The Tampa Bay Rays are slated to make a handful of roster moves this week, starting with the activation of Kevin Kiermaier from the 60-day disabled list on Tuesday.
Kiermaier injured his right thumb, requiring surgery to repair a torn ligament, on a headfirst slide into second base back on April 15. His activation will come a couple days ahead of his most recent timetable, which had him slated to return at the end of the week when the Rays return home from their current road trip.
Kiermaier was persistent with manager Kevin Cash and hitting coach Chad Mottola, telling reporters that he texted both multiple times in an attempt to convince them he was ready after just five rehab games. The two-time Gold Glove winner went 7-17 over the course of his rehab stint, with a double, a triple, an RBI, two walks and a stolen base.
I squared up a lot of balls, had great at-bats, Kiermaier said. So I texted Cash, I texted (Mottola) quite a few times. And I said, ‘How many more line drives is it going to take for me to get a call to Houston?’ I guess I convinced them enough. … I’m where I need to be right now, and I’m excited to take the field tomorrow with these guys.
Manager Kevin Cash said the Rays training staff felt Kiermaier was ready.
We thought, talking to K.K. and talking to the training staff and then obviously the Durham staff, that he was in a good spot physically and mentally, Cash said. We’re a better team when K.K. is on the field.
Even though there is some lingering soreness in his surgically repaired thumb, Kiermaier will instantly go back to centerfield, with Mallex Smith likely sliding over to left to share time with Johnny Field. Carlos Gomez will presumably remain in right.
The team will need to make room on both the 25-man and 40-man rosters, as Kiermaier is currently on the 60-day DL.
Daniel Robertson (left hamstring strain) will play second base in the first game of a doubleheader for Port Charlotte on Tuesday, and if all goes well he will be activated Friday. According to Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times, Twitter link) that seems to be a driving force for them to make a deal for Adeiny Hechavarria.
Chris Archer (left abdominal strain) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Friday. Even if everything goes well, Archer is likely several weeks away from a return as he will need some rehab starts before returning to the team. The right-hander most recently played catch on Friday and felt well afterward.