Naquin's season over with torn right ACL

August 31st, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Indians on Saturday placed on the 10-day injured list with a torn ACL in his right knee, the result of the outfielder crashing into the left-field wall to make a spectacular catch in the fifth inning of Friday’s 4-0 loss to the Rays.

An MRI on Friday night confirmed the tear. Naquin is scheduled for a follow-up with team doctors on Monday to confirm a plan of action and surgical intervention. The 28-year-old is out for the remainder of the season, and a more specific timetable for his return will be assessed after surgery.

“I woke up in the middle of the night, and I felt bad for Naq, because the kid literally tried to run through the wall to save the game,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “And that’s how he’s played for us.

“He tries his [rear end] off to try and be as good a player and a teammate as he can be, and it … just felt like he got kicked in the stomach.”

In a corresponding move, Cleveland recalled first baseman/outfielder from Triple-A Columbus.

Naquin hit .288 this season with 34 RBIs and 10 home runs. His loss is a big blow to an outfield and a lineup that’s in the middle of a late-season playoff push. The Indians entered play Saturday with a one-game lead over the A's for the first American League Wild Card spot and trailing the AL Central-leading Twins by 4 1/2 games.

Naquin’s highlight-reel snag preserved a scoreless tie to end the fifth inning, but it also left him writhing on the ground in pain. Several trainers and officials jogged out to check on Naquin, who remained on the ground as a medical cart was driven in from the center-field gates to help move him.

Naquin was helped up into the passenger’s seat as fans around him applauded. Francona offered his left fielder a pat on the shoulder as the cart passed.

The cart drove along the stands and behind home plate, where Naquin tried to put weight on his right leg and stand, but he couldn’t. He was eventually helped off the field by two team officials.

Bauers, 23, hit .233 for Cleveland this season and played 44 games in left field, 34 at designated hitter and 24 at first base before he was optioned to Triple-A on Aug. 1. He hit .247 with 15 RBIs, seven doubles and 14 walks in 24 games with the Clippers.

The 23-year-old acknowledged the reason for the callup was less than ideal, but he has been toiling hard in the Minors to be ready for the promotion.

“[This year] has been a little bit of an adjustment period, a little bit of still trying to find myself,” he said. “I think this last little stint in Triple-A was good, just to take a step back, play a little bit more free, remember what it’s like to play with no big league pressure.

“I think the sooner you get that figured out, the sooner you can just kind of be yourself.”

Wild thoughts
As the regular season enters its final month, much is still up in the air. The Indians are looking for a hard push in September in hopes of claiming the top Wild Card spot or, better, wresting control of the division back from the Twins in order to avoid an extra game.

With so much that goes into each season and then strategy for the playoffs, Francona said he’d rather expand Wild Card play so that a season doesn’t boil down to one game.

“Everybody’d rather play best-of-five as opposed to best-of-one, because you’d like to stay away from luck as much as you can,” he said. “My first year [with the Indians in 2013] was a good example. We reeled off 10 wins in a row to finish the season. We were on cloud nine; we were rolling. Tampa [Bay] came in, and three hours later, we were packing our bags and going home. It was like, ‘Wait a minute.’

“I’d love to see them change the rule to best out of three. I think it would make for good television. [When] you play 162 games and then you play one, that’s a lot of stress."