American League-worst Rays will be without Kevin Kiermaier for at least two months

Entering Monday, the Tampa Bay Rays had the American League's worst record, at 3-12.

As if that wasn't bad enough, the Rays received some unfortunate news prior to their game against the Texas Rangers: starting center fielder Kevin Kiermaier will miss at least two months after sustaining a torn ligament in his thumb on a slide Sunday afternoon:

Kiermaier was off to a horrid start, hitting .163/.250/.233 across his first 48 plate appearances. He'd struck out 18 times and had recorded just one stolen base on the season. Even with the struggles at the plate, Kiermaier's outstanding athleticism was still on display in center field.

Of course, the Rays should be accustomed to playing without Kiermaier for large stretches. Though he appeared in 151 games in 2015, he's averaged 102 appearances the past two seasons. Depending just how long Kiermaier misses, it's possible that this will be the second season in a row he finishes having played in fewer than 100 games.

In Kiermaier's place, the Rays will trot out an outfield low on star power. Mallex Smith could conceivably split center field duties with Johnny Field, himself a recent promotion. The Rays also have Carlos Gomez and Denard Span on their 25-man roster, but neither is much of a center fielder anymore. The Rays acquired Jeremy Hazelbaker in a small trade earlier in the month. He seems likely to be recalled once the Rays place Kiermaier on the disabled list. 

CBS Sports Staff

R.J. Anderson joined CBS Sports in 2016. He previously wrote for Baseball Prospectus, where he contributed to five of the New York Times bestselling annuals. His work has also appeared in Newsweek and... Full Bio

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