How does Byrd's suspension impact Indians?
Chisenhall, Ramirez likely to get the most time manning outfield corners
CLEVELAND -- The Indians' outfield has been dealing with setbacks since the offseason. On Wednesday, that segment of Cleveland's roster was dealt another blow with the news that veteran Marlon Byrd has received a 162-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.
Byrd tested positive for the growth hormone secretagogue Ipamorelin, which violates Major League Baseball's Joint Drug and Prevention Program. It is the second suspension of Byrd's career, and the second this season for an Indians outfielder, following Abraham Almonte's 80-game punishment during Spring Training for testing positive for Boldenone.
• Byrd gets 162-game suspension for PEDs
"It's disappointing," said Chris Antonetti, the Indians' president of baseball operations. "But our responsibility now is to deal with that reality and give other guys opportunities to contribute and step forward, and contribute and pick up the slack with it."
Beyond the suspensions, Cleveland's outfield corps has also been hit with injuries this season. Left fielder Michael Brantley underwent surgery on his right shoulder in November and is currently on the 15-day disabled list for the second time this season. Right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall, while healthy and back with the Tribe, missed most of the spring and a portion of April due to wrist and forearm problems.
Here is a look at how the latest setback affects the Indians' outfield:
Does Byrd's suspension impact Brantley's timetable for return?
The Indians are taking a conservative approach to Brantley's latest comeback from shoulder soreness, and that will not change in light of the Byrd news. Antonetti noted that Brantley continues to hit off a tee and added that it could still be "a few weeks" before the left fielder is ready to rejoin Cleveland.
"This won't have any impact on Michael's timetable," Antonetti said. "We are all of the same mindset in making sure that we go through his rehab in a very thoughtful and judicious way to make sure that, when he comes back again, he's not only healthy, but strong and ready to contribute for the balance of the season."
Will the Indians look to the trade market for outfield help?
There are still two months until the non-waiver Trade Deadline, but the loss of Byrd and the absence of Brantley weakens the outfield right now. Antonetti was asked if he might begin exploring alternatives from outside the organization to shore up the outfield situation, and the team's top decision-maker did not rule out that possibility.
"That's something that we'll take some time to determine," Antonetti said. "The first thing we'll do is give the guys that are here the opportunity. And then, part of our responsibility, not only in this instance but just generally, is to continue to look for options that would make our team better. This creates another potential opportunity in our outfield to do that."
What does the outfield look like in the immediate picture?
Cleveland called up rookie Tyler Naquin on Wednesday, so he will be worked into the mix again, especially against right-handed pitching. Chisenhall will continue to handle the bulk of the innings in right field, while Rajai Davis and Jose Ramirez will likely take on most of the workload in center and left, respectively. Utility man Michael Martinez could also see more action now.
"A little bit all season," Indians manager Terry Francona said, "whether it's righties or lefties, at times we've had a position where we didn't have the platoon advantage you might want. In the near future, that could be the case. It actually could help. It could create some spots for Lonnie to face lefties, which could help him. Michael Martinez might get to play a little bit. We'll see. I don't have all the answers to that because this is still pretty fresh."