Francona sees Ramirez as everyday player
With infield full, Indians manager tries young switch-hitter in left field
BOSTON -- Indians manager Terry Francona is not ready to label Jose Ramirez a super-utility player. Francona still believes the Tribe's former starting shortstop has the ability to be an everyday player in the Major Leagues, even if that window of opportunity seems to be closing on him in Cleveland.
"I think that might be selling him a little short," Francona said of calling Ramirez a utility man. "I mean, I get it, you can have a great career [that way], but I still think he's an everyday player."
With All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis back in the lineup after a stint on the disabled list and standout rookie Francisco Lindor entrenched as the new starter at short, Ramirez's infield positions are taken at the moment. On Wednesday, Francona saw a chance to take a look at Ramirez as an outfielder, because left fielder Michael Brantley's left shoulder issue continued to limit him to designated-hitter duties.
For the first time in his Major League career, the 22-year-old Ramirez started a game in the outfield, taking Brantley's place in left field at Fenway Park for the finale of the three-game series against the Red Sox. Ramirez played four games in the outfield (three in center and one in left) at Triple-A Columbus this year, so he already has been given a taste of life beyond the infield dirt.
Francona said he may look for opportunities to test Ramirez in the outfield even after Brantley is deemed healthy enough to return to his normal position.
"We'll see," Francona said. "We'll see how [Ramirez] does, and we've got to see how we're doing. You always want to win every game. I don't think that's ever going to go away, but I think these are some of the types of things we'd like to do. And I wouldn't put him out there if I didn't think he was going to be fine."
Cleveland has a super-utility man in veteran Mike Aviles, who can play second base, shortstop and third base, along with all three outfield spots. With Aviles eligible for free agency this coming winter, it's possible that Ramirez could fill a similar role for the Indians next year.
"That's a valuable [player]," Francona said. "[He's] a switch-hitter that can run, that can potentially play second, third, short, and probably left, right and center at some point. That's very valuable."
• Pitching coach Mickey Callaway met with pitcher Trevor Bauer on Wednesday to continue to go over the right-hander's recent struggles (7.05 ERA in seven second-half starts). Francona and Callaway have cited predictability in Bauer's pitch sequences, along with poor command in spots, as two issues behind the starter's issues of late.
"He's a stubborn kid; we know that," Francona said. "Sometimes, that's part of what makes you good. But, he has some ideas about pitching that, it's evolving. To his credit, he came in stubborn. That's not necessarily the worst thing in the world, and he's made a lot of adjustments. Some of them, he's a little slower to [accept], and I think sometimes he pays the price. ... That doesn't make him a bad kid. He's just still learning."
• Right-hander Gavin Floyd was scheduled to make his first Minor League rehab outing of the season on Wednesday with the Arizona League (Rookie level) Indians. Floyd, who was signed to a one-year contract last winter, fractured his right elbow during Spring Training.
"That's kind of incredible," Francona said. "This kid, for the last four months, has just been quietly working every day. The fact that he's pitching is pretty cool."
• Righty Cody Anderson (15-day DL due to a left oblique strain) was "doing really well" following a bullpen session on Tuesday, according to Francona. The manager said the team is still weighing whether Anderson will need a Minor League rehab stint before returning.