Posted on August 25, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Cleveland Indians have overcome a lot of injuries this season, and with September around the corner, they’ve been hit with one more. Third baseman Jose Ramirez was placed on the 10-day Injured List Sunday because of a broken hamate bone in his right hand. The club isn’t sure of the exact timeline just yet. But it’s possible that Ramirez has played his last game in 2019.
Ramirez was in immediate pain after hitting a foul tip during Saturday’s win over the Royals. He was removed from the game right away and walked off the field grimacing. Ramirez will have surgery on Monday. Afterward, the Indians are hoping to have a better idea of how much time Ramirez will miss.
“I’m not sure anybody’s ever going to be able to nail it exactly,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “But we will have a much better idea after he does the procedure.”
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The recovery timeline for broken hamate bones can vary from player to player. In recent years, some big leaguers have missed as little as three weeks before returning. However, other players have missed three months or more. Even if Ramirez is one of the lucky ones, he won’t be back until the second half of September. Cleveland also needs to recognize the possibility that he won’t return at all this year, even if they’re able to make a deep run in the playoffs.
The 26-year-old Ramirez has been having a down season but remains an important part of the Cleveland lineup. On the season, he’s hitting .254 with 20 home runs, helping give him an OPS of .788.
The Indians will use a combination of utility man Mike Freeman and shortstop prospect Yu Chang to replace Ramirez at third base. Freeman bats left-handed and has been productive in a part-time role this year while Chang hits right-handed and had just four major league at-bats before being recalled on Sunday. He had been hitting .253 with an OPS of .748 at triple-A. Francona says several factors will determine playing time at third base down the stretch.
“It’s not going to be a straight platoon,” Francona explained. “I don’t think that makes sense. Plus, we’ve moved Freeman around anyway, and Chang’s been moving around at Triple-A. … We have the ability to move guys around. We’ll let them know the night before, and we’ll try to put two guys out there to try to take Josey’s place. Freeman’s done everything and more that we could have asked. So, I think we’ll be okay.”
The Indians entered Sunday 2.5 games behind the Twins in the AL Central and leading the American League Wild Card standings. On the surface, that puts them in good shape with five weeks left in the season. However, they’ve already a series of injuries to their starting rotation. The Tribe now has to overcome the loss of one of their best hitters. But no matter what happens, Francona says the team will press on in search of their fourth straight playoff birth.
“There’s two ways to look at it: You can feel sorry for yourself, which probably doesn’t end well,” Francona said. “Or you can choose to fight back and feel like this is our time to shine. And I would choose No. 2. I’m aware that it got more difficult. We lost a great player. That doesn’t mean you can’t win. Just makes it a little harder.”