CLEVELAND -- After 74 days of battling through injuries, Francisco Lindor is back.
The Indians announced Saturday afternoon that the All-Star shortstop has been activated off the 10-day injured list prior to the team’s doubleheader against the Braves, and he made his season debut in the leadoff spot in Game 2. In a corresponding move, designated hitter Hanley Ramirez was designated for assignment.
“It’s been a long three months,” Lindor said. “Missing the flights, missing getting to a hotel, getting your room key and figuring out what you’re going to eat. I miss that. I miss my teammates, I miss the game. I miss the things within the game. It’s an honor, [and] it’s a privilege to be healthy. It’s a blessing, and I ain’t taking it for granted. I used to take health for granted. Not [anymore]. Every person that’s hurt, it’s some tough times.”
“I think you’d be surprised how much guys do miss it,” manager Terry Francona said. “And Frankie -- I mean I was around him enough to know that he was miserable not playing.”
Francona said his shortstop will play again on Monday. From there, Lindor will take some reps as the club's designated hitter as he eases his way into the season.
“It’s not like he can’t play three out of four, four out of five [games],” Francona said. “It’s just we’ll pick a spot, and like I said, we’ll DH him at times just to -- it’s not just for his ankle, but it’s his whole body. We want him to be able to help us. We don’t want to run him into the ground. So we’ll try to use common sense.”
Lindor first suffered a right calf strain on Feb. 6, before spraining his left ankle while running the bases in an intrasquad game in Goodyear, Ariz., on March 26. He was sent on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus on Tuesday and hit .417/.462/1.000 in three games with two homers, two RBIs and one double. While it’s expected that he returns to his leadoff spot in the Tribe’s lineup, Lindor is open to hitting in any slot that he’s needed.
“We have a different team from last year,” Lindor said. “Where [Francona] needs me, I’m going to hit. If he needs me second, I’ll hit second. If he needs me third, I’ll hit third. If he needs me last, and hopefully he doesn’t need me last, but I will hit last. Wherever he needs me, I’m going to be there and I’m going to be Francisco Lindor. I’m going to be the same player regardless of where I’m hitting.”
Lindor said his ankle, although it will be in a brace and taped, will not limit him at shortstop.
“If I make any errors, it’s not because of my ankle,” Lindor said. “It will never be because of my ankle; it will be because of me. I’m going to go out there as hard as I can. If I don’t get to any -- a certain ball that you guys have probably seen me get to -- it’s not because of my ankle. I’ll be better, trust me. I’ll be in a good spot.”
The Indians informed Ramirez on Friday that he had been designated for assignment. He played in 16 games for the Tribe. As the team set its 25-man roster out of Spring Training, the 35-year-old was the final player to make the cut. Ramirez joined the Indians late in spring on Feb. 26 and Francona said they struggled to evaluate his swing during camp.
When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster, and 25-man roster if he was on that as well. Within seven days of the transaction (it was previously 10 days), the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.
Ramirez's bat speed is what won him a shot and, after 49 at-bats, he hit .184 with a .625 OPS, while racking up one double, two home runs, eight RBIs and 17 strikeouts.
“It just put us in a little bit of a hole if we didn’t have another infielder and if Frankie’s gonna do some DH-ing,” Francona said. “[Ramirez] was about as professional as you could be. And I wanted to make sure people understood this was a baseball decision. Hanley was a model citizen for us. … I know he wants to keep playing, and I hope he does because he handled himself so well.”
Clevinger ruled out for surgery
Francona said that Mike Clevinger (upper back strain) will not need surgery. He’s going to get re-examined with an MRI at some point in the future that will help the team determine when he will be able to pick up a baseball.
This date in Indians history
April 20, 1910: Future Hall of Famer Addie Joss tossed his second career no-hitter, leading the Cleveland Naps to a 1-0 victory over the White Sox.