Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier was forced to exit Thursday's game against the White Sox after suffering an injury to his hip while sliding into first base.

We generally hate the slide into first base unless it's to avoid a collision, and it's possible that's what happened here. It's just that Kiermaier's foot caught the front of first base and buckled his hip.

The news gets pretty bad from here. There's a hairline fracture in Kiermaier's hip area and he'll be out around two months. Via tampabay.com:

Kiermaier will need 6-8 weeks for the fracture to heal and then work his way back into baseball shape, returning, at the earliest, sometime in August.

"He's going to be out a while,'' manager Kevin Cash said.

This is obviously a big blow to the Rays. Kiermaier is generally regarded as the premier defensive center fielder in baseball. He's hitting .258/.329/.408 (104 OPS+) with 10 doubles, two triples, seven homers and 10 steals as well, so he's an asset both at the plate and on the field. The Rays signed him to a six-year, $53 million contract extension this past winter.

The Rays enter Friday 31-31, which is in contention in the AL East and certainly in the wild-card mix. Youngster Mallex Smith will get a chance in center with Kiermaier down. In 81 career games at the MLB level, Smith is a .241/.319/.358 hitter with 19 stolen bases. In 30 games for Triple-A Durham this season, he's hitting .311/.345/.477 with 16 stolen bases.