Notes: J-Ram will 'be fine'; Tito on openers

June 19th, 2021

Manager Terry Francona assured everyone that José Ramírez was going to be OK once it was announced that he was not in Saturday’s starting lineup. The third baseman was deemed day to day with a left foot contusion after being hit by a pitch and removed during the eighth inning of Friday’s series opener in Pittsburgh.

“He woke up and he was a little more sore than maybe he anticipated, [and] maybe we did,” said Francona before Saturday’s contest. “He got hit there right on that arch. I mean, he's doing OK. He's going to be fine.”

Ramírez, Francona and other members of the athletic training staff planned to meet at the ballpark to discuss the perennial All-Star's availability for later in the day.

Yu Chang started at third Saturday for the fourth time this season -- the last instance having come Thursday in a 10-3 win over Baltimore.

Francona on using an opener

“We're balancing so many things right now with the pitching that I would prefer -- I know [pitching coach] Carl [Willis] feels the same way -- let's see how far whoever starts can go, then we'll make the determination when to take them out,” said Francona when asked about the idea of using an opener.

The Indians’ skipper knows that his starting pitching rotation is strained. With Shane Bieber and Zach Plesac on the IL, Aaron Civale fronts the rotation, while bullpen arms are being called upon to start.

Francona isn’t totally against the opener, however, with the success the ‘pen has had of late, he doesn’t want to burn an arm using someone for an inning or two to start a game.

“When you don't know what the score is, that might be a guy that, if you're down six to nothing, you may not want to pitch,” said Francona referencing what could have been the case if he chose to use an opener in Friday’s start, rather than allow J.C. Mejia to pitch through some early trouble. “So I'd prefer to kind of let our guy go as long as we think it makes sense. Then we'll handle the bullpen the rest of the way.”

The club is handling the pitching situation one game at a time; making plans, but also being flexible. Francona noted that even though Sam Hentges is scheduled to start Sunday, he could be available out of the bullpen Saturday if needed.

“I'm not sure we quite know what the right thing to do is,” said Francona. “Maybe [that] is the answer. The other thing is, tomorrow is a whole 24 hours away. So let's just handle today. It's going to be tough enough.”