CLEVELAND — Catcher Yan Gomes is on the verge of returning to the lineup after missing the last two games of the series against Los Angeles with right hamstring tendinitis.
Gomes did some running at Progressive Field prior to Monday’s series opener against Central Division rival Minnesota.
“The last couple days, he actually said he doesn’t really feel it,” manager Terry Francona said of Gomes, who left Friday’s 7-4 loss to the Angels with what was initially diagnosed as right knee discomfort. “There was a thought that he could catch (Monday). It’s all gonna depend on how he feels when he runs. It’s a good thing that he hasn’t felt it and we’re really pleased, but we need to see how he feels when he gets going a little bit.”
Francona said Gomes, an All-Star (reserve) for the first time in his career this season, was available off the bench Monday. He wouldn’t have been in the lineup anyway, with Trevor Bauer on the mound and his personal catcher Roberto Perez behind the plate.
“He can catch. He can do everything,” Francona said. “Even the other night, he wanted to stay in the game. It just kind of hurt him when he was going from second to home.”
Francona has been pleased with the early results from splitting the closer duties between right-hander Cody Allen and lefty Brad Hand.
“You know it helps when you get pitchers that really like to pitch,” he said. “The times they get aggravated is when they don’t pitch, which I love. Anybody would. I think it makes us a better team.
“Everybody wants to pitch the ninth inning. I get that. I understand that. But I think they also want to win really bad. They see what can happen when we do it like this, and it gives us a better chance to win.”
Hand has been in the closer role as of late. Allen, meanwhile, appears to have benefited from the break, notching scoreless appearances in six straight outings through Sunday.
Cleveland got a big boost Friday with the return of left-hander Andrew Miller, which now gives the Indians three lefties in the bullpen.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever had that before, but it’s terrific,” Francona said. “It’ll help us a bunch before it’s all said and done.”
By some advance metrics, left fielder Michael Brantley is considered a below-average defender. But few play the ball off the 19-foot wall at Progressive Field better.
“He’s so good at that. He throws well anyway,” Francona said of Brantley, a Gold Glove finalist in 2014 who ranked fifth in the American League with 12 outfield assists. “He sees the field real well. His awareness is really good and his balance ... he can get it bare-handed and he’s already in his throwing position.
“He’s just so accurate. You see a lot of outfielders, they’ll maybe get the ball where he (does), but then they clutch. He catches it and he’s ready to go.”
Asked if anyone compared to Brantley during his days in Boston, where Fenway Park has the “Green Monster” which stands 37 feet tall in left, Francona oddly enough brought up Manny Ramirez.
“You know what’s weird? Manny didn’t get enough credit at times,” Francona said. “He could do his (Manny) thing at times. But what he could do is pick it up and throw it. Sometimes you swear he just heaved it, and it would land right on the bag. Like, unbelievably accurate. He was actually OK out there.”
Jose, Jose, Jose
Third baseman Jose Ramirez hit his 33rd home run Sunday and is tied with Boston’s J.D. Martinez for the most in the majors. Of the 33 homers, 12 have come in the first inning — most in the majors and a franchise record, surpassing Al Rosen’s 11 in 1953.
Ramirez also has 26 stolen bases and is tied with Seattle’s Dee Gordon for the AL lead.
The last player to lead the league in both categories for the season was Detroit’s Ty Cobb (nine homers and 76 stolen bases in 1909).
- Though right-hander Kyle Gibson was on the mound for the Twins on Monday, Brandon Guyer got the start in right field over Melky Cabrera. With lefty Adalberto Mejia scheduled to start tonight, Guyer will be back in the lineup and Francona said he wanted Guyer to play in consecutive games. Plus, Cabrera is just 3-for-31 with five strikeouts lifetime against Gibson.
- The Indians will unveil the official logo for the Cleveland-hosted 2019 All-Star Game during a ceremony at Progressive Field this afternoon.
- Former UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic threw out a ceremonial first pitch.