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Kevin Kiermaier aiming to return from DL

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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.