Naquin to DL with hip strain; Plutko recalled

Tribe's outfield continues to suffer setbacks as Trade Deadline nears

July 28th, 2018

DETROIT -- The clock is ticking down to Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline and the Indians' outfield situation not only remains problematic, but things just got a little worse.
Prior to Saturday's game against the Tigers, the Indians placed outfielder on the 10-day disabled list with a right hip strain. To fill Naquin's spot on the roster, Cleveland recalled pitcher from Triple-A Columbus. Outfielder also joined the Major League club from Triple-A on Saturday, but he was not active for the Tribe.
Indians manager Terry Francona is never one to talk down the players at his disposal, but he did note that Chris Antonetti, the team's president of baseball operations, and general manager Mike Chernoff are working hard behind the scenes to improve the outfield.
"They're trying," Francona said. "And I guess my view on it is, I see how hard they're trying, because I get the e-mails and I have the conversations. I also know they have to protect the health of the organization. So, if we make a trade, good. If we don't make a trade, good. That's how I feel. I feel like they've already helped us immensely.
"At some point, it falls on us in the uniform to get the job done. And, regardless of who's in our outfield, we're supposed to win. That's what we'll do."
Plutko was promoted because right-hander Mike Clevinger -- Saturday's planned starter against the Tigers -- was dealing with an illiness. In all likelihood, Allen will be officially recalled prior to Monday's game in Minnesota to replace Naquin's spot among the outfielders. The Indians have to wait until then, since Allen was not in the Minor Leagues for at least 10 days.

Cleveland's outfield alignment was already complicated by the setbacks this season to center fielder (done for the year after right shoulder surgery) and right fielder (possibly out for the season with a serious right calf strain). Losing Naquin --- an option for both center and right -- makes the need for outfield help more pressing.
Francona said the team will have more information about Naquin's status on Sunday.
The Indians are set in left field with All-Star , who has enjoyed a strong comeback campaign after missing significant time over the past two seasons due to shoulder and ankle woes. At the moment, is the primary option for center field, though Allen would split time there once added to the roster. Right field features a platoon-type scenario with and .

Overall, the Indians have produced a 61 weighted Runs Created Plus out of center field this season, meaning the offensive showing has been 39 percent below league average. Cleveland's right fielders have a collective 88 wRC+, but that includes Chisenhall's performance prior to landing on the DL earlier this month.
In recent days, the Indians have been linked to Baltimore's and Texas' Joey Gallo in trade reports. Players like Cincinnati's , Toronto's and both and of the Tigers also look like potential fits to varying degrees. The Indians are not hesitant to target a rental, but the club's preferred route is always to target players with multiple years of control.
The other scenario would be for the Indians to look at alternatives for second or third base. Indians third baseman has the ability to play second -- his natural position -- and has limited experience in the outfield. Down the stretch last season, Kipnis shifted to center under similar circumstances. Last week, Francona said there would need to be "a compelling reason" to take the same approach this season.
Along those lines, a report by Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Saturday listed the Indians as one of the teams that have shown interest in Twins second baseman .
Francona said he has a lot of input in the Tribe's internal trade discussions.
"Maybe sometimes more than they would like," Francona joked. "No, they're really good about -- and it's not just me, it's everybody -- I think that word 'collaboration' is a big word. But, I think they live by it. Chris set a tone when I first got here. ... People aren't afraid to give an opinion, and Chris takes it and digests it and we kind of talk through it together. It's a very productive way of going about things."

One positive development for the Tribe's outfield of late has been the performance of Guyer, who is utilized against left-handed pitching. In the eighth inning on Friday, he belted a pinch-hit, three-run homer off Tigers lefty . With that, Guyer now has a .282/.400/.577 slash line and a 165 wRC+ vs. lefties this year -- a showing that could influence how Cleveland approaches the Trade Deadline.
"Guyer is on our team," Francona said. "Now, when he starts to swing it like he does, that changes things for the opposing manager. Because, when Guyer came over here in 2016, he was that guy that kind of kept the lefty in the bullpen. I know what his batting average says, but for the next two months, if he swings it like he is now, I don't care what his batting average says, because he's a big threat."