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VIDEO: Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier talks rehab, return from hip injury

Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier in the dugout during the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Oakland Athletics at Tropicana Field.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier in the dugout during the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Oakland Athletics at Tropicana Field.

14

July

On June 8, Kevin Kiermaier did what he does best: He went hard. After hitting a ground ball to White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, the Rays center fielder tried to beat him to first by sliding into the bag. But he came down awkwardly and had to leave the game with what turned out to be a hairline fracture in the hip area.

While Kiermaier hasn’t played in the more than five weeks since that game, he’s getting close. Manager Kevin Cash said Kiermaier could resume baseball activities when the Rays return home July 21, and last night, we got word from Kiermaier himself on his rehab:

“I’m starting to finally accelerate with all my rehab stuff that I’m doing,” he said in the video, released via Uninterrupted. “Now I’m able to throw and hit and do certain things like that again.”

Kiermaier added that he should be able to start jogging and sprinting soon — important skills for the speedy outfielder to have. And don’t worry: He’ll stick to his all-out approach when he comes back.

“When you play hard, things like this are going to happen every now and then,” he said. “It’s unfortunate, but this is what got me to the big leagues, so I’m not going to change my ways by any means.”

When Kiermaier went down with a broken left hand in 2016, the Rays floundered without him, going 14-34 during the games he missed. This year, though, Tampa Bay has survived without its star, with a 16-12 record since that June 8 game. And Kiermaier is elated that the team is still in contention.

“We’re in the best division in all of baseball and we’re right in the thick of things,” he said.

Since 2014 — his first full season in the majors — Kiermaier has the 13th-most wins above replacement in the AL (14.3), per FanGraphs, despite ranking just 58th in plate appearances. He’s a solid hitter, a great baserunner and an unparalleled defender, and the Rays will be a much better team with him on the field.

In lieu of a kicker quote, I’ll direct you to the man himself:

[Last modified: Friday, July 14, 2017 11:20am]

    

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