Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier left Sunday’s game with a right thumb sprain after sliding head first into second base. At the time the extent of the injury was unknown and he was considered day-to-day. Not anymore: he’s gotta go under the knife.
Turns out that Kiermaier tore a ligament in his right thumb and the necessary operation is going to put him on the shelf for 8-12 weeks. Some combination of Johnny Field, Carlos Gomez, and Mallex Smith will cover center field between now and July, in all likelihood. All obviously represent defensive falloffs from Kiermaier, but then again most center fielders are.
Kiermaier wasn’t hitting well in the early going of the season, but he’s a career .260/.317/.426 hitter (106 OPS+). He’ll be missed by the Rays.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.
Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.
Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.
The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.