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Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier dealing with emotions of season potentially being over

Notes | With a return from a hip injury delayed until at least September, the centerfielder says he will wait to comment further.
Tampa Bay Rays player Kevin Kiermaier (39) watches teammates play against the Baltimore Orioles during the first inning at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg on Saturday, July 16, 2022.
Tampa Bay Rays player Kevin Kiermaier (39) watches teammates play against the Baltimore Orioles during the first inning at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg on Saturday, July 16, 2022. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]
Published Jul. 16|Updated Jul. 17

ST. PETERSBURG — Centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier acknowledged Saturday that his season, and potentially his Rays career, could be over due to his left hip issue.

In shifting Kiermaier from the 10- to 60-day injured list, the team delayed his return until at least Sept. 8, which he said was the right call given his injury, sidelined July 9 for the second time this season.

“I think everyone knew that I wasn’t going to be back anytime soon,” he said.

Kiermaier, 32, is scheduled to see hip specialist Dr. J.W. Thomas Byrd in Nashville after the All-Star break, but his comments indicated he already knows the options are not encouraging for a return this season and he might require surgery.

Plus, manager Kevin Cash said, “I think that’s ... the direction it’s going.”

“Just got to keep everything under wraps until a decision is made (after consulting with Byrd), and then we’ll go from there,” Kiermaier said.

Kiermaier said the finality of such a decision has been hard to grasp.

“Hasn’t really hit me just yet,” he said. “But I’ve definitely over this past week have had a whirlwind of emotions going through my mind. But until everything is set in stone, then I will comment on that a little bit more. But for right now, I’m kind of in that limbo in-between period. But I think we’ll all know here shortly.”

Hovering over the scenario is that Kiermaier is in the last guaranteed year of his contract, with a $13 million Rays option or a $2.5 million buyout for 2023. It is also possible they could work out a new lower-priced deal for him to stay.

Brandon Lowe back, Jonathan Aranda sent down

Second baseman Brandon Lowe (lower-back issue) was reinstated from the 60-day injured list and started Saturday against the Orioles, his first big-league action since May 15.

Lowe said he “felt really good” after an eventful game in which he singled twice (a shift-beating bunt and a liner to left), walked, scored three runs (two on headfirst slides after wild pitches), was involved in a pickoff and turned a double play.

Said Cash: “He looked really good. Looked like Brandon.’'

Lefty Ryan Yarbrough was called up and started, allowing two runs over 5⅓ innings.

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Infielder Jonathan Aranda, who has made a good impression in two short big-league stints (going 6-for-16), was sent to Triple A, with plans to have him get some outfield time at Durham to increase his versatility. Reliever Ralph Garza Jr. also was sent down. Kiermaier’s shift to the 60-day list opened a 40-man roster spot for Lowe.

Also, right-hander Cooper Criswell was claimed off waivers from the Angels and sent to Durham. To make room on the 40-man roster for Criswell, 25, who is completing rehab from a shoulder injury, pitcher Shane Baz (elbow sprain) moved to the 60-day injured list, delaying a return to Sept. 12.

Miscellany

DH Yandy Diaz was hit on the “meaty part” of his left forearm by a pitch in the ninth and was done for the day, but Cash said he should be fine. ... Top pitching prospect Taj Bradley started Saturday’s All-Star Futures Game at Dodger Stadium, allowing a hit and a walk in one inning, and now will be promoted from Double-A Montgomery to Durham. Bulls infielder Curtis Mead also started and went 0-for-3. ... Reliever Pete Fairbanks, out since spring with a lat strain, is expected to be activated Sunday. ... Right-hander Yonny Chirinos made his first game appearance since Tommy John surgery in August 2020, throwing an inning in a Florida Complex League game Saturday. “I just texted him ‘Congrats,’” Cash said. “He’s such a good guy. He’s worked so hard. He’s had plenty of hiccups, so very encouraged with his outing. (Rehab pitching coach Rick Knapp) posted all over our Slack message board about him. He had a big picture of him smiling in the dugout. So I was happy for Yonny.” ... Cash said Randy Arozarena “probably didn’t get the best jump” when he was thrown out trying to steal third in the eighth, “but I really don’t have a problem with that in that situation” as Josh Lowe had moved up to second.

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