Potential for hip surgery adds to uncertainty for Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier

Notes | The centerfielder in the final guaranteed year of his contract will see a specialist; pitcher Jeffrey Springs is placed on injured list.
The Rays' Kevin Kiermaier waits on deck during a game against the Reds on Friday.
The Rays' Kevin Kiermaier waits on deck during a game against the Reds on Friday. [ AARON DOSTER | AP ]
Published July 11, 2022

CINCINNATI — Centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier doesn’t know what’s wrong with his left hip — he plans to see a specialist this week after being sidelined for the second time in a month — and acknowledged that surgery could be a possibility.

That makes the future even more uncertain, especially if there is a chance the surgery could be season-ending for the most veteran Ray, who is in the last guaranteed year of his contract with a team he was drafted by in 2010 and has said he never wants to leave.

“I need to go see some specialists and see where to go from there,’’ he said Sunday. “But I think I’ll figure out a lot within the next couple of days. …

“There’s just a lot of unknowns right now with what’s to come. But it’s tough. It’s tough. Hasn’t really set in yet. I don’t really know what the future holds, to be quite honest.’’

Kiermaier, 32, said the injury, which limits his movements and strength, is the result of “a lot of wear and tear over the years,” especially playing at Tropicana Field, and has become increasingly worse.

“My style of play on turf all those years, I wouldn’t change anything about it, but eventually all that we do out there in the fields catches up, and this year was that year for me,’’ he said.

A cortisone shot helped mask the pain when he was sidelined in late June and allowed him to return after a minimum 10-day stay on the injured list. But Kiermaier and the team agreed that another flare-up, which occurred Saturday against the Reds, made it time to consider more severe options.

“Those injections and treatments, they can only get you so far, and I think that’s where KK is headed,’’ manager Kevin Cash said. “I think he’s right in saying he’s got to get it fixed, whatever that means. He’s got to get it fixed to where there is some consistency with how he feels coming into the ballpark every day.’’

Jeffrey Springs joins lengthy injured list

The Rays’ expected flurry of roster moves Sunday morning included a surprise: Starter Jeffery Springs was placed on the 15-day injured list due to right lower-leg tightness and will be out at least through the All-Star break.

The combination of Springs pitching only once in the last 16 days and being away from the team at times due to the hospitalization of his 5-month-old, Stetson, who has an infection in his spinal fluid, and that Springs had major knee surgery in the same leg last year has the Rays opting to be cautious.

“Confident he’s going to be fine,’’ Cash said. “But we need to let it calm down.’’

The team will go with something of a bullpen day Monday to cover Springs’ turn, with Matt Wisler as the opener and Josh Fleming, who was called up Sunday, expected to work bulk innings.

With shortstop Wander Franco (likely hamate fracture in his right hand) and Kiermaier also going on the injured list — it now contains a majors-most-matching 15 players — and reliever Calvin Faucher sent down, the Rays called up three other players from Triple-A Durham: infielder Jonathan Aranda, outfielder Luke Riley and reliever Phoenix Sanders. All three played Sunday after catching a 6:20 a.m. flight, with a connection in Washington.

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Cash said Taylor Walls will be the starter at shortstop with Franco out, though recent addition Yu Chang will get some time. He said centerfield will be shared by Brett Phillips, who is 0-for-his-last-25, and rookie Josh Lowe, who homered Sunday.

Franco, who said he could “barely move” his hand, is scheduled to see specialist Dr. Doug Carlan on Monday in St. Petersburg and will try to make the best of it if he indeed needs surgery and misses 6-8 weeks, as expected. “Mentally, you’ve just got to be tough,’’ he said via team interpreter Manny Navarro. “You’ve just got to be a good teammate. That’s all you can do.’’


Catcher/first baseman Christian Betancourt, acquired Saturday from Oakland for two minor-leaguers, is expected to join the team Monday; reserve catcher Rene Pinto or someone else will be sent out. … Brandon Lowe (low back) was cleared to return to action after being hit on the helmet Thursday in the first at-bat of his first rehab game. He was the DH for Triple-A Durham on Sunday, going 2-for-4. … The Rays were swept for the third time this season; the Reds completed their first sweep.

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