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Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier: ‘This stuff could only happen to me’

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Tampa Bay Times
Tampa Bay Times
 2021-05-23
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Rays centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier on an eyelash taking him out of the lineup: "After being on the (injured list) a couple times already (with quad and wrist issues), this is the last thing I want to deal with." [ JULIO CORTEZ | Associated Press ]

DUNEDIN — The issue that forced Rays centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier out of Saturday’s game started — as benignly as this sounds — with a rogue eyelash.

“Just one of those weird things,” Kiermaier said. “And it seems like this stuff could only happen to me.”

Kiermaier said he was going through batting practice with no issues when he felt some discomfort in his left eye and went in to be checked by the athletic training staff.

“We rinsed my eye in trying to get (the eyelash) and then it disappeared, or kind of went into one of these crevices or whatever,” Kiermaier explained. “Once that happened, everything took a turn for the worse.

“I don’t know how, or if, we scratched it. Whatever it was, that’s definitely what it feels like. The way I keep telling people, it just feels like a piece of sand is on the inside of my eyelid. And every time I blink it’s just grinding … just pressure, irritation, a scratching feeling.”

Kiermaier figured it would go away, and that steady dosing of eye drops would help, but focus became an issue. “It just made my blood boil,” Kiermaier said. “I was so frustrated over it and we just couldn’t figure it out.”

One at-bat (with protective goggles) and four innings in the field was enough, and manager Kevin Cash took Kiermaier out. He said he felt slightly better Sunday but didn’t start — though Cash said he was slated to be off anyway — but was said to be available off the bench.

“Wasn’t happy or proud about (coming out) at all,” Kiermaier said. “These things happen, unfortunately. … After being on the (injured list) a couple times already (with quad and wrist issues), this is the last thing I want to deal with. I’ll be fine. But definitely didn’t want to miss any time other than what I have already, especially with the fluky thing like this.”

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