You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

MLB

  • Kershaw, Trout win MVP awards
    For once, Clayton Kershaw was glad to see a long shutout streak end. Kershaw became the first pitcher to win the National League MVP award since Bob Gibson in 1968, coasting to an easy victory Thursday.
  • Clayton Kershaw, Mike Trout win MVP awards
    NEW YORK — Clayton Kershaw became the first pitcher to win the National League MVP award in nearly a half-century, coasting an easy victory Thursday.
  • Clayton Kershaw, Corey Kluber win Cy Young Awards
    NEW YORK — Cleveland's Corey Kluber won the AL Cy Young Award, edging Seattle's Felix Hernandez.
Advertisement
Associated Press
Kevin Kiermaier’s aggressive play was in full view when he leapt but was unable to grab a run-scoring double by Texas’ Shin-Shoo Choo last Tuesday.

Luers graduate’s aggressive style impresses Rays

Associated Press
Kevin Kiermaier is congratulated by his teammates after a two-run home run. “Obviously he’s hit really well. There’s not a whole lot not to like,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

ARLINGTON, Texas

Globe Life Park in Arlington will always be a special place for Kevin Kiermaier because it’s where he made his big-league debut. On Sept. 30, 2013, the Fort Wayne native debuted as a defensive replacement for Tampa Bay as the Rays beat Texas in the Game 163 tiebreaker to advance to the American League wild-card game at Cleveland a few days later.

Last week, Kiermaier, 24, returned with the Rays to Arlington for the first time since his debut.

“This is where it all started and a really cool place,” he said. “It feels like yesterday we were here and seems we were just popping all the champagne celebrating, getting my first taste of postgame in the big leagues to see how everything works in the playoffs. It feels great to be back.”

The Bishop Luers product started 2014 at Triple-A Durham but was promoted to the Rays on April 12. Through Sunday, he had played 75 games and was hitting .268 with nine home runs and 29 RBI.

Kiermaier, who has played right field and center field with the Rays, has made a great first impression on his new teammates and on manager Joe Maddon.

“Overall, (I like) just everything – the way he plays, the effort, the intensity, the hustle. That is obviously really pleasing to the rest of the group. Beyond that, obviously he’s hit really well. There’s not a whole lot not to like,” Maddon said.

Two words often used to describe Kiermaier are “aggressive” and “fearless,” two qualities on full display in every game he plays. Whether it’s in the field or running the bases, he plays with a reckless abandon, an approach he’s had for as long as he can remember and one that clearly works.

“Yeah, that’s the way I’ve been my whole life. Sometimes it’s going to bite me in the butt,” Kiermaier said. “There’s a time and place for everything, to be aggressive. I’m just learning when the time is right to really charge on a ball or try to throw a guy out, certain things like that. I’m not going to hit every day, but you can always count on my speed and my defense to be there day in, day out. That’s something I take a lot of pride in. I want people to know that when they watch Kevin Kiermaier that he’s going to go all out and you don’t have to worry about him slacking off out there.”

Maddon respects Kiermaier’s aggressiveness but is also working with him to make sure he knows there are proper times and situations to be aggressive.

“He’s made some mistakes. He’s made more mental mistakes than anything, but some of those are mental mistakes of aggression if that makes any sense – overthrowing, throwing to the wrong base, just overzealousness,” Maddon said. “I’ll take that over a passive player. I’ll take that and tone him down a bit.”

Kiermaier’s teammates have embraced him, but he still has dues to pay as a rookie, but no matter what those rookie rites of passage are, they’re something he willingly does.

“When we went to Houston, me and a couple of guys had to wear a sombrero and these real colorful poncho- looking things with these huge mustaches that were so itchy. And we also had to carry water and drinks on the plane,” he said. “I’m carrying this boombox around for the plane. But if that’s the worst of my problems then I’ve got it pretty good.”

Advertisement