Injuries have plagued the Tampa Bay Rays thus far in 2018, but a couple of players are nearing their returns as Kevin Kiermaier and Adeiny Hechavarria are set to begin their respective rehab assignments.
Hechavarria went on the disabled list a month ago with hamstring tightness. Prior to his injury, Hechavarria was hitting .273/.303/.341 with 2 HR over 36 games. Hechavarria has never had a penchant for hitting, as he brings his value on the defensive side of things. Although he was the team’s starting shortstop prior to the injury, the Rays now face a log jam of middle infielders with Daniel Robertson and Joey Wendle playing well, Christian Arroyo and soon, Willy Adames, will need to find playing time.
Kevin Kiermaier is eyeing a June 20th return to the Rays active roster, after spraining his thumb — which required surgery — back in early April. It’s the third straight season in which Kiermaier has missed an extended period of time due to injury. Prior to the sprain, Kiermaier was struggling mightily with his offense as he was hitting .163/.250/.233, but had only played in 12 games up to that point.
It will also be interesting to see how the outfield situation plays out upon Kiermaier’s return as Mallex Smith has been the team’s starting center fielder in his stead. Johnny Field and Rob Refsynder have also served their respective roles well, while Carlos Gomez has struggled in right field.
Hechavarria will begin his assignment tonight with the Charlotte Stone Crabs, while Kiermaier will play tomorrow night. Kevin Cash would not say how long he expected either of them to take, but said they’ll take it slow with both players.
“KK is going to play for a while,” Cash said. “It’s not going to be some two-day stint. He might say he’s ready, but we are going to make sure he is good to go. And in fairness to Hech, it’s the same thing. He’s had a lot of history with hamstring tightness in the past, so we’ve got to make sure he checks everything off before we activate him.”
Between now and then, the Rays have a lot of sorting out to do regarding who will remain with the team once both players are healthy.