Tribe not considering moving Ramirez to 2B

Francona: 'We've talked about everything,' but injury risk, bench considerations hold sway

August 26th, 2018

KANSAS CITY -- It is easy to look at the makeup of the Indians' roster, examine the production around the diamond and identify ways to possibly make the offense better. One such concept would be to move All-Star third baseman to second base, which is his self-proclaimed natural position.

One year ago, when second baseman was out with injury down the stretch, Ramirez moved to second, handled a bulk of the playing time at third and the Indians went on an incredible run that included a 22-game winning streak. Diaz is currently searching for playing time and Kipnis has been struggling at the plate, but manager Terry Francona is not considering a similar switch for his infield.

"We've talked about everything, as we're supposed to," Francona said prior to Sunday's 12-5 win over the Royals. "I know it sounds good on paper and it even sounds good to me on paper. There's other things you have to think about other than just numbers. So, that's probably why he's stayed where he is."

The topic came up again on Sunday morning due to the latest offensive drought for Kipnis, who felt he took a step forward on Sunday. In the victory, the second baseman had four hits, including an inside-the-park home run. That encouraging showing came after Kipnis had gone 2-for-31 over the previous 10 games.

Over a 40-game stretch from May 26-July 20, Kipnis looked to have turned a corner, posting a .283/.370/.517 slash line in 165 plate appearances. Entering Sunday, the second baseman's last 31 games included a .190/.280/.267 showing in 118 plate appearances. Overall, Kipnis has hit .223 with 12 homers and 53 RBIs through 120 games for the Tribe.

"He hasn't been able to hold it," Francona said. "He'll show up and he'll go, 'Man, my hands. I think my hands are feeling better.' And then the next day he loses it again. He just can't hold it. I know he's frustrated, but I think it's mostly the feeling of his hands at the plate, is what I hear him say the most."

Kipnis said he felt he identified a fix along those lines on Saturday night and the adjustment paid off immediately in the form of Sunday's breakout performance.

"I had a good night of film watching," Kipnis said. "I kind of watched a lot of 2016 and just where my hands were and try to get that feeling back. I was in my bedroom with a magazine rolled up as a bat like [Roger] Maris in '61 or something like that. But I was excited coming in today, because I thought I found something."

Francona was asked if he has considered starting infielder more at second base, but the manager said that would remove the versatile utility option from the bench.

"Kip can't play short," Francona said. "You know what I'm saying? It's more than just one guy for one guy."


Francona also listed a few reasons for not wanting to move Ramirez to second base. First and foremost, Ramirez has not worked out at second at all this season, creating the possibility of a heightened injury risk for a late-season move to the middle infield. Beyond that, Francona wants to respect the fact that Ramirez is in the midst of an American League MVP Award-caliber campaign as a third baseman.

"I think there's a worry of moving Josey," Francona said. "[What] if somebody slid into second and screwed up Josey's leg, because he hadn't been over there? Those are things we have to think about. ... He's one of the best players in the game, and if something ever went wrong, if something ever happened, we'd be kicking ourselves."

Worth noting

• Right-hander , who is on the 60-day disabled list and making his way back from Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow, logged one inning in a rehab outing for the Arizona League Indians on Saturday. Anderson, 27, struck out two, walked one and gave up one hit in his first game action since surgery (March 2017).

"No red flags or anything," Francona said. "The last thing we want to do is be like calling Cody like, 'Hey, how'd you do?' We want to let him rehab. ... There's a difference in showing interest and making a guy antsy, especially Cody. We've all seen, he'll go 100 in a 50-mph zone, so we need to let him do his thing."

• Outfielder 's Players' Weekend nickname, La Pinata, stems from his knack for being hit by the pitch. Over the past few days, he has worn a wrap around his left foot due to being hit on the top of the foot by an offering from Boston's on Thursday in Boston. Guyer was feeling better on Sunday and was available off the bench for the Tribe.

• Righty (10-day DL, stress fracture in right fibula) stayed back in Cleveland during the team's road trip, and Francona said, "My guess is he's throwing a ton and that's OK with me." The manager said the team will provide an update on Bauer's progress during the upcoming homestand.