With return nearing, Gomes ramps up activity
Indians catcher tests right knee with variety of drills; Minors rehab stint on horizon
CLEVELAND -- Yan Gomes motored around third base and pushed hard toward home in the hours leading up to Tuesday's tilt with the Cardinals at Progressive Field. The sidelined Indians catcher finished the sprint, put his hands on his hips and took a quick break.
Gomes knows that each step he takes puts him one closer to rejoining Cleveland.
"He's really done miraculously well with everything," Indians manager Terry Francona said on Tuesday. "Gomer wants to do whatever he can to get back as quick as he can. That's pretty obvious by his actions and what he's doing."
Tuesday's workout was the most extensive set of drills that Gomes has gone through in a single day since spraining his right knee in a play at the plate on April 10 against the Tigers. The catcher worked through running and agility drills in the outfield, ran the bases, threw to second base out of the crouch and took part in batting practice.
It was the latest workout in an aggressive schedule for Gomes, who has "attacked" his rehab while on the 15-day disabled list during the past month, according to Francona.
If Gomes bounces back well on Wednesday, it is possible that a Minor League rehab assignment could be right around the corner for the 27-year-old catcher. Francona indicated that Gomes could begin his rehab stint as a designated hitter, and he hinted the catcher could see time in that role initially upon being activated.
"I think [general manager Chris Antonetti] and the training staff is on board," Francona said. "As long as he can catch healthy and not worry, he doesn't have to be ready to catch every day, or back-to-back [games] even. Having him every other day is better than not having him. And he understands that, too.
"But we also want to be fair. He's got to be able to make all the plays and be able to react and not worry about having something grab, not doing something too soon."
In 135 games last season, Gomes hit .278 with 21 homers, 25 doubles and 74 RBIs for the Indians, earning his first American League Silver Slugger Award for his work in the batter's box. The catcher appeared in just five games this season before landing on the 15-day DL with the knee injury.
Cleveland's in-state affiliates (Triple-A Columbus, Double-A Akron and Class A Lake County) are on the road this week, but Francona said that does not necessarily mean Gomes will need to wait until next week to resume playing in games.
"I don't want to put a date on it yet, just because that's not fair to him," Francona said. "With the DH thing, it may be sooner [than next week], but a lot of it's going to depend on how he comes through today, because it's a pretty active day. And then, we'll just go from there."