Injured Kiermaier trying not to sweat time off

Center fielder has activity limited with fractured left hand, focused on return

Injured Kiermaier trying not to sweat time off

ST. PETERSBURG -- For the next five days, Kevin Kiermaier has to make sure he doesn't sweat. The Gold Glover with a fractured left hand isn't a fan of all the planned downtime that he has lying in wait for the next two months, but he doesn't have much of a choice.

Because his surgical cut is still somewhat exposed, Kiermaier can't jog or throw -- or anything that will risk his body perspiring and the cut being infected. So for the next five days, Tampa Bay's center fielder is limited to hand exercises and core rotations.

"I definitely don't want to get out of shape," Kiermaier said. "I'm trying to eat some salads. I'm not trying to let my metabolism take over. I'm not trying to gain weight."

Kiermaier fractured his left hand on Saturday when going after a fly ball in Detroit. He had surgery on Tuesday and will miss 8-10 weeks -- though he says it's conceivable he'll be back sooner than that. He was hitting .236 with five homers and 16 RBIs before the injury. Rays manager Kevin Cash has used a rotation of Mikie Mahtook, Brandon Guyer and Desmond Jennings in center field to spell his absence.

"It's a tough loss that we're going to have to rally around," Cash said. "Just seeing him here, he's been getting treatment. Just seeing his hand in a cast, it's a little frustrating because you know what he does for us on a nightly basis."

The only pain that Kiermaier says he feels is when he does exercises to loosen up the tendons in his hand, but otherwise he feels fine. He was in good spirits on Friday afternoon, before Tampa Bay's game against the Yankees. After the initial injury six days before, he was emotional in the clubhouse knowing it'd be a long road back.

Kiermaier is solely focused on his return, saying that he's sending his positive vibes down to his hand. For now, though, that means doing everything he can before he starts to sweat. He joked that meant playing "mind games" to keep that from happening. But even just a sign of it will trigger the trainers to make him take a break.

It's not where Kiermaier wants to be, but it's a necessary step.

"Just being out for an extended period of time was tough for me to accept," Kiermaier said. "But I've accepted it now."

Sam Blum is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.