Inbox: When is Mercado getting call from Tribe?

Beat reporter Mandy Bell answers questions from Indians fans

April 29th, 2019

HOUSTON -- The Indians have and back and healthy, has made his way back to the big leagues, and has fully recovered from a pectoral strain. Are the Indians satisfied with where the roster stands?

Let's take a look in this week's Indians Inbox:

Absolutely. It's not necessarily a matter of if will get the call; it's more of a question of when. Recalling on Sunday caused a lot of Indians fans to question why Mercado was not the outfielder getting the call. At this point, it seems like the Indians want to wait a little longer, despite the numbers he's producing at Triple-A Columbus.

Every time Indians manager Terry Francona has been asked about some of his players' struggling bats, his answers include the difficulties that April can bring to anyone in the lineup, especially the younger guys. Although he said Mercado showed enough through Spring Training to have the Indians consider him breaking camp with the team, Francona mentioned the early-season conditions as a reason to not take him with them.

"In the end, the way we're situated, playing once or twice a week in April in Cleveland, first time in the Major Leagues, we didn't think that was setting him up for success," Francona said in March.

But the manager recently said there will be more moves to come, as guys like Lindor and settle in on offense. Mercado may not have gotten the call on Sunday, but the Indians' No. 19 prospect (according to MLB Pipeline) will be on his way soon enough.

Short answer: 100 percent.

was pulled from his April 7 start with an upper back strain, and the team placed him on the 60-day injured list, thinking that he wouldn't be able to touch a baseball for six to eight weeks. Well, less than three weeks later he was shagging fly balls during batting practice in Houston.

Clevinger is expected to play catch this week. If that goes well, it's likely he will begin a throwing program soon after to ramp his right arm back up. The earliest date he can come off the injured list is June 6, so because of his progress already, it's likely he'll be back well before the All-Star break (July 8-10).

Not as likely as someone like Mercado. The Indians have had a clear need for outfielders since the start of the offseason, and not much has changed. If Mercado comes up, that allows to share the first base/DH role with , so there's really no room on the roster for No. 6 prospect .

Bradley would fill the same purpose as both Bauers and Santana as a first baseman/DH, and the team does not need to carry three of them. Barring an injury, it's less likely to see Bradley before September, but not impossible.

As of Saturday, was in the batting cages, slowly working his way back after suffering a bit of a setback. On March 23, he was throwing to home plate from the outfield in Goodyear, Ariz., as part of his rehab process and strained a side muscle, according to Francona.

Although the Indians thought it would only push him back a week, it seemed to slow his rehab quite a bit. But he's at least stepped up from taking dry swings to getting back in the cage.

has more than earned his way into getting another look by the Indians. His only competition will be once he returns from the injured list (right forearm strain). As of last week, Plutko was on track to be back around May 8. The Indians can carry four starters one more time through the rotation due to off-days before needing a fifth man (likely May 7).

It's reasonable to assume that Rodriguez will get that first start. If he continues to have success, there's a good chance he stays around. If he struggles, then Plutko -- assuming his recovery stays on schedule -- will be one call away from getting his shot.