Francona cautious with Gomes behind plate
CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona fought the temptation to write Yan Gomes' name in the starting lineup on Monday, giving the catcher an extra day to rest the stiff neck that has been bothering him for much of the past week.
Even with the Tigers in town, Francona wanted to play it smart with Gomes.
"I know who we're playing and I know how important every game is," Francona said. "But, I think I need to use common sense. Sometimes, it's hard, especially when you're playing a team like Detroit, but it's still the right thing to do."
On Saturday, Francona waited for Gomes to run through an assortment of pregame activities before deciding to give the catcher the start with Corey Kluber on the mound. After the game, Gomes continued to experience stiffness in his neck, leading Francona to feel like he made a mistake by playing Gomes against the Rays that night.
Francona does not want to make the same misstep twice.
"Yan's feeling a lot better," Francona said. "But, I probably messed up a little bit. He was feeling good the other night when he caught Klubes, and I probably should've stepped in and not let him catch that day. He felt it probably more after he had caught that night.
"He came in [Monday] feeling pretty good, but I just want to give him a chance to, when he does catch, to not have to fight this for the next month, when he doesn't need to."
With Gomes out of the lineup, catcher Roberto Perez is filling in as the starter.
Francona added that Gomes checked out fine structurally, so the issue is a "good old-fashioned stiff neck," which flared during Wednesday's 17-0 loss to the Cubs. The manager noted that Gomes took a foul tip off the mask that night and then did some extra hitting in the batting cages after being pulled in the sixth inning.
"I'm guessing that probably didn't help," Francona said.
Through 25 games this season, Gomes has hit .204 with two home runs and six RBIs, following an early-season stint on the disabled list due to a right knee injury. Francona said he is hopeful that the catcher will be able to return to the lineup at some point during this three-game set against the Tigers.
First-round Draft pick Brady Aiken officially signed on Friday, but the details of his signing bonus were not revealed until Monday. MLB.com's Jim Callis reported that the left-hander's bonus is worth $2,513,280, which is slightly higher than the 17th pick's slot value ($2,393,600). The club did not confirm the deal. The 18-year-old Aiken is currently at Cleveland's training complex in Goodyear, Ariz., rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.