Ailing Kipnis won't play again this season
CLEVELAND -- Jason Kipnis did what he could to keep himself in the starting lineup over the past week, serving as a designated hitter at times while battling a right hamstring injury. The Indians have decided it makes more sense to have the second baseman sit for the final two games of the season.
On Saturday, manager Terry Francona said he will stay away from using Kipnis for the Tribe's last two games against Tampa Bay, especially considering the Indians were knocked out of postseason contention on Friday.
"He pushed really hard, which we really appreciated," Francona said prior to Saturday's game against the Rays. "I think he'll just spend some time with the trainers and get headed in the right direction."
In 129 games for the Indians this season, Kipnis turned in a .240/.310/.330 slash line with six home runs, 25 doubles, 22 stolen bases, 41 RBIs and 61 runs scored. It was a disappointing season overall for the second baseman, who penned his name on a six-year contract extension worth $52.5 million in April.
Kipnis' season was hindered by the fact that he suffered an oblique injury at the end of April and missed a month while recovering. Following his return, Kipnis fought the issue off and on throughout the remainder of the season. Kipnis had no home runs and five RBIs in 48 games between August and September, hitting .194 in the final month of the season.
It was a drastic contrast to 2013, when Kipnis made his first All-Star team and ended with a .284/.366/.452 slash line in 149 games. The second baseman had 17 home runs, 36 doubles, 30 stolen bases, 84 RBIs and 86 runs scored in that breakout campaign.
"This is probably the first year he's ever really struggled," Francona said. "I don't think he liked it very much. I'd bet you he comes back with a vengeance, because there's so much trust in him not just as a hitter or baserunner, but as a player that competes. I think he'll come back with a vengeance. I think that bodes well for us."
Quote to note
"Enough stuff went wrong this year where winning was a challenge probably more often than we wanted. Because of our guys' commitment to just grinding, we hung in there. That's not our goal, but as a coaching staff, we respect that in our players a lot. We appreciate it."
--Francona on his team's season
• Over his final five starts of the season, Indians starter Corey Kluber went 5-0 with a 1.12 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 40 1/3 innings. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Kluber is one of four pitchers in the Modern Era (since 1900) to win each of his final five appearances while having at least 50 strikeouts. The last to achieve the feat was Randy Johnson in the 1998 season. Nolan Ryan (1973) and Herb Score (1956) also accomplished the rare feat.
• After officially being eliminated from the postseason picture on Friday night, the Indians made a change to their rotation for the final game of the year. Lefty T.J. House is now scheduled to start against the Rays on Sunday. The team decided that righty Danny Salazar (originally slated to start) had logged enough innings this season.
• All-Star outfelder Michael Brantley collected his 200th hit of the season Saturday, making Cleveland the first Major League team to have a batter with at least 200 hits and a pitcher with at least 250 strikeouts since 1999 (D-backs). The Indians had never accomplished the feat.