CLEVELAND -- At this time last year, the Indians were in a close Wild Card race without their hot-hitting third baseman, as José Ramírez fractured his right hamate bone at the end of August and was unable to return to the team until the final week of the regular season.
CLEVELAND -- At this time last year, the Indians were in a close Wild Card race without their hot-hitting third baseman, as José Ramírez fractured his right hamate bone at the end of August and was unable to return to the team until the final week of the regular season. Now, they’re hoping that they can avoid a similar situation in 2020.
Ramírez was pulled from Monday’s victory over the Royals with left thumb discomfort. He underwent an MRI on Tuesday, which revealed only bruising in his left hand. Though the Tribe kept him out of the lineup for the second game against Kansas City, the team seemed optimistic that he wouldn’t miss significant time.
“Ramírez is doing OK,” Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said. “He's just day to day at this point. He's obviously not in the lineup tonight, but we'll reassess things tomorrow.”
Antonetti specified that Ramírez’s current injury is more muscle-related. The third baseman has been dealing with discomfort in his left thumb over the past month, but he has insisted that he remain in the lineup every day. Indians temporary manager Sandy Alomar Jr. stated many times that a Ramírez at 50 percent is still a productive force in their lineup. But on Monday, the pain may have become too much.
“It’s just a nagging thing that’s going over and over,” Alomar said after Monday’s game. “I think it’s kind of wearing him out mentally, in my opinion. [On Monday], he felt it again, and we made the decision to pull him out of the game just to give him a chance to recuperate.”
Assuming this only a one- or two-day problem like the team expects, the Indians will use Mike Freeman at third. Should it continue for a more extended period of time, the club has options in Yu Chang and Nolan Jones at the alternate training site in Lake County, Ohio.
Tito continues to progress
Though there’s still no timetable for the Tribe’s skipper’s return, Terry Francona has continued to show signs of progression over the past few days after getting a stent inserted to help his blood flow while also dealing with a gastrointestinal condition.
“He's been able to move around more, get out of his apartment, exercise a bit,” Antonetti said. “He's continuing his recovery and building up his strength. He's been around the ballpark a little bit earlier in the day just to do some of his rehab and build back up his strength. He's on a good path forward.”
Not only was Francona able to use the ballpark's training facilities over the past few days, but he was also in attendance at Progressive Field up until the fifth inning of the Indians' 8-6 loss on Tuesday.
All eyes on the standings
With 18 games remaining in the regular season and nearly a three-way tie at the top of the American League Central -- the Indians and White Sox own a half-game lead on the Twins entering Wednesday -- it’s hard for the Tribe not to check the standings each night.
The Indians have a three-game series in Minnesota over the weekend, and they still have four more matchups against the White Sox before the season comes to an end on Sept. 27. They expect a heated race until they reach the finish line.
“The last week, for me, when we haven’t had emerging crises every day, has allowed me to get back to the more normal routines of a typical season, and that involves scoreboard watching,” Antonetti said. “We’re all hyper-competitive. We do this because we want to win games and win a World Series. So naturally, we pay attention to the standings this time of year and for the last week or so, that’s been no different.”
Mandy Bell covers the Indians for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MandyBell02.