CLEVELAND -- The Indians managed to walk away from their first seven games of the season with four victories under their belt without their starting shortstop or second baseman. And while they’ve managed to get by, the club is still counting down the days until its roster is back to
CLEVELAND -- The Indians managed to walk away from their first seven games of the season with four victories under their belt without their starting shortstop or second baseman. And while they’ve managed to get by, the club is still counting down the days until its roster is back to full strength.
Second baseman Jason Kipnis passed his first test in his rehab assignment, coming out of Friday’s game with Triple-A Columbus feeling well. He went 0-for-3 with groundouts to short, catcher (on a bunt) and second, but the Indians are evaluating more than just his performance at the plate.
“He didn’t have anything to show for it in the box score,” manager Terry Francona said. “But he laid down a bunt and I think they said he got down the line in 4.25 [seconds], so that’s good. He had no issues.”
Kipnis has been out since he strained his right calf in a spring game on March 20. The plan will be for Kipnis to play again on Saturday for about five or six innings and get a day off on Sunday. The team does not have a set timetable for his return, as it plans to evaluate Kipnis day by day to see when his body will be ready to compete with the big league club.
“It’s hard,” Francona said. “You say five or six innings, but they’re also keeping track of how much time he’s on defense and things like that. So, he’ll play again today.”
While Kipnis may be starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel after rehabbing his calf for the past two weeks, Francisco Lindor will be a little further behind him. The shortstop -- who was first out with a right calf strain since Feb. 6 and is now sidelined with a left ankle sprain -- has been at Progressive Field this past week, doing light workouts alongside his teammates. He will be reevaluated at some point next week to determine his next step.
“He’s getting better every day,” Francona said. “He’s getting a little friskier every day, which is good. When we have news, we’ll certainly share it. But he’s doing a good job of getting after it. He’s in here early and he’s getting after it pretty good.”
Minor League Roundup
• Carlos Gonzalez, Triple-A: Gonzalez recorded two hits on Friday, going 2-for-5 with a walk. Francona said that the outfielder will likely get a day off on Sunday after playing in the team’s first three games. “I don’t think we’re as much evaluating him as trying to get him ready,” Francona said. “Whatever his batting average is, at some point it’s not gonna matter. Nobody’s gonna care come July or August.”
• Yu Chang, Indians' No. 11 prospect (according to MLB Pipeline), Triple-A: After Eric Stamets’ slow start to the 2019 season, more eyes have been drawn to infielder Chang in Columbus. The 23-year-old started at shortstop on Friday and went 2-for-6 on the night with a double and three RBIs.
• Daniel Johnson, No. 22 prospect, Double-A: After going 0-for-4 in the season opener on Thursday, Johnson was a single shy of hitting for the cycle on Friday. He doubled, tripled and hit a solo homer with two runs scored and an RBI in his 3-for-5 outing.
This date in Indians history
2001: Juan Gonzalez and Jim Thome hit back-to-back home runs in the sixth inning against Baltimore to tie the game at 3. Gonzalez drew a bases-loaded walk in the seventh inning to force in the winning run in the Tribe’s 4-3 victory.
Mandy Bell covers the Indians for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MandyBell02.