Kipnis, Brantley on verge of returns to lineup
Both players may have to DH at first
MINNEAPOLIS -- Two of the Indians' top players are on the verge of rejoining the team's lineup, but Cleveland has encountered an issue. Upon their respective returns, the Tribe would prefer to use Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis in the designated hitter role before having them play the field.
"We can't have two DHs," Indians manager Terry Francona said on Sunday.
Come Monday in Boston, it appears most likely that Brantley will be cleared to serve as Cleveland's DH, while the Indians may give Kipnis at least one more day before activating him from the 15-day disabled list. Both Brantley (not on the DL) and Kipnis have been dealing with soreness in their throwing shoulders.
Brantley received a cortisone shot in Cleveland on Friday, met the Indians in Minneapolis on Saturday and resumed swinging a bat on Sunday, but remained out of the lineup due to his left shoulder discomfort. Kipnis, who has been on the DL since Aug. 2, has been hitting and playing catch, and will be eligible for activation on Monday.
Due to Brantley's uncertain status, Kipnis' return might be put on hold.
"He's doing great," Francona said of Kipnis. "Depending on how [Brantley] is, he might be available to DH [on Monday]. ... Kip, I don't even know if we'd activate him [Monday] or not -- it's going to be close. He certainly can be activated, but he's not ready to play second. The medical staff, I think, would like to see him throw to bases first, just to make sure he's fine. I think Kip's kind of champing at the bit, which I don't blame him. We'll get it figured.
Francona said the Indians have not considered a Minor League rehab assignment for Kipnis to this point.
"I don't think he needs it," Francona said. "He's been hitting pretty much most of the time. The only time he was down was when he got that [cortisone shot a couple weeks ago]. And, if he felt like he needed it, he would've said it."