For the second time this season, centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier is headed to the injured list.
Kiermaier was placed on the 10-day IL, following his left wrist sprain in Saturday’s game when he slid head-first into second base. He grimaced in pain and immediately was removed from the game. X-rays were negative, but Kiermaier said he woke up Sunday in heavy pain and the wrist area was severely swollen.
“I wasn’t expecting it to feel as painful (Sunday morning),” Kiermaier said before the Rays’ 4-3 victory against the Oakland A’s, which concluded a seven-game West Coast road trip. “I couldn’t put my socks on and pinch them to pull them up so that was an early indicator it was worse than expected.”
Kiermaier said he was frustrated, but hoped some imaging tests might give a better indication of his recovery time. He said there are eight screws in his left hand following a 2016 injury at Detroit.
“I don’t know if that plays a role,” Kiermaier said. “This hand is beat up as it is. I would love it to be shorter (time on the IL), but I realistically don’t know. This is the worst stage. I probably won’t be able to have any activity for the time being.”
Kiermaier said the mental strain of an injury is far worse than the physical rehabilitation.
“I’ve done this (recovered from an injury) way too many times in my career,” Kiermaier said. “It breaks my heart. I have a lot of emotions right now. I hate missing games, so I have to find ways to keep me motivated and happy and I will.
“At the end of the day, it was Mother’s Day and I FaceTimed my wife and got to see my kids. If my hand being hurt is the worst thing I’ve got going on in my life right now, I’m doing okay.”
In Kiermaier’s absence, the Rays have a versatile outfield with lots of mix-and-match options. It should clear the way for Brett Phillips to receive more opportunities. Phillips lamented the loss of Kiermaier, but said he’s ready to contribute.
Phillips jokingly pointed out that he recently played in three consecutive big-league games for the first time since August 2018.
“I congratulated (Rays manager Kevin) Cash,” said Phillip, laughing. “He made his usual funny comments like, ‘Am I going to get fired for doing that?’ There will probably be questions on why he’s putting in Brett Phillips so many days in a row.
“I will have more opportunities. When you get in there and (know) you’re going to still play the next day, you can play more freely. I feel thankful to get these opportunities.”
Cash said Phillips has been getting more quality at-bats and that’s probably due to more game-time activity.
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Cash said left-hander Shane McClanahan had another effective start. McClanahan, who retired 10 straight A’s batters at one point, nearly had four shutout innings, but surrendered three runs after two outs, giving up a bloop RBI single to Oakland’s Stephen Piscotty, then a two-run single to Mitch Moreland (after a wild pitch put the second runner in scoring position).
Overall, McClanahan, the USF product, gave up four hits in four innings, while walking two and striking out five. With his pitch count at 80, Cash opted for the bullpen in the fifth inning.
“He left a slider up to Piscotty,” Cash said. “Other than that, if we’re nitpicking one pitch an outing, he’s doing pretty good. With his pitch count, it was more comfortable to take him out rather than leave him in.”
Sunday was the Rays’ ninth come-from-behind victory this season. “Just a lot of grit,” Mike Brosseau said. “We have a lot of guys on this team who know we’re never out of the fight.” … To replace Kiermaier on the 26-man roster, the Rays recalled right-hander Louis Head from Triple-A Durham. … Right-hander Michael Wacha (on the IL with hamstring tightness) likely will throw off the mound Tuesday, when his status could gain clarity. … Cash said first baseman Ji-Man Choi, placed on the injured list before the season due to right knee surgery, has displayed good timing during his rehabilitation outing with Durham. Choi’s immediate future will be discussed during Monday’s off-day. … Tthe Rays will have a “New York, New York” homestand — the Yankees beginning Tuesday night and the Mets for the weekend. The Mets are at Tropicana Field for the first time since 2015. … On Mother’s Day, everyone was naturally asked about the impact of their mothers in their baseball lives. Cash said his mother, Patsy, generally gets more excited when the Rays win than he does. “That’s a good mom,” Cash said. … The only other time the Rays faced the A’s on Mother’s Day was May 9, 2010 — 11 years ago to the day on Sunday — when Oakland’s Dallas Braden pitched a perfect game.
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