DETROIT: Indians outfielder Abraham Almonte will soon be eligible to return, though it doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be inserted into the major league outfield.
Almonte was suspended for 80 games in the spring for failing a test that revealed performance-enhancing drugs. At the time, Almonte took responsibility for the failed test but said he didn’t know how the banned substance entered his system.
He had originally figured to play a significant role in the Indians outfield, but his suspension opened up an opportunity for Tyler Naquin to win a job on the Opening Day roster. Naquin has responded by playing so well that he earned a spot in the outfield.
The outfield currently consists of Rajai Davis, Lonnie Chisenhall, Naquin, Jose Ramirez and Michael Martinez, the latter two acting as utility men. That also doesn’t include Michael Brantley, who is still trying to rehab his right shoulder.
All five outfielders on the roster have been playing well. Almonte will be eligible to return July 3 but has an option and could be sent to Triple-A Columbus. The Indians have yet to announce a decision.
“I don’t make moves a week ahead of time,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “[Almonte] will have served his [suspension]. The rules say he had to serve an 80-game suspension, so that’s what he’s doing. It doesn’t say that he has to serve 80 and then be penalized another 10. In a perfect world, things like that don’t happen.
“He’s a good kid that made a mistake and he paid a price — so did we — but I don’t think you have to pay more than the price.”
The Indians are flip-flopping Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer in the starting rotation during their upcoming series with Atlanta.
The Indians want to give Kluber an extra day of rest after both pitched complete games against the Tampa Bay Rays. Bauer had been following Kluber after he took Carlos Carrasco’s spot in the rotation when Carrasco went down with a strained left hamstring.
The Indians don’t normally look to adjust the rotation in the middle of the season unless necessary to avoid sending a negative signal.
“One thing we don’t want to do is reinvent the game or be too tricky for your own good,” Francona said. “Unless you’re coming down to the last week of the year, rearranging your rotation, I don’t ever want our guys to think we’re running away from this guy to get to this guy. But I think when it’s rest and helping a guy, I think it’s really good.”
Second basemen Jason Kipnis left Saturday’s game in the seventh inning and sat out Sunday for what the team originally described as an illness, but the effect was soreness or stiffness.
Kipnis was available to pinch-hit if needed on Sunday, indicating it isn’t something that is expected to be drawn out.
“I don’t know if he was dehydrated or what, but he was real stiff because of it,” Francona said. “I told him, ‘I was kind of on the fence of playing you tomorrow anyway.’ He said, ‘I’m not going to tell you I want a day off.’ I said, ‘Well I’m going to take it out of your hands.’?”
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