PHOENIX -- Indians outfielder Jordan Luplow is one of the only players who has yet to see time in Cactus League play so far this spring.
On Feb. 24, Luplow was taking live batting practice and rolled his ankle after his spike got stuck in the ground. He went for an MRI the next day and the Indians were optimistic about the results. But over a week later, Luplow received an injection in his ankle that will hopefully allow him to get back on the field sooner.
“I think [Luplow] is a little concerned,” Indians manager Terry Francona said prior to the Tribe’s 5-1 victory over the Brewers on Thursday. “Last year he tried to play through a little bit of a lower-back [injury] and it didn't go real well. He wants to make sure he's ready to go. So we're going to give him a couple days down and then we'll ramp him back up.”
On Wednesday, Luplow was seen by the D-backs’ foot specialist, who administered the injection and confirmed that the injury was nothing more than a routine sprain.
“What they found in there was nothing abnormal for an athlete,” Francona said. “I think you're always going to see a little wear and tear when you look at athletes that play professional sports. But it looked pretty good.”
Flashing some leather
Ben Gamel grew very familiar with American Family Fields of Phoenix the last two years as a member of the Brewers. When he returned to the field he called home the last two springs on Thursday, it didn’t take him long to feel comfortable, as he made an outstanding catch in foul territory in the first inning while flipping over the railing into the Brewers’ bullpen.
Two for Yu
Yu Chang had such a red-hot Summer Camp last July that he forced his way onto the Opening Day roster. This year, he’s once again battling with Mike Freeman to win the utility job. On Thursday, Chang started to show signs of heating up at the plate with two home runs.
“For me, I just keep doing what I'm doing for the entire year,” Chang said, through an interpreter. “Just prepare myself well. Today, I'm just lucky to get the rhythm of the pitcher to hit two home runs today. I'm thankful for all the fans supporting me.”
Ramirez clears intake testing
The Indians claimed former Marlins outfielder Harold Ramirez off waivers on Feb. 24, but because he was at his home in Colombia, it took him a few days to get to Goodyear, Ariz. Once he arrived, he had to go through a couple days of intake testing and was cleared to get back on the field on Thursday.
While he spent most of the 2020 season on the injured list, Ramirez opened the ’19 season hitting .355 for Triple-A New Orleans before batting .276 with a .728 OPS, 20 doubles, three triples, 11 homers and 50 RBIs in 119 games with the Marlins.
“The trainers [and strength staff] are going to run him through some of the strengthening and conditioning and loosening up, see where he's at,” Francona said, “and then we'll decide where to slot him in in the next couple days.”
B-game slated for Saturday
In order for the Indians to see as many of their young players as possible, the team decided it will play a three-inning B-game against the Reds at Cincinnati’s Spring Training complex on Saturday morning. Shane Bieber will get the start (and pitch all three frames) so that No. 26 prospect Scott Moss and other hurlers will be able to pitch in a Cactus League game against the White Sox.
“We're trying to be a little creative with some of these games that are seven innings, with respect to guys competing,” Francona said. “Again, we trust Bieber and he's certainly a priority, but we trust him that his three innings, regardless of where they're pitched, he's going to prepare and be fine. And it allows us to see more guys in real games.”