CLEVELAND: Local baseball fans aren’t the only ones excited that the Indians’ No. 2 prospect — shortstop Francisco Lindor — will be a step closer to the major leagues come Monday.
Indians manager Terry Francona gushed about the Tribe’s No. 1 pick (eighth overall) in the 2011 draft a day after learning he’d been promoted to Double-A Akron, where Lindor is expected to report Monday after taking part in Major League Baseball’s Futures Game on Sunday.
“He’s one of the special prospects in all of baseball,” Francona said before Saturday’s game against the visiting Kansas City Royals.
Lindor, 20, batted .306 with 19 doubles, six triples, 27 RBI and 20 stolen bases in 83 games with the Carolina Mudcats in the high Class-A Carolina League so far this season.
“He impacts the game in every aspect he touches,” Francona said. “The fact that he’s been moved to Double-A is a significant step in his career, and he’ll get tested … I personally thought it was the biggest jump. [He’ll] start to see guys that have major league stuff.”
Lindor’s latest test begins early next week when he reports to Canal Park.
Carter Hawkins, the Indians’ assistant farm director, said the exact date of Lindor’s first game in an Aeros uniform will depend on how his travel goes from New York City.
“He definitely will be in the lineup by Tuesday,” Hawkins said.
ROTATING ROTATION — Francona and his staff haven’t finalized the team’s pitching rotation following the All-Star break just yet.
“We may be redoing it a little bit,” Francona said. “[Pitching coach] Mickey [Callaway] and I and [director of baseball operations] Derek [Falvey] and [General Manager] Chris [Antonetti] and the guys, we’ll probably have it [today].”
The main key for the rotation moving forward is whether ace Justin Masterson pitches Tuesday for the American League squad during the All-Star Game.
“We’re reconsidering having Masty pitch the first game because we want him to be able to enjoy his experience [in New York] and be able to pitch and not have to worry about coming out of it three days later…We want to have it in concrete regardless [of whether Masterson gets in Tuesday’s game], so we might back him up a day.”
Another smaller factor is how well right-hander Zach McAllister does on his rehab assignment that began Saturday at Double-A Akron.
“It depends on health first and foremost,” Francona said. “After we get past that, it’s executing pitches. We’ll take everything into consideration but you can be sure we’ll err on the side of caution.”
Francona wouldn’t rule McAllister out of possibly sliding into the Tribe’s fifth spot in the rotation, but he didn’t want to put it in ink, either, in case the right-hander’s sprained middle finger isn’t quite ready to go.
MUCH NEEDED BREAK — The All-Star break couldn’t come soon enough for the Tribe’s slumping slugger, Mark Reynolds. But Reynolds, who entered Friday’s game mired in a 2-for-35 skid, may have boosted his own confidence during the first game of this series with a surprising clutch bunt that loaded the bases during the Tribe’s seventh-inning rally.
“I think that [bunt] caught everybody on the Royals, in the stands, in the press box and me by surprise,” Francona said. “But it might have won us the game. That was unbelievable…Because of that, I wanted to play him [Saturday]. We just kind of ran out of spots. But he’ll play [today].”
— Stephanie Storm