Sunday, July 15, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays journal: Kevin Kiermaier coming around after swoon

ST. PETERSBURG — About a half-decade ago, Kevin Kiermaier made a personal, professional vow regarding his plate approach: worry about the sweet spot and forget the stats.

"I said I'm not gonna worry about what I hit," he said. "We're all trying to get to the big leagues, and once I got here, same thing. I'm just trying to have quality at-bats … find the barrel, and I can go to sleep good whenever I know I'm in control and feeling good in the box.

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"And that's the case for me right now."

Odds are, Kiermaier had one of his more restful nights when his head hit the pillow in Minneapolis on Wednesday evening. Gradually emerging from his post-disabled list funk, the Rays centerfielder had his first multihit game since April 14 with two singles and a solo home run in Wednesday's 4-2 win against the Tigers for a three-game sweep.

Kiermaier, who entered the Tigers series in a 3-for-26 skid, went 1-for-5 with a triple Monday and had a line-drive, RBI-single in the third inning in Tuesday's 5-2 triumph. Wednesday was his first three-hit game since Sept. 4, 2017.

"He said something (Tuesday) before the game started that he felt better at the plate," manager Kevin Cash said.

"Whether it was a mechanical adjustment, whether it was an adjustment with his approach, whatever it was, he felt good. We talked about it (Tuesday), we're talking about it again today because it looks like he's starting to turn the corner a little bit and get his season going."

Alvarado takes leave

The Rays announced Wednesday morning that RHP Jose Alvarado, who has made 41 relief appearances, has been placed on the Family Medical Emergency list.

Cash indicated that Alvarado, who earned his first win Tuesday night in his 76th career appearance, will not return before the All-Star break.

"We anticipate he'll be back ready to pitch for us on (July 20)," Cash said before Wednesday's game.

"He wasn't gonna pitch (Wednesday) obviously because of the two innings of work (Tuesday), but you go in to face a team like Minnesota that has a bunch of lefties, bunch of switch-hitters, so we'll need some guys to kind of step up."

Adames on the move back to minors

The Rays plan to announce as early as Thursday that they're optioning top prospect Willy Adames back to Triple-A Durham. INF Adames, who went 0-for-4 Wednesday, is batting .216 in limited opportunity, in part because SS Adeiny Hechavarria remains on the team.

Miscellaneous

The victory improved the Rays to 12-3 against the AL Central this season. They're 36-41 against everyone else. … Cash said he has heard nothing new regarding LHP Blake Snell potentially earning a replacement spot on the American League All-Star team. Snell was left off the roster despite leading the league in ERA (2.09) going into Sunday's announcement. … Wednesday's loss was the first for Tigers RHP Jordan Zimmermann since Sept. 12, 2017, a 12-game stretch without a defeat. … Rookie Hunter Wood became the 14th different starting pitcher (or "opener," if you prefer) used by the Rays this season. He pitched a scoreless first inning before giving way to Matt Andriese.

Audible

"I think the fastball's been something that's been there that I've been able to go off of, but I've also had an offspeed pitch, or a couple, that have either been good throughout the game or … one will be good and then another one will catch up. So I feel like I've been consistent with a couple of offspeed pitches, and it's allowed me to get through seven each time." — Snell, who at Minnesota on Thursday night seeks to notch his fifth consecutive start of at least seven innings with one run or fewer allowed

Times staff writers Thomas Bassinger and Marc Topkin contributed to this report. Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

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