Posted on July 9, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
On the eve of the all-star break, the Cleveland Indians have lost one of their core players. The Indians placed second baseman Jason Kipnis on the 10-day DL prior to Sunday’s game against the Detroit Tigers, the final game of the first half. Kipnis left Saturday’s game against the Tigers after straining his hamstring trying to leg out an infield single.
The Indians are optimistic that the injury to Kipnis isn’t too serious. However, placing him on the DL Sunday contradicts that. After Sunday’s game, the Indians don’t play again until Friday. If they believed the injury was minor, the Indians could have waited until later in the week to place Kipnis on the DL, seeing if he improved. Instead, they decided to put him on the DL right away.
“How long is it going to be? Well, at least 10 days,” said acting Indians manager Brad Mills, who is filling in for Terry Francona, who is recovering from a heart procedure. “We’ll see. It’ll probably, maybe a little worse than a mild hamstring, but sometimes those take a little time, longer than the 10 days if necessary. We’ll see how it progresses and so forth as we move forward.”
Kipnis was a valuable part of Cleveland’s run to the World Series last year. But he’s been held back by injuries this season. Kipnis missed the first few weeks of the season with shoulder and neck problems. He was only starting to get going offensively after getting off to a sluggish start when he came back from the DL in late April.
“It’s really tough because we’re in a situation where he was really starting to swing the bat well,” Mills said. “Now, he was able to start swinging the bat, feeling good about himself and running well and getting the extra base hits, and then this happens. We’re really looking forward to an opportunity for him to continue working hard through this period, that he’s able to come back and be ready as soon as possible.”
On the season, Kipnis is hitting just .232 with an OPS of .693. He finished last season hitting .275 with an OPS of .811, so there has been a noticeable drop-off.
The Indians have called up Giovanny Urshela to take the place of Kipnis on the active roster. However, it will likely be Erik Gonzalez who gets most of the playing time at second base while Kipnis is out. Gonzalez is hitting .313 this season but has just 48 at-bats on the season. The Indians also have the option of moving Jose Ramirez to second base and playing Urshela at third base. Of course, Urshela, who’s a natural third baseman, was posting modest numbers at triple-A and hit just .225 in 81 games with Cleveland last year.
The upcoming all-star break will help to minimize how much time Kipnis misses because of the injury. However, infield depth is something the Indians don’t have, and so they will certainly miss Kipnis while he’s out. It’s likely that Kipnis won’t be out for an extended period of time. But considering Kipnis’ injury issues this year and Cleveland’s lack of infield depth, the Indians may need to look into acquiring some bench help before the trade deadline.