GOODYEAR, Ariz. — The Indians’ Opening Day middle infield continues to receive bad news.
Manager Terry Francona announced on Friday that star shortstop Francisco Lindor will open the season on the injured list. Lindor has been rehabbing from a strained calf he suffered just before camp. The original timetable for his return extended into mid-April but, as of now, Lindor will miss at least the first several games of the season.
His injured list stint can be backdated to March 25, meaning he could return April 4.
Lindor returning for Opening Day was certainly a goal, but the Indians aren’t willing to push it and risk aggravating the situation further.
“Like most players, he had Opening Day as that marker, which I respect,” Francona said. “I think the best way to explain it is sometimes you have to do the right thing even when it’s not convenient. It’s so hard, he wants to play so bad, but [we have] to put him on hold for a little bit. It’s the right thing to do.”
But that’s not all. Francona also announced that second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a low-grade calf strain and will have no baseball activities for seven to 10 days, putting his Opening Day status in serious jeopardy as well. Kipnis hasn’t yet been placed on the injured list, but he’ll most likely miss the first few games.
“We’ve got some work to do there to see where he’s at,” Francona said. “That leaves us with our second baseman and our shortstop not starting the season.”
Utility infielder Max Moroff and middle infielder Eric Stamets could both be in line for playing time early in the season. Moroff can play all three spots and is a switch hitter, adding some versatility. Stamets is a defense-first middle infielder who could handle shortstop well and at least cover the position defensively, though replacing Lindor’s bat is nearly impossible.
The Indians are also open to adding somebody within the next week, Francona said, either through a trade or by signing a player who recently opted out of his minor-league deal with another club.
“There are people out there and I know our guys are making phone calls and stuff so we’ll see what happens there,” Francona said.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at @ByRyanLewis.