Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier, recovering from a torn ligament in his right thumb, will begin a minor league rehab assignment on Tuesday. He is aiming to be activated “June 20th-ish,” which would be several weeks ahead of schedule, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Kiermaier, 28, was hitting a meager .163/.250/.233 in 48 plate appearances leading up to the injury. Mallex Smith has drawn the majority of starts in center field while Kiermaier has been absent.
Rob Refsnyder and Carlos Gomez have struggled offensively in the outfield corners. Smith has hit well, so he may push the other two out of playing time when Kiermaier reclaims his spot in center.
Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Nick Pivetta will rejoin the Phillies’ rotation, starting Tuesday’s series opener at home against the Cardinals. Vince Velasquez will remain in the bullpen.
Pivetta, 26, allowed 17 earned runs on 31 hits and eight walks with 16 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings across his first four starts of the season. The performance resulted in a demotion to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. In six starts there, Pivetta had a much better 3.41 ERA with a 50/20 K/BB ratio in 37 innings of work.
Velasquez, 26, was solid as a starter, posting a 3.99 ERA across six starts. However, he averaged under five innings and 92 pitches per start. The right-hander tossed two scoreless innings out of the bullpen on Friday against the Brewers but was torched for four runs in two-thirds of an inning on Sunday. Mixed results, to say the least. The Phillies are trying to do what they can with their bullpen, currently missing David Robertson, Tommy Hunter, Pat Neshek, and Vìctor Arano.