The Rays received the terrible news today that second baseman Akinori Iwamura will miss the remainder of the 2009 season due to a torn ACL.
Iwamura, 30, hit .310 with eight stolen bases in his first 44 games of the season. His last game was Sunday afternoon in Miami, when he was hit by Marlins baserunner Chris Coghlan as he turned a 143 double play. He tore his ACL and suffered less serious damage to his MCL and his ankle. One of the most popular Rays players’ season ended as he was hauled off on a cart usually reserved for football injuries.
Now that the Rays no longer have Adam Kennedy, they must resort to Plan C. This involves starting a rotation of Ben Zobrist (who started twice for Iwamura this year), Willy Aybar and recent callup Reid Brignac. Brignac may be a legitimate longterm solution, being a natural shortstop and having that spot blocked by Jason Bartlett.
We will all miss the guy commonly known as “Aki.” My favorite story of his came from the time I met him at the 2008 FanFest. I gave him a card to sign his Baseball Magazine rookie card from 1997. He smiled and shouted “Rookie, rookie!” to the delight of everyone around. Then he said “12 years ago!” in his semibroken English, and proceeded to sign the card. He could play fundamental baseball and make everybody laugh.