CLEVELAND — During a pregame ceremony Monday, the Indians presented Mike Napoli, their former slugger, with his AL championship ring from his one season in Cleveland last year.
Tribe manager Terry Francona was looking forward to handing Napoli his ring.
“That’ll be one of the biggest honors I’ll ever have, and I’m sure our guys will be out there, as they should be,” he said. “I told Nap it would be one of the funnest honors I’ve ever had.”
Napoli was joined by Francona, team president Chris Antonetti and general manager Mike Chernoff during the presentation, with Indians players watching from in front of the dugout.
Francona said Napoli visited him in his office prior to the game, with some Cleveland players stopping in to see their former teammate.
“It was fun to see their reaction to him because he’s so well-thought of, myself included,” Francona said of Napoli, a clubhouse leader and fan favorite. “He knows we don’t want him to beat us. I think he probably would respect that. I respect it in him. You’re competitive, you want to win. But that doesn’t take away any of the fondness or appreciation that we have for him — and that’s all in the present tense, not in the past tense because he was here.”
Brantley, Guyer back
The Indians activated a pair of outfielders from the disabled list Monday, most notably Michael Brantley, who has been sidelined since June 16 with a right ankle sprain.
Brandon Guyer, who missed six weeks with a left wrist sprain, was also activated, with Cleveland optioning outfielder Daniel Robertson and relief pitcher Shawn Armstrong back to Triple-A Columbus.
“Having Brant back is always good,” Francona said. “Guyer wasn’t swinging the bat great before he got hurt, but having his toughness is always welcome. He’s just a tough kid. That characteristic ... that trait ... is always welcome.”
Brantley, who is batting .296 with five home runs and 28 RBIs over 54 games, was not in the lineup for the series opener against Texas with the Indians feeling he needed one more day of work before starting him. He is expected to play tonight.
Guyer, who entered Monday batting .182 with a homer and five RBIs over 21 games, started in left field and hit sixth.
Outfielder Austin Jackson, who left Sunday’s game in the fifth inning with tightness in his left quad muscle, underwent an MRI on Monday. Jackson sustained the injury running the bases in the series finale with Minnesota.
Though Francona said Jackson felt better, there is the possibility that he will be placed on the DL today.
Indians ace Corey Kluber was named American League Player of the Week.
The right-hander, who has been stellar in five starts off the injured list (3-0 with a 1.29 ERA), didn’t allow an earned run in two outings last week, striking out 24 batters over 16 innings.
Brantley, third baseman Jose Ramirez and shortstop Francisco Lindor are still in contention for starting spots in the All-Star Game on July 11 in Miami.
Ramirez trailed the leader, Minnesota’s Miguel Sano, in the final All-Star voting update Monday, but had trimmed his deficit in half, with voting set to end Thursday.
Lindor, an All-Star last year, was second behind Houston’s Carlos Correa, while Brantley, an All-Star in 2014, ranked fourth among AL outfielders. Los Angeles’ Mike Trout is injured and not expected to play, which could move Brantley into one of the three starting spots.
Cleveland also has potential pitching candidates in Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Andrew Miller.
Texas manager Brian Bannister employs a unique batting order, hitting Napoli (14 homers through Sunday) eighth and Joey Gallo (19 homers) ninth.
“They’ve got an interesting lineup,” Francona said. “They’re really athletic in places and they’re not afraid to run, and then they’ve got two guys sitting down at the bottom that are trying to see how far they can hit it. It’s an interesting dynamic.”
Lonnie Chisenhall entered Monday leading the team with a .302 (13-for-43) batting average with runners in scoring position. Of Chisenhall’s 37 RBIs through Sunday, 27 of them had come with runners in scoring position.