OAKLAND -- The lineup that was posted inside the visitors' clubhouse at the Coliseum on Friday was not a one-game experiment. The Indians have entered the second half without two of their key components, causing a ripple effect that will impact the order for the next few weeks.With second baseman
OAKLAND -- The lineup that was posted inside the visitors' clubhouse at the Coliseum on Friday was not a one-game experiment. The Indians have entered the second half without two of their key components, causing a ripple effect that will impact the order for the next few weeks.
With second baseman Jason Kipnis and outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall on the disabled list, Cleveland has rolled out a new look due to necessity. On Friday night, A's right-hander Sonny Gray made easy work of the Tribe's offense, setting the tone with six strong innings to send the Indians to a 5-0 loss to open a six-game swing through Oakland and San Francisco.
"Those are two guys that are big contributors to our lineup and our team," Indians rookie center fielder Bradley Zimmer said. "So, not having them here definitely is tough, but we have a lot of other guys in here that can help us out and help us win. We're going to pick them up for now and, when they come back and they're ready, we'll be just fine."
There is no firm timetable for the return of either Kipnis (strained right hamstring) or Chisenhall.(strained right calf), who remain back in Cleveland in the early stages of their rehab programs. All Indians manager Terry Francona said before Friday's game is that "it's going to be weeks" for both players, meaning Erik Gonzalez and Tyler Naquin will be thrust into regular duty.
Gonzalez, who has been filling a utility role, now assumes the everyday duties at second base with Kipnis out. After being summoned from Triple-A Columbus prior to Friday's game, Naquin got the nod in right field, which he will share with Brandon Guyer and Abraham Almonte. Naquin hit eighth and Gonzalez ninth, but the recent injuries also affected the top of the order.
With Kipnis sidelined, and Francona preferring to keep Jose Ramirez behind cleanup hitter Edwin Encarnacion to serve as a protection hitter, Zimmer has been moved to the leadoff spot. By doing that, Francona can keep Francisco Lindor and Michael Brantley batting second and third, respectively.
"I'm OK with him hitting first," Francona said of Zimmer. "I wouldn't put him there if I wasn't. With his speed and his ability to work counts, I think it will be good for him. That doesn't mean we have to do it every game, but I think it's good for his development."
Zimmer said he looked forward to the opportunity, too.
"Whatever I can do to help," Zimmer said.
The adjusted roster features a four-man bench for the time being. If Gonzalez and Naquin are in the starting lineup like they were on Friday, for instance, Francona has Guyer, Almonte (switch-hitter), Giovanny Urshela and catcher Roberto Perez available for in-game maneuvering. If Guyer starts, Naquin gives Cleveland a lefty bat off the bench.
"The way we're situated right now," Francona explained, "we're going to have a left-handed [hitter] or a switch-hitter on the bench most of the time. So, if we want to pinch-hit, we can put Gio at third and Rammer at second. We have some ways we can use our roster. I think it will end up being good for us."
It was just unfortunate for the Tribe that Gray was on top of his game on Friday.
"He was good tonight -- no doubt," Zimmer said. "He got a lot of us to kind of get off-balance. He was just commanding, and commanding his changeup well and keeping the ball down. That happens."
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 Facebook.