On August 16, the Rays needed a roster spot for Carlos Pena who was coming off the DL. Gabe Kapler walked into the trainer’s room and came out with a sprained ankle and a trip to the DL.
Many (including us) assumed that “sprained ankle” was code for “sprained left roster spot,” and that he would return on September 1 when rosters expanded.
But September 1 came and went and there was no sign of Kapler. And now, seven weeks since he played his last game, Kapler still hasn’t returned. And now it looks like he won’t be back. In fact, a source close to the Rays told us that Kapler was not with the team in Kansas City and has likely returned home.
That’s one hell of a sprained ankle.
Or did the Rays tell Kapler not to come back? It is not a stretch to think that the Rays offered Kapler a spot on the DL to end the season, with the possibility of being activated only in the case where another player was injured. The alternative may have been an unceremonious release when he would have likely gone unsigned (he would not have been eligible for another team’s postseason roster).
Either way, it now looks like Kapler has played his last game with the Rays. A stint that lasted 2 seasons and saw him hit .228/.314/.383 in 158 games.
But if Kapler left a mark on this franchise, it is the corner down the left field line at The Trop. Of Kapler’s 10 home runs with the Rays, it feels like every single one just cleared the wall down the left field line where it angles sharply towards the plate.
And that’s why we will always call it “Kapler’s Korner.”