GOODYEAR, Ariz. — It’s of little concern now, but second baseman Jason Kipnis will not play in the exhibition opener today and is expected to miss the first few games with lower-back soreness.
Kipnis was at the Indians’ spring training complex Thursday but did not participate in the workout.
This is a big season for Kipnis, who struggled with injuries and on the field last year, batting only .232 with 12 home runs and 35 RBIs. The two-time All-Star, whose contract expires at the end of 2018, was the subject of multiple offseason trade rumors.
In other injury news, manager Terry Francona said outfielder Brandon Guyer will miss the next few days to rehab with trainers after aggravating a left wrist injury that required offseason surgery. Guyer is expected to resume baseball activities Monday.
** The Indians are taking it slowly with Danny Salazar, who experienced right shoulder/rotator cuff soreness during his offseason throwing program. It’s unlikely he’ll be ready for Opening Day.
“He’s doing a lot of the weighted ball (drills), the throwing progression — 60 (feet), 90. So he’s a little bit behind everybody,” Francona said. “That’s probably the best way to put it. Danny’s had issues crop up from time to time, and we’d like to get him to the point where he’s every five days and not have to worry about it. So if we have to go slower with him, we will. That’s the idea.”
** Right-hander Cole Sulser won’t be able to pitch after breaking a rib prior to reporting to his first big league training camp. He sustained the injury during an awkward fall while helping his parents move. Sulser, 27, was at Double-A Akron (10 games) and Triple-A Columbus (25 games) last year, going a combined 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA.
Ease into it
Thanks to a shortened training camp this year, the Indians will play their regulars even less than usual during the first week of exhibition games.
“You won’t see guys the first couple games playing real deep into the game,” Francona said. “You’re going right into games, so you’ll see the first handful of games, guys won’t play very long. It’ll give the guys — the younger guys, and the guys that are competing — it’ll give them a chance to kind of get their legs under them so they can start to show what they can do. Typically, the guys that are competing for jobs play more consistently early.
“That’s why you see them, for the most part, swing the bat better, because the guys we know are going to play for us, they go every other day for a while. You don’t see them finding their swing, which is OK, because we want it to be down the road — not this week.”
Speed it up
MLB will experiment with another pace-of-play rule change this spring, putting a runner on second base to start the 10th inning in exhibition games. The rule will be used in this year’s All-Star Game to start the 11th inning.
“I think the commissioner (Rob Manfred), as he probably should be, is thinking about the fans,” Francona said. “I actually think it might be kind of fun. Don’t they do that in softball? I think they’re thinking about doing those types of things in the minor leagues.
“They were telling us a story, oh, man, one of the Braves’ minor league affiliates played a total of 10 extra games because of all the extra innings, and they said it’s just not healthy. So they’re messing around with something like that. I actually think it’d be kind of fun.”
Teams will not be able to choose their runner. The player making the last out of the ninth inning will begin the 10th on second.
Baseball experimented with the rule last year in the Rookie and Arizona leagues.
The Indians and all other 29 teams will wear Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School caps today in honor of the victims from the recent school shootings in Parkland, Fla.
“I don’t know what it means. I mean, it seems like wearing a hat, it’s not going to change anything,” Francona said. “But I think showing support is always a good thing, especially when you talk about kids and what happened. In my opinion, it’s a very small thing, but if it helps even one single person, good. I think any time bad things happen, and you show unity, that’s a good thing. I think that’s one thing that we seem to be really good at.”
- Former Indians player Rudy “The Red-Hot Rapper” Regalado died Feb. 12 at the age of 87. Regalado, a third baseman, played for Cleveland’s World Series team in 1954, spending three seasons with the Indians from 1954-57.
- ** Left-hander Andrew Miller threw his first bullpen session of the spring Thursday after missing time with the flu.
- ** The Indians will use a lineup of Francisco Lindor (SS), Yan Gomes (C), Jose Ramirez (3B), Edwin Encarnacion (DH), Yonder Alonso (1B), Rajai Davis (CF), Melvin Upton Jr. (RF), Brandon Barnes (LF) and Drew Maggi (2B).