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Rays' Kiermaier out of starting lineup as thumb remains sore

Kevin Kiermaier, who says his right thumb swelled up a bit overnight, ices the thumb in the dugout during the fourth inning of Sunday’s game.
Kevin Kiermaier, who says his right thumb swelled up a bit overnight, ices the thumb in the dugout during the fourth inning of Sunday’s game.
Published Aug. 10, 2015

ST. PETERSBURG — Roughly 90 minutes before being presented the Rays Heart & Hustle Award during Sunday's pregame festivities, CF Kevin Kiermaier bemoaned the reason he barely got a chance to brandish either on Sunday against the Mets.

Limited to a pinch-running/defensive cameo Sunday after jamming his right thumb during a first-inning slide into second base Saturday, Kiermaier said the swelling increased and grip-strength decreased overnight.

X-rays were negative (he said he had no MRI exam), but he called the thumb "very sore." He and manager Kevin Cash remain optimistic today's off day will enable Kiermaier to return to full duty Tuesday night when the Rays open a two-game home series against the Braves.

"I always tell everyone I want to be an everyday player … and I don't like when I'm not in the lineup," said Kiermaier, who remained in the game Saturday and went hitless in his ensuing three at-bats.

"It's on me; just a dumb, reckless slide that could've been avoided. … It's been a frustrating couple of weeks for me, and this is just kind of the icing on the cake, and I'm just not happy about it."

STILL SURGING: Leadoff hitter John Jaso continued injecting the team's offense with new life, which sure beats life on the shelf.

Hitting .329 since his July 7 reinstatement after an 83-game absence (wrist), Jaso went 2-for-3 with a two-run double Sunday, driving in the Rays' first three runs. The three-RBI day was his first in more than a year and most in a Tampa Bay uniform since Sept. 9, 2011.

"I don't know if it's necessarily a rhythm or anything like that," Jaso said. "But we're kind of building this philosophy to attack fastballs in the zone, and I'm hopping on board with that and just trying to do my part as far as filling out the way we're kind of moving as a whole with our lineup."

3B Evan Longoria's fourth-inning leadoff single stretched his hitting streak to nine games and on-base streak to 16. SS Asdrubal Cabrera went 0-for-4, snapping an 11-game hitting streak.

CASALI OKAY: Roughly 15 hours after taking a Travis d'Arnaud backswing to the left side of the forehead, C Curt Casali said he felt fine and had passed a concussion test. Cash concurred, saying Casali — removed from Saturday's game after sustaining the first-inning blow — is "good to go."

"(D'Arnaud) texted me later after the game and apologized and said he felt bad," Casali said. "I responded, 'It's part of the game.' "

A POP WITH POP IN MIND: The significance of rookie Richie Shaffer's winning homer off 42-year-old Mets starter Bartolo Colon spanned at least a generation. Colon pitched for the Indians' 1997 American League championship club; Shaffer's dad, Rick, grew up in Cleveland. "He's a Cleveland Indians fan," Shaffer said of his dad. "He's a big fan of (Colon), so getting to face him, it was pretty cool."

JENNINGS UPDATE: OF Desmond Jennings (knee) completed his rehab at Triple-A Durham, going 3-for-21 with four walks in seven games, and will return to St. Petersburg, though the Rays have not decided if he will be activated Tuesday. "The main thing is to make sure I was healthy and that I felt good running, playing," Jennings told the Durham Herald-Sun. "Everything is good."

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NOT-SO-MINOR MATTERS: Breakout LHP prospect Blake Snell pitched five no-hit innings for Triple-A Durham, striking out nine and walking two in the Bulls' 9-0 victory over Louisville (Reds). Snell, 22, has a minors-best 1.24 ERA across three levels this season.

ODDS AND ENDS: Rays pitchers notched a collective 28 strikeouts Saturday and Sunday against the Mets, matching New York's highest two-game total this year. … Before Shaffer, Akinori Iwamura (April 6, 2007) and Tino Martinez (March 30, 2004) were the only Rays players to record at least three hits and a homer in their Trop debuts.

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