Donaldson's arrival to force defensive shuffle

September 2nd, 2018

CLEVELAND -- The Indians haven't had a great look at newly acquired infielder Josh Donaldson since his arrival at Progressive Field late Saturday.
But team personnel were able to work with the former American League MVP ahead of Sunday's series finale with the Rays, and monitored Donaldson through running, agility and baserunning exercises. He also took batting practice.
Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti saw the aforementioned as a positive sign for Donaldson, who's been out since May with a left calf injury, and said the next step is to develop a plan with team trainers and set a timetable for Donaldson's Indians debut.

"Really excited about the potential impact Josh might have on our team," Antonetti said Sunday. "We went into it knowing that there's a lot of risk, and the fact that he hadn't played for a while. Exactly when he'd be healthy and ready to go and play regularly is still a little uncertain.
"The one thing we're confident about, when Josh is healthy and in a good spot, he's a really productive player on both sides of the ball. We were willing to take the risk. We're going to end up giving up a good player to get him."
After meeting with media for the first time since being acquired Friday from the Blue Jays, the three-time All-Star left little to the imagination when asked if he was feeling 100 percent.
"I feel very good about where I'm at right now," Donaldson said. "I'd rather not talk about it, I'd rather just you be able to see it, and you could judge it yourself."
It's unclear if Donaldson will need a Minor League rehab assignment before joining the Tribe as they pursue their third consecutive AL Central championship.
With a 14-game lead over the second-place Twins, the club won't likely rush Donaldson to the lineup. The seven-year veteran also said he doesn't expect to need much time rehabbing if such a trip is required.

"I'm not really at a position where I need help any more, as far as getting my body back to performing at a high level," Donaldson said. "Now it's just kind of managing the load process, and managing how many games and the schedule of how many games I'm going to play in a row."
Indians manager Terry Francona announced Saturday that Donaldson will become the team's everyday third baseman once fully healthy, forcing potential MVP candidate to shift to second base and to center field.
Given the breakout season Ramirez is having, Francona has repeatedly expressed his reluctance about moving his current third baseman. The same went for Kipnis, an infielder by trade, whose only Major League outfield experience came during an 11-game experiment last season.
Cleveland is well aware of the offensive boost Donaldson, a career .275/.366/.507 hitter, could provide, and Ramirez and Kipnis assured they're OK with moving if it helps the team reach the World Series.
"I think we've talked to everybody that can be affected by this," Francona said Saturday. "I talked to Jose back a little while just because of my feelings on it and some of my concerns, and he assured me that he would willingly do this.
"I talked to Kip, and we knew this would affect Kip more than anybody. I don't think he was jumping for joy, and I don't think we expected him to. … I don't think it's fun to hear that, but Kip's a pretty good competitor, so we'll see how it goes."

Francona said the positional shakeup won't likely happen until Donaldson is playing, as he wants to spare any back-and-forth between spots. In the meantime, Kipnis and Ramirez will start taking reps in practice.
"Kip said, 'I want to be part of a team that wins a World Series. I'll adjust my role to make that fit,'" Antonetti said. "Once we have an idea what Josh's plan will be, that will inform our conversations with Jason and Jose."
In 36 games with Toronto, Donaldson hit .234 with five home runs, 16 RBIs and two stolen bases in what's been his least conventional season to date. But with whatever comes next, Donaldson is ready for it.
"If I was writing a book, it's not how I would've wanted it to go," Donaldson said. "But hopefully it has a happy ending."
Worth noting
• The Indians activated right-hander from the 10-day disabled list. Ramirez had been sidelined with lower back spasms since Aug. 23. In addition to the September callups announced Saturday, the Tribe's roster sits at 30.
• Antonetti also said relief ace has resumed a throwing program, and threw long-toss up to 75 feet on flat ground on Sunday. The left-hander was put on the 10-day DL on Aug. 27 with left shoulder impingement, though he's not expected to miss much more than the minimum time required.