Kipnis optimistic about 2nd go-round in CF

September 12th, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG -- ran across Tropicana Field's turf, extended his arm and made a nice catch on the baseball that was dropping over his head. It was a smooth grab for the Tribe's new center fielder, even if was just a ball being tossed from the dugout for Kipnis to use to warm up.

During Tuesday's 2-0 win over the Rays, Kipnis had exactly zero balls sent to center field in his first game of the season at the position. The former second baseman -- out of Wednesday's lineup against Tampa Bay -- is making the transition to help accommodate the arrival of Josh Donaldson, who is taking over at third base, forcing to second.

Day one consisted of jogging from the dugout to center and a few tosses between innings.

"It's very nice of our pitching staff ... to give me a day to get my legs under me," Kipnis quipped. "I needed it, because that's a long run out there."

After the win Tuesday, Indians manager Terry Francona cracked a smile.

"I thought Kip played a clean center field," Francona joked. "He looked good throwing the ball in-between innings."

All kidding aside, Kipnis was happy to spend a day getting acclimated to center again -- similar to late last year. The difference last September was that Kipnis was moved to the outfield from second immediately upon being activated from the disabled list after a hamstring injury, and he had not played the outfield since his first year of professional baseball in 2009.

This time around, Kipnis has last season's experience to lean on, along with the fact that he is healthy. He also has roughly three weeks to accumulate innings in the field in preparation for the postseason.

"We weren't even standing on two good legs," Kipnis said of the move to center in 2017. "So, it's nice and hopefully we'll have enough time and health to get done what we want to and accomplish what we want to. We'll see. I might even be able to break in one of my own gloves here before October. That'd be nice."

For the time being, Kipnis is using former teammate 's backup glove from last year.

"He shapes it closest to the way I would, so that's why," Kipnis said. "I tried out some other ones. This was the closest one I could get to mine."

The glove did not get much use Tuesday, but that was fine by Kipnis.

"It's going to take some time," he said. "It's good to get day one underneath the belt here. ... We didn't get any balls, but we were ready. The legs were ready. We've been taking them off the bat in BP and getting good breaks and stuff. Hopefully, when we get back home, it'll continue."

Worth noting

• Tribe ace said Wednesday that he was fully on board with the decision to back up his next start until Sept. 18, meaning he will have seven days of rest between outings. The approach helps Cleveland line Kluber up for the postseason, while meeting his request of having an extra day off before his first October start.

"Eventually, things had to be shuffled around, whether we did it now or did it later," Kluber said. "I think maybe we just felt that doing it now kind of gives a chance to get back on more of a traditional routine before the postseason starts. But, I don't think that it makes that big of a difference when it happened."

• Donaldson went 0-for-4 in his Cleveland debut Tuesday and was given a scheduled day off (while being available off the bench) Wednesday. Following the team's off-day Thursday, the third baseman is expected to be back in the lineup for Friday's game against the Tigers.

"He woke up today feeling great," Francona said. "He looked good. He took some pretty healthy swings, too. It's a lot more fun to watch that swing when he's in your uniform."