ST. PETERSBURG -- Tyler Naquin set off on a dead sprint to the warning track in left field at Tropicana Field on Friday night. All eyes were on him as he planted, pushed off and crashed into the half-wall to snag a deep fly ball and rob Joey Wendle of an RBI and extra bases in the fifth inning.
The joy was short-lived when Naquin didn’t get up from the track to celebrate. The Indians later said their left fielder had sustained a right knee sprain during the team’s 4-0 loss to the Rays, but replays of the injury made it look more serious.
“I think it’s a little premature to, you know, play doctor,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Obviously it didn’t look good, and we’re very concerned, but we’ll wait ’til we get the [test] results.”
Naquin was scheduled for an MRI late Friday to determine the extent of the damage. Francona said the team would understandably wait to announce any corresponding moves until it knows more.
Naquin is hitting .288 this season with 34 RBIs and 10 home runs. While Jordan Luplow, who’s at Triple-A rehabbing a right hamstring strain, played for Columbus on Thursday and could be a candidate to fill Naquin’s spot in a pinch, Naquin’s immediate loss is a big blow to an outfield and lineup that’s in the middle of a late-season playoff push.
“We were happy at the beginning because it was a great catch, but when we saw that he was on the [ground], it looked really painful,” Franmil Reyes said. “I hope everything goes well because we really need Naquin right now.”
Naquin’s highlight-reel snag ended the frame and preserved the scoreless tie to end the fifth inning, but it also left Naquin writhing on the ground in pain. Trainer after trainer jogged out to check on the 28-year-old, who remained on the ground as a medical cart was driven in from the center-field gates to help move him.
He was helped up into the passenger’s seat as fans around him applauded.
The cart drove along the stands and behind home plate, where Naquin tried to put weight on his right leg and stand up, but he couldn’t. He was eventually helped off the field by two team officials.
“It [stunk],” said Friday’s starting pitcher, Shane Bieber. “We’re just thinking about him and hoping we can get him back as soon as possible.”