It'll still be a while before the Indians welcome back the complete set, but one piece of their starting middle infield returned on Monday.
Jason Kipnis, who had been on the injured list all regular season to this point with a strained right calf, was activated off the injured list. With Kipnis and Francisco Lindor both sidelined, backups Eric Stamets and Max Moroff have received regular playing time.
To make room on the active roster, infielder Brad Miller was designated for assignment. That decision came down to either Miller or Moroff and potentially Stamets, though he's handling shortstop until Lindor returns. Miller, who was signed just after Kipnis went down with his injury, hit .250 with a .742 OPS in 40 plate appearances for the Indians.
Moroff, meanwhile, has some additional defensive utility and is a switch-hitter, but he's also collected only two hits with zero walks in 26 at-bats entering Monday. Stamets, entering Monday, was hitting .053.
Miller reportedly wasn't very happy about the decision, for obvious reasons. According to cleveland.com, Miller on Sunday said, "Obviously, they don't want the best players up here."
It appears the move came down to utility, though, as Miller and Kipnis are both left-handed hitters who primarily play second base. Although Miller was contributing to a struggling lineup, Moroff's ability to hit from both sides of the plate and grade at a higher level defensively added to his own resume, .077 batting average or not.
The surprising element with the move comes when it is compared to what Miller indicated to reporters when he first signed with the Indians.
"Yeah, I wouldn't have signed here if it was temporary," Miller said in March at the team's facility in Goodyear, Arizona. "I had other opportunities that were pretty significant as well. … I'm trying to make it pretty easy on them by how I play. I know what I'm capable of. I feel healthy, I feel like myself, I'm very hungry and opportunistic right now.
"I don't really think about what they're thinking now. I plan on showing with my play a winning team needs to have me in there."
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at @ByRyanLewis.