CLEVELAND -- Bradley Zimmer underwent surgery on his left hand (fractured fourth metacarpal) on Tuesday morning at the New York Hand and Wrist Center of Lenox Hill in Manhattan. Dr. Thomas Graham, who examined Zimmer on Monday, performed the operation, which required a plate and nine screws to fixate the fracture.
It's estimated that Zimmer will return to full baseball activity in six to eight weeks.
In the seventh inning of Sunday's 3-2 win over the Orioles, Zimmer sustained the injury during a head-first slide into first base. The young outfielder chopped a pitch to first baseman Chris Davis, who stepped on Zimmer's left hand while hustling to apply the tag on the runner. Zimmer immediately hunched over in pain and saw his standout rookie campaign effectively come to a close.
Prior to Monday's 11-0 win over the Tigers, Indians manager Terry Francona said he had no issue with Zimmer's slide, and he stressed to the outfielder not to change his aggressive style of play.
"I talked to him last night," Francona said on Monday. "I said, 'Hey, if you're feeling [like you did something wrong], don't.' I know you hear so often, 'Don't slide head-first into first.' You hear it all the time. I disagree. As a baserunner, when you're running that way and the fielder's coming this way, or the pitcher is coming this way, sometimes the best way to get to the bag is by sliding.
"And, yeah, he got stepped on, but you could just as easily blow out an ankle or a knee. I mean, that guy hit his hand. It would have hit his foot. It's hard for a runner when you have somebody else coming. You're really vulnerable. Sometimes I actually think going head-first is safer. This didn't work, but he could have just as easily blew his knee out. So, I kind of disagree when people say just don't do it."
In 101 games this season for the American League Central-leading Indians, the 24-year-old Zimmer hit .241 with eight home runs, 15 doubles, 39 RBIs and 41 runs scored. He injected a much-needed element of speed (team-high 18 stolen bases) to the offense and has been a constant source of highlight-reel plays in center field.
With Zimmer sidelined, the Indians will likely use a mix of outfielders in center. Rookie Greg Allen got the start on Monday night and veteran Austin Jackson was expected to be in the lineup on Tuesday. Cleveland also has options in Tyler Naquin, Lonnie Chisenhall and Abraham Almonte. Francona also noted on Monday that the team plans on getting Jason Kipnis work in center over the next week to see if he can play there when he is ready to come off the disabled list.
"This could be a huge addition for us," Francona said. "Where, on a night when you're kind of feeling like, 'Oh, man, we lost our best defender,' all of a sudden, you talk about putting Kipnis in the lineup, a guy that's made the All-Star team a couple times. We've just got to get him enough reps where ... he's comfortable and get his swing back."