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Kiermaier needs thumb surgery, out 3 months

MLB.com @wwchastain

ST. PETERSBURG -- Kevin Kiermaier knew something was wrong with his right thumb. Monday morning, his concerns were validated when it was learned he had a torn ligament.

The Rays placed their star center fielder on the 10-day disabled list on Monday before moving him to the 60-day DL on Tuesday to make room on the 40-man roster for Brandon Snyder, who was recalled to replace the injured Matt Duffy. Kiermaier is expected to be out three months.

ST. PETERSBURG -- Kevin Kiermaier knew something was wrong with his right thumb. Monday morning, his concerns were validated when it was learned he had a torn ligament.

The Rays placed their star center fielder on the 10-day disabled list on Monday before moving him to the 60-day DL on Tuesday to make room on the 40-man roster for Brandon Snyder, who was recalled to replace the injured Matt Duffy. Kiermaier is expected to be out three months.

"It's disappointing," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We talk daily about how valuable he is to our lineup, to our clubhouse."

Mallex Smith started in center field for the Rays on Monday night against the Rangers. Going forward, he will be asked to anchor center field on most nights.

"Mallex has played a lot of center field in his Minor League career," Cash said. "In theory, he's the one who can cover the most ground out there. Give him that opportunity and hope that he can run with it until K.K. comes back."

Kiermaier's surgery is scheduled for Friday morning. To take his place on the active roster, Tampa Bay recalled right-hander Chih-Wei Hu from Triple-A Durham.

"Yesterday, I was preparing for the worst, hoping for the best, and then this morning got confirmation of what was wrong," Kiermaier said. "I kind of expected it. But hearing those words that I'm going to be out for months at a time, it's really hard to take right now."

X-rays of Kiermaier's thumb were taken on Sunday, and those were negative. Kiermaier had an MRI on Monday that diagnosed the problem.

"I knew how my thumb was feeling, and the angle that it could go to that I've never felt or seen before," Kiermaier said. "I knew there was something that was extremely wrong."

Video: PHI@TB: Kiermaier checked by trainer, leaves later on

Kiermaier singled to left with one out in the first inning of Sunday's 10-4 loss to the Philles and broke for second after left fielder Rhys Hoskins bobbled the ball. Kiermaier slid headfirst into the base, and he came up shaking his right hand.

"The hand just kind of got caught in the ground," Kiermaier said. "Thumb went in a weird angle. Just one of those things where I felt like I had the chance to over slide the bag, like I've done a couple of times in my career. And I was just trying to hold on.

"I don't know if that's what made my thumb go in the angle that it did. I thought I jammed it right from that moment, but I didn't like the way my thumb felt after that."

Last season, Kiermaier missed 61 games with a right hip fracture. In 2016, he missed 48 games with a fractured left hand.

"He's going to miss some time, 10 to 12 weeks, whatever it is speculated," Cash said. "This is year three, we should be getting used to it now. The broken wrist, the hip injury and now the [torn thumb ligament]. It probably stings the more it happens. As early as we are, the way we're playing right now, we need him in the lineup. But we'll have to make an adjustment."

Kiermaier told reporters he hates for people to label him as injury prone.

"I'm stubborn and I'm still going to say I'm not injury prone," Kiermaier said. "But at the same time, there's no doubt about it. This will be my third long stint on the DL, and it's hard for me to say that. ... It's hard for me to admit that."

Kiermaier pointed out that each of his three injuries were freakish and "could have been avoided easily."

"You're talking about a matter of inches on some of these plays," Kiermaier said.

Kiermaier said he plans to stay in good spirits, and he had a message for those wishing him well.

"I want to thank all the fans who reached out to me and sent their well wishes my way," Kiermaier said. "And I will be back this season. I promise you that. I'm going to work my butt off and get to that day as soon as possible."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays, Chih-Wei Hu, Kevin Kiermaier