CLEVELAND — Giovanny Urshela began a minor league rehab assignment Friday with Triple-A Columbus, taking the first step toward forcing the Indians to make a decision on his future with the organization.
Urshela and current utility infielder Erik Gonzalez are without minor league options. When Urshela (mild right hamstring strain) is ready to leave the disabled list, the Indians will only be able to keep one of them on the 25-man roster.
Cleveland has over two weeks left on Urshela’s rehab assignment, but manager Terry Francona said it likely won’t take that long to decide.
The odd man out between the pair will likely be designated for assignment and leave the organization.
“We know Gio really well. We know what both of them do when healthy.” Francona said. “So you want to get both guys to the point where they’re healthy. If they’re swinging the bat good, that certainly helps, but we kind of know what they do and who they are.”
Gonzalez, 26, was signed as a non-drafted free agent and has been with the organization since 2008. He split last season between the majors and minors, batting .255 with four home runs and 11 RBIs in 60 games for the Indians. He was on the postseason roster, making two appearances in the Division Series loss to the Yankees.
Urshela, 26, was also signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2008 and also split last season between Cleveland and Columbus, batting .224 with a homer and 15 RBIs in 67 games in the majors.
He started all five games of the ALDS at third base once Jose Ramirez moved to second and Jason Kipnis played center field, going 2-for-12 with an RBI and committing a pair of errors in a 7-3 Game 4 loss at Yankee Stadium.
Outfielder Rajai Davis received four stitches to his forehead after his batting helmet cut it during a stolen base attempt Friday.
Francona and assistant athletic trainer Jeff Desjardins checked on Davis, who remained in the game with a bandage and was back in the lineup Saturday before the rainout.
“They do the concussion protocol stuff first and JD asked him how many outs there were. And I don’t know if Raj even knew if he was safe or out,” Francona said. “We got a pretty good laugh about that later on. We were in the dugout talking about it.”
It was a light moment to what could have been a serious situation.
“We were laughing about it, but every inning they check with him because that’s the last thing we want to do with somebody out there that’s not supposed to be. That doesn’t work good for anybody,” Francona said. “And it’s when you’re messing with a concussion, I think as people have learned over the years, that’s not something to mess around with. And you can start to get into some pretty serious stuff.”
Davis was safe on the play, bringing his team-high stolen base total to four. The first Cleveland player to reach four stolen bases last year was Michael Brantley — on May 19.
Not there yet
Though he is healthy enough to play, Brandon Guyer is still working his way back from a spring training setback with a left wrist injury that required offseason surgery.
He is batting only .136 (3-for-22), including 2-for-16 against lefties, his specialty.
“You know, I really thought on the West Coast, he was the one guy who took some really healthy swings,” Francona said of Guyer, who was limited to 70 games last year. “We actually let him face a couple right-handers when they came in from the bullpen, and then he hit a couple balls at people. When you play sparingly, you’ve got to kind of sit on that.
“He’s a really tough kid. He takes aggressive swings, and I’m guessing that it doesn’t feel as good as he says it does, but he’s a really tough kid. We’ve talked about it a lot, when we’re facing lefties, we need him to be a guy that can do some damage.”
- Shortstop Francisco Lindor has recorded multiple hits in each of his last three games, going 7-for-14 with a homer, five RBIs and five runs to raise his average from .159 to .241.
- Corey Kluber worked at least seven innings and struck out at least seven, while allowing two runs or fewer, in each of his first three outings. It is the longest such streak to begin a season for the Indians since Sam McDowell in 1964.