CLEVELAND -- One of the more impressive aspects of the Indians' historic winning streak has been the fact that the team has pulled it off with several key players out with injuries. Cleveland's depth will continue to be tested with the loss of standout rookie Bradley Zimmer.
During Sunday's 3-2 win over the Orioles, a victory that extended the Tribe's streak to 18 consecutive victories, Zimmer sustained a fractured left hand during an ill-fated dive into first base. In the wake of the win, manager Terry Francona noted that the center fielder would be examined by hand specialist Dr. Thomas Graham in the coming days, and more information might be available on Monday.
"He's got a broken bone in his hand," Francona said. "He got stepped on, on his finger. He had a pretty good gash on his finger."
Specifically, Zimmer sustained a fracture of the fourth metacarpal, which is below the palm and underneath the ring finger.
In the seventh inning, Zimmer chopped a pitch from Richard Bleier to Orioles first baseman Chris Davis. In an effort to avoid a tag from Davis, Zimmer dove head-first and tried to reach for the bag. Davis got the tag on Zimmer in time, but the first baseman stepped on the rookie's hand in the process. Zimmer landed hard on the ground, rolled over and immediately hunched over in pain.
Fellow Indians rookie Greg Allen, who was promoted from Double-A Akron this month, took over for Zimmer in center for the rest of the game.
In 101 games this season, Zimmer has turned in a .241/.307/.385 slash line with eight home runs, 15 doubles, two triples, 39 RBIs, 41 runs scored and 18 stolen bases. He has excelled defensively in center and helped introduce an element of speed to the offense that was lacking earlier in the year.
With Zimmer out for an undetermined amount of time, Cleveland will lean on a variety of options. Allen provides one possibility for center field, along with veterans Austin Jackson and Lonnie Chisenhall. The Indians also have Tyler Naquin and Abraham Almonte on the roster, and corner outfielder Brandon Guyer can play center if needed.
The Indians will have to use the same next-man-up mentality that has been on display during the winning streak with Andrew Miller, Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley sidelined with health issues.
"Zimmer, he's been great. He's been great this whole season," Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor said. "We're going to miss him. ... We've got Naqin. He's proven. We've got Greg Allen. He can play good defense and he can hit. We've seen it in the past couple games. We've got Almonte. We've got Guyer. We've got Jackson. We have a lot of guys. We have a lot of guys and I think we'll be fine."