HOUSTON — Kevin Kiermaier initially didn’t expect to miss any time after bruising muscles around his rib cage when he crashed into the outfield wall Sunday in Baltimore, so it has obviously become a bigger deal that Thursday he was out of the lineup for a third straight game.
Also, that Kiermaier, normally one of the most accessible and accommodating Rays, declined to talk to reporters about his status. As of Thursday morning, the team was not planning to put him on the injured list.
“I’m sure he’s frustrated,’’ manager Kevin Cash said. “He’s just frustrated that it’s not turning the corner for him.’’
The issue is with the intercostal muscles that run between the ribs, which are impacted by nearly all baseball activities.
“I know he wants to be out there, but I just don’t think the rib or the muscle in between is turning the corner as quickly as we’d like,’’ Cash said. “I don’t personally feel comfortable asking him to go out there when he’s in a significant amount of pain.’’
Cash said the Rays are confident, based on Monday testing and a doctor visit, that there are no fractures and that “it’s just a pretty deep bruise that’s not healing right.’
The Rays are hopeful for today but not sure when Kiermaier will be back. Cash said they don’t expect him to end up on the injured list, in part because rosters can be expanded starting Sunday. “We’re in that tricky part of the season now,’’ Cash said.
If Kiermaier went on the injured list, the Rays could call up Guillermo Heredia today, but Kiermaier would be sidelined until next Thursday. But if they wait on Kiermaier, they can’t call up Heredia until Tuesday, as he has to spend 10 days in the minors. There are no other outfielders on the 40-man roster.
Team officials are monitoring Hurricane Dorian and are already in discussion with MLB about potential contingencies for the 10-game homestand that starts tonight. Among a broad spectrum of options could be postponing games and playing doubleheaders in advance of (possibly Saturday vs. Indians) or after the storm comes through, or relocating the series with the Orioles, slated to start Monday, to Baltimore or a neutral site. (Hmm, is Montreal’s Olympic Stadium available?) No decisions are expected until the forecast track becomes clearer. The travel of the opposing teams is also a factor.
Moment(s) of silence
The Rays will show a tribute video and hold a moment of silence before tonight’s game in honor of Vince Naimoli, the original franchise owner who died Sunday. The team also will start wearing a right jersey sleeve patch with his initials, VJN. Services for Naimoli are Saturday at Tampa’s St. Mary Catholic Church (15520 N Boulevard), with visitation at 9:30 a.m. and a memorial Mass at 10:30. … The Rays are also planning a moment of silence tonight for the family of minor-league pitcher Blake Bivens. His wife, 14-month-old son and mother-in-law were killed Tuesday, with the wife’s brother charged with their murders.
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Medical matters: Glasnow, Snell
Righty Tyler Glasnow, out since early May with a forearm strain, today will make the first of a planned three or four rehab starts, pitching for Triple-A Durham, slated for one inning/20 pitches. He was to pitch for Class A Charlotte, but the Florida State League cancelled all remaining games and playoffs in advance of Hurricane Dorian. … Lefty Blake Snell (left elbow surgery) is slated for his first bullpen session today at the Trop.
Number of the day
Walks on Thursday by Rays pitchers — five by Colin Poche in a seven-batter span — two shy of the team record for a nine-inning game.
• The Rays won the season series against the Astros 4-3, doing so for the third straight year.
• The Rays added another talented young prospect, signing 16-year-old Dominican outfield prospect Jhon Diaz, who reportedly had agreed previously to a $1.2 million deal with the Yankees, mlb.com’s Jesse Sanchez reported.
• The 19 strikeouts by Rays hitters in Wednesday’s 8-6 loss were their most in a nine-inning game; the record had been 17.
• Charlotte righty Tommy Romero (12-4, 1.89) was named pitcher of the year for the advanced Class A Florida State League, while shortstop Wander Franco and catcher Ronaldo Hernandez were named postseason All-Stars. … Double-A Montgomery’s Morgan Ensberg was named Southern League manager of the year, and Miles Mastrobuoni (utility) and Lucius Fox (best hustler) were named postseason All-Stars.