MINNEAPOLIS -- Just when it seemed like Bradley Zimmer was running out of time to make it back for the 2019 season, the Indians outfielder was cleared to get into game action.
Indians manager Terry Francona said Zimmer will DH in an Arizona League game Sunday, which will start his 20-day rehab clock.
"Hopefully, [he'll] play in the outfield. ... They said later in the week," Francona said.
Zimmer has had a challenging road to get to this point. After having season-ending shoulder surgery last July, the 26-year-old came into Spring Training confident that he'd be back with the big league team in the first half of the season. But right around Opening Day, Zimmer suffered a setback, straining his left oblique, which shut him down for a few weeks.
He was able to ramp himself up to the point of nearly being sent on a rehab assignment toward the end of June, but started to feel some pain in his shoulder that sidelined him. Once his shoulder was back to full strength, Zimmer then pulled his other oblique, which set him back one more time.
Zimmer will have 20 days to compete in Minor League games. Originally, the Indians had the outfielder slated to play his first game Saturday, but they decided to bump it back a day to make his clock end closer to Sept. 1. At that point, Zimmer will be able to join the big league club when the roster expands.
Challenging schedule ahead
MLB.com's Matt Kelly released a ranking of each contender's strength of schedule on Friday, tabbing the Indians with the eighth-most difficult matchups remaining. That is, of course, highlighted by three series against the Twins, including this weekend at Target Field.
"This team has been circling those games," Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis said prior to the trip to Minnesota. "This team has had one focus and one focus only the last two months, and that's been chasing down these Twins. ... And we did it even faster than maybe we might have thought.
"We're just trying to win the game that's in front of us. Even when you play teams with bad records, there's slip-ups, there's mistakes. There's stuff that happens. We're just coming to play every day and it's just not letting that happen. Even when you're playing the lower-record teams, to win this many games of it, and to win the games you're supposed to this often, is a real tip of the cap to this clubhouse."
Next step for Otero
Reliever Dan Otero (right shoulder inflammation) tossed a scoreless inning for Triple-A Columbus on Thursday and the righty was scheduled to pitch again Saturday for the Clippers. The Indians expected him to throw about 20 pitches.
This date in Indians history
1955: Trailing 4-2 in the bottom of the ninth, Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner hits a walk-off grand slam to give Cleveland a 6-4 win over Detroit.