HOUSTON -- Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier was out of the lineup for a third consecutive game on Thursday with a left rib cage contusion that he sustained trying to rob a home run in the fifth inning of Sunday’s game against the Orioles.
Kiermaier had hoped to return to the lineup on Tuesday following Monday’s off-day, but the center fielder still felt some discomfort in the rib area after going through drills before the game. He said he mostly felt the discomfort on his swings.
“It’s one of those things where, with things like this, time is the most essential thing, unfortunately,” Kiermaier said on Tuesday. “But the thought process was that if I have to miss one game today to be good for the next however many games they want me to play, that’s what the goal is.”
Kiermaier, who is usually one of the most accommodating players with the media, declined to comment on his injury status on Thursday.
Rays manager Kevin Cash said the hope is that Kiermaier can return to the lineup on Friday against the Indians, but that they’re nearing the “tricky” part of the schedule regarding their decision on Kiermaier. The team can place him on the 10-day injured list, which would sideline him until next Wednesday or wait until rosters expand on Sunday.
“Really would like to avoid [the IL], but I'm still optimistic,” Cash said. “I know he wants to be out there. I just don’t think the ribs or the muscles in between are turning the corner as quickly as we’d like. I personally don’t feel comfortable asking him to go out there when he’s in a significant amount of pain.”
In Kiermaier’s absence, Avisail Garcia has continued to handle the responsibilities in center field. Guillermo Heredia, who was optioned to Triple-A Durham on Saturday, would be the option to replace Kiermaier on the active roster if they choose to place him on the injured list. If they don’t, Heredia won’t be eligible to return until Tuesday.
Kiermaier underwent further testing during Monday’s off-day, and everything checked out OK. Now it’s just a matter of waiting for the soreness to subside.
“I’m sure he’s frustrated," Cash said. "He’s frustrated that it’s not turning the corner for him. He did get checked out. All the doctors looked at him, and we’re confident that there’s no broken bones or anything, it’s just a pretty deep bruise that is not healing right.”