If Jason Kipnis’ ability to joke about his low batting average was any indication after the Indians 6-4 loss to the host Angels late Tuesday night, perhaps the Indians won’t have to play without their spark plug of a second baseman very long.
Either that, or Kipnis has been around the Tribe (11-16) long enough to know that when it rains, it pours and sometimes the best one can do is to laugh in order to keep from crying.
Kipnis left Tuesday’s game in the middle of the fourth inning in his second at bat with what the Indians medical staff later classified as a right abdominal strain. Kipnis said he felt a sudden pain in the middle of his swing that produced a ground ball. He then struggled to make it to first base and keep the Angels from turning a double play.
“It almost felt like someone punched me in the back,” Kipnis said. “It knocked the wind out of me, so I couldn't really breath running down to first base.”
Now, the struggling club that has lost five consecutive and is a game away from going 0-for-California on its six-game West Coast swing that began with a three-game sweep over the weekend by the San Francisco Giants, will have to play for the time being without its All-Star second baseman.
Wishful thinking after Tuesday’s game was that Kipnis would miss just a handful of games and not have to be placed on the 15-day disabled list.
“The training staff is hopeful that it's more of a cramping type thing, but we'll know a lot more tomorrow,” Tribe manager Terry Francona said. “We'll know a lot more when he shows up tomorrow and he doesn't have the adrenaline of the game going and he’s had a chance to sleep.”
For the struggling Indians, Kipnis’ injury made a bad road trip even worse.
“It doesn't help,” Francona said. “He's obviously a huge part of what we do. We're just going to have to keep our fingers crossed that he shows up tomorrow and doesn't feel worse. That would be a very good sign.”
Kipnis overcame a slow start last season before going on to earn his first American Legaue All-Star selection, so no one is too concerned that he entered Tuesday’s game at Angels Stadium batting .239 with six doubles, three home runs and 12 RBI.
The Indians also overcame a quadriceps injury to shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera last season, thanks in large part to their reserve versatility and depth filling in until Cabrera was healthy enough to return to the lineup.
“It's very frustrating,” said Kipnis, who signed a6-year, $52.50 million dollarextension earlier this month. “In the nicest way of putting it, I despise the DL and I don't like the training room. I just don't like being a part of that and it's just not what we need right now.
“But, the one thing that we can always rely on is the depth of this team. We have very good guys to fill in for me in Mike (Aviles) and Elliot (Johnson) and a bunch of guys. So, it's not really losing too much. I mean, if you've been paying attention, a .240 average is not too hard to replace right now.”
All jokes aside, Kipnis sounded resigned to possibly missing at least a couple games.
“I treated it and we'll see how I wake up (Wednesday) morning and see how it feels,” he said. “Hopefully it's nothing too long, no need for a DL. That's obviously the optimistic view, but we'll see how it feels…That's all right. I've got a lot of faith in these guys and I'll be there, front row, cheering for them. They'll be filIling in just fine for me.”