While his teammates are on the field, Francisco Lindor has spent the last two games sitting next to RubberDucks manager Dave Wallace, asking questions and making observations from a different view than he’s accustomed.
When the RubberDucks are batting, Lindor slowly trots over to the first base coaching box and settles in for the inning — in case a teammate needs him to hold a guard or batting gloves after reaching safely.
Granted, it’s nowhere near as much fun as playing shortstop for the Double-A team. But at least the Indians’ top prospect is absorbing more as an active and informed bystander than he would lounging in the dugout bored to death.
“Thursday, Francisco and I were watching Bryce Harper hit [the Washington Nationals outfielder is rehabbing with Harrisburg],” Wallace said. “Harper hit a changeup and that was poorly executed. But I pointed out [to Lindor] that [Harper] was out in front of it, but was still able to stay through it and get the barrel there for a double. As much as I don’t want Harper to hit a double off us, it was a great teaching moment. We were breaking down the swing and proving [a hit] doesn’t have to come from a perfect balanced swing every time.”
The change of roles for Lindor started Thursday, a day after he suffered a small, nondisplaced nasal fracture against visiting Erie on a bad-hop ground ball in the third inning. Although the fracture is small, Lindor has been shut down from baseball activity for several days. He is expected to return to the RubberDucks lineup after seven to 10 days.
“It was a routine ground ball and as soon as it was hit, in my mind I was thinking double play because it would have gotten us out of the inning,” Lindor said two days after breaking his nose, yet without a mark or bruise of any sort on his face to show for it. “But it was just that one [bad] hop and I was capable of putting my hands in the way to try to stop it from hitting me. Instead, I stopped it with my nose.”
Lindor laughs at the thought of how silly he must have looked on the play.
“It’s nothing major, really,” said the 5-foot-11, 175-pounder. “If they’d let me play, I’d be playing right now.”
Instead, the Tribe brass won’t take any chances with the prized prospect who is the heir apparent to Asdrubal Cabrera in Cleveland. So for now, Lindor is scheduled to see a specialist on Monday who will fit him with a personalized protective clear mask. After his mask is ready, there may be no more keeping Lindor off the field.
Before the injury, Lindor was hitting .283 in 72 games with nine doubles, four triples, six home runs, 43 RBI and 47 runs scored. Lindor, 20, has also stolen 19 bases and has been caught seven times.
“You should see how bad he is when I’m just trying to give him a day off,” Wallace said. “But he knows this is for the best right now.”
Stephanie Storm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/abj.sports.