PORT CHARLOTTE — Rays centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier got a frantic call around 4:30 Tuesday morning from his wife, Marisa, who was having contractions at their Tampa home and knew she was about to deliver their second son, Krew Jax.
Kiermaier jumped in his truck to race north from Port Charlotte to meet her at St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital near Raymond James Stadium, sensing “she wasn’t feeling too hot” and “just trying to keep her cool, calm and collected.”
Marisa was already there when he arrived, having driven herself the eight or so minutes from their south Tampa home despite the obvious discomfort.
“Yeah, her crazy self actually drove,” Kiermaier recounted Saturday morning after rejoining the team. “She was too stubborn to have her mom drive her. She didn’t want her mom to lose (out) on sleep. That’s just kind of how Marisa is at times. I don’t think that’s recommended, but she made it there and she wouldn’t have drove if she didn’t think she was okay. ... But hey, Marisa, she’s an Outlaw (Kiermaier’s nickname) herself as well at times.
“... She battled through a lot. It was tough the last few weeks on her, so I’m so proud of her. Nine pounds, 14 ounces in her little body doesn’t seem like it’s possible, but this is the second go-around with a humongous baby. So I’m setting the bar high and kind of making it not for a very fun pregnancy at times with how crazy things can get, with how big the stomach can be. But once again, she’s a trooper. She pulled through, and she’s doing great now.”
Kiermaier said all is good with Krew, Marisa and their first son, Karter James, who is nearly 2-1/2 (and was 9 pounds, 13 ounces at birth). The family will try to get into a routine, at least before Kiermaier heads out Wednesday for the season-opening trip to Miami and Boston (and the much-welcomed chance to catch up on some sleep).
“When you just have one child, you’re doing a zone, just kind of going back and forth with your wife, trying to outnumber the kid,” he said. “Now we switch it up to man-to-man defense. So Marisa is going to be with Krew, I’m going to be with Karter, vice versa. So the workload is gonna be a little different from here on out. But I’m a defensive specialist, so I’ll find a way.”
As for the name, Krew Jax, which puts a third KK in their lineup?
“Marisa liked that. She liked it early on,” Kiermaier said. “She likes the unique names — might be some different spellings or certain things like that. We definitely knew that we weren’t going to use the traditional names. We weren’t going to go with the old-school approach. Marisa likes unique, different, not the most traditional names, and we liked Krew. We liked it with a K. We like names that flow well. We like Karter with a K.
“Ironically, didn’t mean it to happen like this, but we all have the same initials — KJK (Kiermaier’s middle name is James) — so I keep making jokes saying the KJKs of the world just have Marisa’s heart. So we’ll see if that trend continues, but it’s a thing right now. Everyone’s happy and healthy, and that’s all you can ask for.”
As during last year’s pandemic-abbreviated season, the Rays radio and TV broadcasters won’t travel and will call games remotely, at least to start the season. The radio crew will again work off monitors at Tropicana Field, the TV talkers from a new Sinclair company studio in Tampa when it’s ready. Plans could be adjusted later, a team official said, “if conditions show significant improvement.” Though it’s fair to wonder if the cost savings of not having them on the road (and still getting quality work) will factor in, now and going forward. …. An amended radio deal now includes free streaming (via the iHeart app or 953wdae.com) for listeners in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco counties. … Neil Solondz and reliever Pete Fairbanks will yuk it up on a new podcast, with the first episode of Horsing Around with Pete Fairbanks dropping this week. Given Fairbanks’ offbeat nature, they could have gone catchier with something like Not So Stable, or playing off Stable Genius. … It will be interesting to see if any/how much gambling info is weaved into the TV broadcast given the obvious tie-in with the network rebranding as Bally Sports Sun, either on graphics or read aloud, even though sports betting is not (yet) legal in Florida. … And, no, there is nothing new on Fox/Bally Sports Sun getting picked up by additional carriers.
Fit to a T
Manager Kevin Cash is a good needler, so the coaches enjoyed turning the tables on him Wednesday, all sporting T-shirts the team is selling in honor of his manager of the year award. “I’m still trying to find the culprit behind it,” he said. “I’ve got some pretty good ideas.” Cash, who’d prefer to not get such attention, joked on the TV broadcast that he’d asked his wife, Emily, to go down to Tropicana Field to buy out the inventory. He said the next day he also talked to team president Matt Silverman about it. “I’ve been informed that they’re not ordering any more,” Cash said. “He had a snarky comment, like, ‘We’ll move them to clearance, they’re not selling.’”
Reliever Nick Anderson said he is likely to try a PRP or stem cell injection to help heal the proximal tear in his elbow ligament during the eight weeks he will be shut down from throwing. Rays officials will be pleased if Anderson returns anytime in August. … With vaccinations becoming more readily available, there’s chatter that the league and union will encourage participation with an offer similar to what the NBA did, lifting some protocol restrictions if a certain percentage of the team and staff get the shot. …. The grievance filed in February 2018 by the players union against the Rays — plus the A’s, Marlins and Pirates — for not properly spending revenue-sharing money remains open, and perhaps amended. … Brent Honeywell did the work to get back on the mound for an exhibition start after three years and four elbow surgeries, and medical coordinator Paul Harker deserves credit for helping get him there. … ESPN’s ranking of the game’s top players included four Rays: Austin Meadows at 100, Randy Arozarena (71), Brandon Lowe (54) and Tyler Glasnow (39). … New Padres lefty Blake Snell said on The Chris Rose Rotation podcast he’ll “probably miss being a Tampa Bay Ray forever” and still regularly calls former teammates and staff, including former clubhouse security guard Tom Berte. … Over/under betting numbers for Arozarena, per betonline.ag, are a .265 average, 24.5 homers and 74.5 RBIs. Lowe was pegged at 27.5 homers.
• • •
Sign up for the Rays Report weekly newsletter to get fresh perspectives on the Tampa Bay Rays and the rest of the majors from sports columnist John Romano.