CLEVELAND -- The Indians would not have activated Jason Kipnis from the disabled list if he was not ready. The challenge for manager Terry Francona now is to balance having his second baseman back and taking steps to avoid running him into the ground.An example came in Chicago on Sunday,
CLEVELAND -- The Indians would not have activated Jason Kipnis from the disabled list if he was not ready. The challenge for manager Terry Francona now is to balance having his second baseman back and taking steps to avoid running him into the ground.
An example came in Chicago on Sunday, when Kipnis was out of the starting lineup after playing in consecutive games following time on the DL with a right shoulder issue. Francona plans on looking for spots early on to give Kipnis rest, as the second baseman builds up the physical endurance required for a long season.
"I just think it's more maybe common sense than anything else," Francona said prior to Tuesday's series opener against the Astros. "He feels really good. The idea is to keep him feeling really good while he builds up his endurance to games and things like that. And then once guys get into that feeling, sometimes you think you're doing them a favor by giving them a day off and you're really not.
"That's where the communication comes in and he's been really good with me and the trainers. We're not going to rest him unless we think it's in his best interest, because he's a good player. But we can't be afraid to do that, either."
Kipnis, who injured his shoulder early in Spring Training, only appeared in two Cactus League games (March 9-10) as a designated hitter in the exhibition season, and he did not play full games. Kipnis played a series of back-to-back games between April 9-19 between rehab stints with Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus, but he did not log consecutive nine-inning games until April 18-19.
During the Indians' road series against the White Sox, Kipnis played a full game on Friday and then appeared in eight innings on Saturday. In the finale on Sunday, the second baseman made a pinch-hit appearance in the ninth inning.
That approach to Kipnis' first series is similar to how Francona has handled the playing time for left fielder Michael Brantley, who missed all but 11 games last year due to right shoulder issues. Throughout April, the manager has picked spots to give Brantley a day off, and the outfielder has responded well to that approach.
"He's responding really well, because he's worked hard," Francona said of Brantley. "He's in great shape, and he's done a terrific job. I don't think it's the way we've done it. I think we've just tried to use some common sense with him, and I think he deserves a ton of credit for putting himself in a position where he can play as much as he is."
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.