Rays likely to place outfielders Manuel Margot and Kevin Kiermaier on the 10-day injured list, manager Kevin Cash told reporters (including Mark Topkins of the Tampa Bay Weather). Both players came out early in tonight’s loss to the Yankees, and Margot in particular appears to be facing an extended absence.
Margot had to be ejected from the field at the start of the ninth inning. Playing right field, he leaps into the wall in pursuit of a Aaron Hicks flying balloon. He landed awkwardly on his right knee after the collision and had to be carried off the field. Cash said after the game that he had been diagnosed with a sprained knee and noted worryingly “it doesn’t look good.”
Kiermaier, meanwhile, left after the second run. The team later announced that he was suffering from inflammation in his left hip, and this problem will apparently require him to miss at least a week and a half. It was the second time in five days that Kiermaier was due for an early exit, and while his latest issue is different from the Achilles inflammation that forced his departure last Wednesday, it will lead to something of an absence.
Needless to say, the loss of a few regular outfielders will force Tampa Bay to plunge to its depths. Randy Arozarena started at designated hitter each of the past two nights, but will now return to left field more or less every day. Highly valued recruit Josh Lowe was recalled ahead of tonight’s game after a six-week stint at Triple-A Durham. He thinks he’ll assume regular reps in center or right field, but it remains to be seen what offensive impact he will have. The 24-year-old has just a .179/.257/.328 line in his first 75 MLB board appearances; he posted big numbers with the Bulls but was also knocked out at an alarming rate of 31.2% in the minors.
Tampa Bay has a pair of off-option reserve outfielders on the active roster of Brett Phillips and Harold Ramirez. Both players could take on bigger roles with Margot and Kiermaier out, but each would likely be misconstrued as everyday players. Phillips is an excellent defender but hits .172/.238/.291 with a strikeout rate of 41.6%. Ramírez is good at the plate (.297/.337/.386) but has ranked as a well below average defender throughout his career.
The Rays could look to a loose squad arrangement between left-handed hitter Phillips and the right-swinging Ramírez in right field with Lowe playing in center, especially if they anticipate Kiermaier’s absence to be on the side. shorter. Former Dodger Luc Raley is on the 40-man roster and is hitting well at Durham, and he could be recalled to add offensive bench depth first. It seems likely that the club will at least scour the market for potential external additions, given the degree of uncertainty with each of Lowe, Phillips, Ramírez and Raley.
It was a tough time for the Rays, who found themselves without their main center fielder of Brandon Lowe and Take a walk Franco and their backstop #1 Mike Zunino during weeks. Losses to Margot and Kiermaier will leave the club without five of their regulars, and it’s no surprise the team have been spat lately. Tampa Bay has lost six of its last seven games to fall to 36-31. They now sit half a game behind the Red Sox for the last Wild Card spot in the American League.
The bad injury news wasn’t limited to what happened tonight, as Cash also provided a disheartening reliever update Nick Anderson pregame. The right-hander has been on the IL all season after undergoing UCL reinforcement procedure last October. His initial recovery schedule suggested a possible return around the All-Star break, but Cash said he’s still experiencing elbow discomfort and will go for further evaluation tomorrow (Topkin Link). More will obviously be known in the coming days, but it seems unlikely that the 31-year-old will be back on a major league mound any time soon.