Rays’ Kiermaier ponders future after hip surgery ends season

Aug 13, 2022, 1:31 AM | Updated: 2:23 pm
FILE - Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, right, celebrates with catcher Mike Zunino af...

FILE - Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, right, celebrates with catcher Mike Zunino after defeating the Boston Red Sox in a baseball game April 24, 2022, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Rays standouts Kiermaier and Zunino are out for the season because of injuries, another significant blow for the defending AL East champions. (AP Photo/Scott Audette, File)

(AP Photo/Scott Audette, File)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier expects to be ready for opening day next year following season-ending left hip surgery, but what team that will be with is yet to be determined.

The 32-year-old Kiermaier is in the final season of a $53.5 million, six-year contract agreed to in March 2017. The Rays have a team option for 2023, which they will likely decline.

While Kiermaier is focused on his rehab program, he also understands that this time with Tampa Bay that dates to his major league debut in 2013 could be over. He is open to staying with the Rays.

“I’m driven, I’m motivated, this is like, for me, chasing something again,” Kiermaier said on Saturday. “I’m going to do everything in my power to try to look like the player I was a couple years ago, and hopefully a team, several teams will be wanting me. That’s what I plan, and I’m very excited.”

The three-time AL Gold Glove winner was using crutches when he appeared in the Rays clubhouse for the first time since surgery before Tampa Bay played the Baltimore Orioles. He will use the crutches for three more weeks.

Kiermaier hit .228 with seven home runs and 22 RBIs in 63 games this season.

One issue Kiermaier faces when looking ahead is that the Rays’ Tropicana Field has an artificial turf playing surface.

“Part of me is like, would I benefit from playing on grass everyday, maybe,” Kiermaier said. “I’ve got so accustomed to everything here. There’s so many pros and cons, way more pros, but the turf that’s definitely a big issue.”

“For me, there’s no better feeling than running out on Tropicana Field from the dugout to start a game,” he said. “That will forever be the thing that I think of. It will be interesting to see what happens moving forward.”

Kiermaier said he was in “really rough shape”over the last year and a half due to issues with the labrum. He last played on July 9.

“My labrum was in terrible shaoe,” Kiermaier said. “Looked awful. (The doctor) showed me pictures on before and after, and it was incredible I played as long as what I did.”

Kiermaier feels way better than expected a week and a half after surgery and called the procedure “a complete win.”

“Throughout this month that I’ve been down, I’ve reflected a lot on a lot of things,” Kiermaier said. “A lot of memories here, I’m going to try and not tear up, but I’ve learned that the things that can make me tear and cry pretty easily are my kids and Tampa Bay Rays.”

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - The tarp covers the infield as rain falls before a scheduled baseball game between the New Y...
Associated Press

Rainy season: Guardians postpone celebration due to forecast

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Guardians might as well keep umbrellas in their bat rack. Cleveland was forced to postpone a celebration and flag-raising ceremony Tuesday to honor its AL Central title before the opener of a three-game series against Tampa Bay due to a rainy weather forecast. The pregame pageantry has been pushed back until […]
17 hours ago
United States' Weston McKennie controls the ball during the international friendly soccer match bet...
Associated Press

US World Cup worries grow, 0-0 draw vs Saudis in last tuneup

The United States will limp into the World Cup, and not just because of all the Americans’ injuries. The U.S. played a 0-0 draw against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday night at Murcia, Spain, that was somewhere between unimpressive and alarming. After managing no shots on goal in Friday’s 2-0 loss to No. 24 Japan, the […]
17 hours ago
Attorney Alexandra Benevento, center, speaks with reporters during a news conference announcing a c...
Associated Press

Sex abuse allegations spread against cheerleading industry

Sprawling allegations of abuse against cheerleaders reached Tennessee on Monday in a case that escalates the accusations facing some of the sport’s top institutions. An adult coach sexually assaulted teenage boys at Premier Athletics, according to allegations in a federal lawsuit filed in Memphis that is similar to a previous complaint against Rockstar Cheer in […]
2 days ago
New York Yankees' Aaron Judge looks out before a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox Sunday, S...
Associated Press

MLB playoff primer: Things to know as postseason nears

Major League Baseball’s postseason has a little more heft this season. The playoffs are rapidly approaching, with the final regular season games set for Oct. 5. The postseason begins two days later with a field of 12 teams — up from last year’s 10 — and includes a best-of-three format for the opening wild-card round. […]
2 days ago
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown (3) strips the ball from New York Giants wide receiver Ster...
Associated Press

Veteran Giants receiver Sterling Shepard has torn ACL

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Veteran wide receiver Sterling Shepard tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on the New York Giants’ final offensive play in their loss to the Dallas Cowboys, coach Brian Daboll said Tuesday. Daboll had indicated after Monday night’s game that the injury to New York’s leading receiver was […]
2 days ago
Stephen F. Austin safety JaTerious Evans brings down the Warner quarterback for a sack during an NC...
Associated Press

‘Whoa, 98-0’: Coach of team on end of huge loss OK with it

Two days after his Warner University football team lost 98-0 to Stephen F. Austin in one of the most lopsided games of all time, Dialleo Burks channeled his inner P.T. Barnum. Like the 19th-century circus impresario once said, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. It was in that vein that Burks recalled a conversation […]
2 days ago
Rays’ Kiermaier ponders future after hip surgery ends season