Struggling Ramirez on bench, Aviles at short
Manager Francona doesn't say if lineup change will be full-time
CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona would not go as far as naming Mike Aviles his new starting shortstop on Friday, but it is clear that Cleveland is trying to shore things up at the position as it attempts to climb up the division standings.
Struggling shortstop Jose Ramirez was out of the starting lineup for Friday's game against the Orioles, marking the first time this season that the young middle infielder was on the bench for a third consecutive game. As a result, Francona gave the nod to the more veteran Aviles once again as Cleveland's starter at short.
Francona would not say whether this was going to be a full-time change to the everyday lineup.
"I honestly don't know," Francona said. "I don't think I need to make a lineup out for next week. I'm trying to balance winning a ballgame and a younger kid that's struggling a little bit. Things change. A kid gets hot. I thought he was starting to do that maybe about 10 days ago. I think we've said all along, even all the way back at Spring Training, that we'd split the time between Aviles and Jose.
"Mikey's done a pretty good job. And the one thing that I have to remember is, when Mikey plays short a lot, that hurts our bench. And I think Mikey understands that, too, even though I know he wants to play every single day. I think he understands that his job isn't just to play short, but it's to make our bench better and move around. So, I'm trying to balance that."
Through 44 games played this season, the 22-year-old Ramirez had a .184/.252/.245 slash line. Entering Friday, the young switch-hitter was batting at a .125 (4-for-32) clip in his past 11 games, following a 10-game stretch in which he hit .265 with a .381 on-base percentage.
The 34-year-old Aviles had a .274/.333/.421 slash line through 33 games this year.
With Ramirez's offensive issues lingering into June, there continues to be a public outcry for the Indians to promote their top-rated prospect, shortstop Francisco Lindor, from Triple-A Columbus. Through 50 games for the Clippers, Lindor was batting .260/.338/.370 with 14 extra-base hits, 21 RBIs, 21 runs and eight stolen bases.
"Lindor is not ready. He's really not," Francona told reporters in Kansas City on Thursday. "You just try to do the best you can."