Kevin Kiermaier happy to be back on the field, begin road back to Rays

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Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier is excited to be back on the field and begin his road back to the major leagues.

- It felt good. It felt good to put on a uniform again and go out there and play a baseball game. I don't care if it's in the Florida State League or not, it just felt good to be part of a team again and taking the field. And even though I was the designated hitter tonight, this is-- it's been a long-- long time since I've played. So I'm-- I'm happy.

And you know, I get to play center field tomorrow. And I felt pretty good up at the box tonight. I'm happy with my bats for the first time in seven and a half, eight weeks. So I'll take it, but, you know, definitely have some work to do. And you know, that's what these next 10 days are for.

INTERVIEWER: How do you feel percentage-wise would you-- are you close to 100%?

- I feel-- yeah, I feel about as close to the 100% as possible. And you know, like I said, our trainers, they're trying to monitor me and take everything slow. But at the same time, I've made great progression this whole rehab stint.

Credit to Paul Harker for all he's done for me this whole rehab process. I feel great. And I'm ahead of schedule, which is a great thing. But at the same time, we all feel comfortable for me being out there. And they're trusting what I say. So I feel good. And we're just going to try to keep taking positive steps forward.

INTERVIEWER: So what's the schedule for you over the next 10 days?

- I got a game here tomorrow. And then, I travel to Durham on Thursday. Then, I play there Friday, Saturday, Sunday, travel back to Florida on Monday, and then Stone Crab next Tuesday, Wednesday, off day Thursday, back in the big leagues next Friday, if everything goes well.

So that's what the plan I'm going to try to execute and that I'm pretty confident will happen. So I'll be back with my boys in a week and a half, which makes me really happy. But like I said, I'm going to try to get as many at-bats I can these next 10 days and prepare myself as best I can for the big leagues.

INTERVIEWER: How tough is it being [INAUDIBLE]?

- Yeah, it is. I mean, it's-- this is the third year in a row. And it's definitely not fun. But you know, things happen sometimes. And I've gotten hurt the past couple of years and not proud of that, by any means, but this game will throw you curveballs every now and then. And you know, the best thing for me to do is just get back on the field and help the team out any way I can. And that's what I plan on doing.

It's hard for me watching from the dugout every night, but I see light at the end of the tunnel now for me. And you know, I should be back here sooner than later, so I'm all smiles.