Kipnis, dealing with sore shoulder, back at DH
OAKLAND -- For the third time in the past five games, Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis was slotted into the lineup as the designated hitter in the Indians' 5-1 loss on Friday. Manager Terry Francona noted that Kipnis, who went 0-for-4, has recently dealt with soreness in his right shoulder.
Francona was quick to add that the issue was not serious.
"His throwing shoulder is just a little bit sore," Francona said. "I don't think it's anything we need to worry about, but I just would rather stay out ahead of it. It doesn't hurt him one lick hitting, so I'll just let him DH another night. I don't think that'll hurt him."
Francona said the only drawback was that utility man Jerry Sands wound up on the bench for another game. The Indians want to take a look at Sands, who was called up from Triple-A Columbus on Friday. Besides DH, Sands plays right field and first base, but those spots were occupied by Lonnie Chisenhall and Carlos Santana, respectively, for Saturday's game. Giovanny Urshela got the start at second base.
Francona was hopeful that Kipnis would return to second base on Sunday.
"Hopefully he'll bounce back tomorrow and be OK," Francona said. "It just kind of crept back up, so I just want to make sure we stay ahead of it."
• Veteran outfielder Nick Swisher, on the 15-day disabled list due to knee issues, has been rehabbing with Low Class A Lake County and is set to move up to Triple-A Columbus on Tuesday. The Indians hope Swisher can play right field, and not only serve as a DH, when he returns.
"That's what our whole goal was for this," Francona said. "We want him to be a baseball player. That was part of the reason of why we tried to not take the shortcut on this. He hasn't really been hitting that much, so he hasn't been pushed on the bases, but he's kind of answered everything that's been thrown at him."
• Heading into Saturday's action, the Indians had minus-four Defense Runs Saved this season. That is a drastic improvement over last year, when Cleveland was last in the Majors with minus-75 DRS. The Tribe's defense has also received a lift since shortstop Francisco Lindor (two DRS) and third baseman Giovanny Urshela (one DRS) were called up from Triple-A in June.
"That needs to stay, or get better," Francona said of the improved defense. "It's just so hard to win the other way. I've said it a lot, it's not that you cant win, but, man, it's harder. ... It's something we really have been aware of and we're trying to continue to make it better."
• Left-hander TJ House remains on the Minor League disabled list due to a left shoulder issue and is back in Arizona rehabbing his arm at Cleveland's complex.
• The Indians are hopeful outfielder Tyler Naquin (Minor League DL due to concussion symptoms) will be able to be activated when he's eligible to come off the DL.
• Recently acquired outfielder Abraham Almonte is scheduled to report to Triple-A Columbus on Monday. The switch-hitting outfielder came to Cleveland from the Padres in the Friday trade that shipped lefty Marc Rzepczynski to San Diego.