HOUSTON -- When Mike Clevinger was taken out of his April 7 start due to tightness in his back, he was sure that he would make his next start. But the following day, an MRI revealed an upper back strain that Indians manager Terry Francona said would cause Clevinger to
HOUSTON -- When Mike Clevinger was taken out of his April 7 start due to tightness in his back, he was sure that he would make his next start. But the following day, an MRI revealed an upper back strain that Indians manager Terry Francona said would cause Clevinger to not look at a baseball for 6-8 weeks.
It looks like Clevinger may be ahead of schedule.
The 28-year-old joined his team on their six-game road trip that began Thursday in Houston and was seen in the outfield prior to Friday’s game at Minute Maid Park, shagging fly balls during batting practice. As he’s continued to feel well during these last few weeks, he may be inching closer to begin playing catch in the near future.
“The reason he’s on this trip is because he’s doing so well,” Francona said. “At some point here, they’re probably going to let him start playing catch. I don’t know that they have a day yet in mind, but I don’t think it’s too far off.”
Francona said that there is a possibility he will play catch before the end of the team’s road trip that wraps up in Miami on Wednesday, but nothing is set in stone.
“I don’t know. Nobody knows,” Francona said. “They’ve got to get the OK from the doctors and all. But he’s doing pretty well.”
Last weekend, Francona said that Clevinger would get another MRI to see how he’s progressed in the last three weeks and the manager said that he already went through the testing. Now, they just have to wait to hear from the doctors to determine the next step. In the meantime, the right-hander is back in the clubhouse with his teammates after he missed the team’s last nine-game road trip.
“I think being around the team’s been good for him,” Francona said. “I think he actually really missed being around the guys, and just being in uniform during the game has been really good for him. He just seems so much more upbeat when he’s around the guys. And I think the way he’s healing is giving him a lot of encouragement. This isn’t gonna be all year.”
Lindor held out of starting lineup
After losing Francisco Lindor for Spring Training and through the first few weeks of the season, it’s easy for Indians fans to worry when they see that the shortstop isn’t in the lineup. Saturday marked the first time since he’s been activated off the injured list (left ankle sprain) last weekend that his name wasn’t penciled into the starting lineup. Francona said he’s obeying orders from the training staff to work in off days for Lindor, despite how much he may fight to be playing.
“That’s funny because Millsie [bench coach Brad Mills] goes around and tells the guys and [general manager Mike Chernoff] was sitting here and I said, “I give Frankie two minutes, he’ll be in here,’” Francona said. “It was about a minute and a half. But I told him, ‘Frankie, we talked about this last week. We’ve got to live up to it.’
“I was dying because he’s trying to find his timing, and then you know he hits one [home run] to right, one to left [on Friday] and I’m like, [shoot]. But I’ve got to live up to my word. I mean, I told the trainers that we’d do this and if he went out and got hurt, man, I’d feel [bad].”
Lindor pinch-hit in the seventh inning of Saturday's 4-3 loss to the Astros and drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.
Zimmer back in the cage
Outfielder Bradley Zimmer is back in the batting cages after experiencing a bit of a setback when he strained a muscle in his side on March 23. He’s been recovering from right shoulder surgery since July.
This date in Indians history
April 27, 2007: The Indians scored five runs in the sixth inning, capped by Grady Sizemore’s inside-the-park home run, in a 5-4 win over Baltimore.
Mandy Bell covers the Indians for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MandyBell02.