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Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier: ‘I’ll be back, better than ever’

The centerfielder said his left hip surgery went well and he is feeling great. Where he plays next year is in question.
Rays centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier said Wednesday that surgery on his left hip went well and he is excited about returning to play in 2023.
Rays centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier said Wednesday that surgery on his left hip went well and he is excited about returning to play in 2023. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]
Published Aug. 5|Updated Aug. 5

DETROIT — Rays centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier said that Wednesday’s surgery on his left hip went well, and he is feeling great and eager to return to play in 2023.

“I am so excited about the thought of being healthy moving forward,” Kiermaier said in a video posted to his Twitter account. “It has been an absolute grind what I’ve played with this last year and a half, and I just want to let everyone know that I’ll be OK ...

“I will be back on that field next year better than ever.”

The Rays said Kiermaier is expected to return to full activity in six-seven months, so he potentially should be ready to start the 2023 season on time or shortly thereafter.

What’s not known is where Kiermaier, 32, will be playing. He is in the last guaranteed year of the six-year, $53.5 million contract he signed in March 2017, with the Rays fully expected to give him the $2.5 million buyout rather than exercise a $13 million option.

And they did just trade for their apparent centerfielder of the present and future in Jose Siri. Whether Kiermaier and the Rays can work something out for him to return in a different role will play out during the offseason.

The surgery, according to the Rays, was to address an impingement and repair the labrum in his left hip. It was performed Wednesday in Nashville by Dr. J.W. Thomas Byrd.

“Sounds like KK’s pretty excited to have this past him. Now, he’s got to work pretty hard to get himself back to playing shape, and trust that he’ll do that,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “Ultimately, happy for him. It’s unfortunate for us, because he’s such a big part of our team. But happy for him that hopefully this alleviates some of that issue that he’s had for quite some time.”

For now Kiermaier, who returned home Thursday night, said he will focus on his rehab.

“Hello everybody, I’m back in beautiful Tampa, Florida, right where I belong,” he said in the video. “Surgery was great the other day. I’m feeling great right now. Got to grind through this rehab. I love a good challenge. I will dominate this. I am so excited. ...

“I’ll be on that baseball field next year. I’m a happy man. Life is good. I cannot thank everyone enough for the support.”

In 63 games this season, Kiermaier hit .228 with seven homers, 22 RBIs and a .650 OPS.

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