ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays placed Kevin Kiermaier on the COVID-19-related injured list before Saturday’s game, but the move was more precautionary as the speedy centerfielder tested negative for the virus and is not expected to miss much more time.
Kiermaier had not been feeling well for several days, but with the negative test result, team officials feel his issues were more typical of a cold.
Infielder Taylor Walls also was sidelined after not feeling well, scratched from Saturday’s lineup for what the team said was “general illness” and sent home. He received a negative result on an initial rapid test, but is expected to undergo further testing.
The Rays may bring infielder/outfielder Vidal Brujan to St. Petersburg on Sunday as a member of the taxi squad — to possibly be activated if Walls and/or Kiermaier are not feeling better.
Reliever Joey Krehbiel, the 28-year-old Seminole native and former Seminole High teammate of outfielder Brett Phillips, was called up Saturday to take Kiermaier’s roster spot, working a scoreless inning in his Rays debut, and then optioned back to Triple-A Durham.
Krehbiel made his first appearance in the majors since his first two games with Arizona in July 2018. With his father, girlfriend and other friends and relatives in the stands, he made it successful, logging his first career strikeout — and off Tigers star Miguel Cabrera at that — and just one walk.
Krehbiel signed with the Rays as a minor-league free agent and has had a solid season at Triple-A Durham, going 3-2, 4.19 ERA in 44 outings, with 52 strikeouts in 43 innings.
“Coming home from the airport, driving right by my house to come here, that’s obviously a good feeling,” he said before the game. “And seeing Brett, someone I grew up with, and some other guys from spring training, it’s pretty cool.”
The first sign something was amiss with Kiermaier came Friday, when he was unexpectedly removed from the game in the sixth inning for a pinch-hitter, then sent home.
“He’s been dealing with it for a couple days,” manager Kevin Cash said. “He said he thought he turned for the better the day before (Friday), and then (Friday) just was kind of out of sorts.
“Pretty drained, tired, has had some symptoms. So we sent him home when we took him out of the game. And then (Saturday) we’ve kept him away from the ballpark. … I think he’s just sick.”
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