ST.PETERSBURG — Tampa Bay center fielder Kevin Kiermaier has a torn ligament in his right thumb that requires surgery and could be sidelined two to three months.
The Rays placed the defensive whiz on the 10-day disabled list Monday, a day after he was injured sliding headfirst into second base during a 10-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. Kiermaier said he will have surgery Friday.
"I kind of expected it," he said. "Hearing those words that I'll be out for months at a time is really hard to take right now."
This will be the third straight season the two-time Gold Glove winner will miss significant time because of injury.
Kiermaier, batting .163 with one RBI, missed 48 games in 2016 after breaking his left wrist diving for a ball. Last season, he fractured his right hip sliding feet first into first base and was out 61 games.
"For this to happen, third consecutive year, another freak type of injury, it's hard to put into words," Kiermaier said. "I'm shocked, surprised. Sometimes it doesn't feel real just because this has to be some kind of sick joke."
Tampa Bay is off to tough start, entering Monday with a 3-12 record.
"We're going to do things to stay positive, continue working," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We know we're in a rough patch. KK going down doesn't help us get out of it. We've got to rally around that and pick each other up."
Cash said Mallex Smith, who has been in left field, will get the bulk of playing time in center.
Right-handed pitcher Chih-Wei Hu was recalled from Triple-A Durham to fill Kiermaier's roster spot.