By now, we are all well aware of Kevin Kiermaier and what he brings to the table. The man swings a nice bat from the left side, plays some of the best defense you'll ever see in center field .... and is made of glass.
To kick off his tenure on the 2023 Toronto Blue Jays, fans of the club have yet to see the latter part of that. The 33-year-old has been an integral part of this team both at the plate and on the field, without encountering any major health scares.
However, in Saturday's contest against the Twins, Kiermaier had to make an early exit. In the first inning, he attemped to throw out Willi Castro at home plate. In the very next inning, he did the same with Kyle Farmer at home plate. After the second one, he was pulled from the game nearly immediately after, as he appeared to be experiencing discomfort in his lower back. In a recent column, Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith says that Kiermaier himself had the following to say about these plays:
"By the second throw I was not feeling good at all, I knew I did something to tick something off down here. I knew that I was going to have to come out of the game, which I'm not proud of, but these things can linger."- Kevin Kiermaier on lower back discomfort
For someone with such a checkered past when it comes to injuries, it was definitely the best call for Kiermaier and the Blue Jays to take him out, and then to leave him out of Sunday's lineup as well. Daulton Varsho represents an immediate replacement, while Whit Merrifield, Nathan Lukes and even George Springer are also center field-capable options in a pinch.
John Schneider said after Sunday's game that Kiermaier was doing better, and that having Monday off would be an even bigger help for him, as it gives him more time to rest and recover.
On the season, the defensive phenom has been an incredible offensive threat for the Blue Jays as well. So far, he has been an extra-base hit machine, hitting nine doubles, three triples and four home runs alongside 15 RBI, five stolen bases, a .319 average and a 144 OPS+. Through and through, he is currently one of the best offseason signings around the league, and for a massively cheap price as well.
"It's not the end of the world, my low back and hips have caused me a lot of grief over the years. And I felt great (Saturday) until that one movement. It definitely threw a wrench in my plans and my day in general, but I'm just going to accept it, move on, and I'll be good to go."- Kevin Kiermaier on lower back discomfort