Spring Training Notes 2/25: Jason Kipnis to begin Cactus League as designated hitter

A cautious approach seems to be a recurring theme for the Cleveland Indians this spring. Over the last two days, manager Terry Francona has addressed the need to take it slow with his players heading into the season. The IBI's John Alfes details the statuses of Jason Kipnis (shoulder program), Brandon Guyer (hip) and Mike Clevinger.

Although Edwin Encarnacion, Andrew Miller, Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez were collectively able to make their season debuts on Saturday, two players found themselves out of the Game 1 lineup.

Due to Jason Kipnis’ shoulder program and Brandon Guyer’s hip injury, secondary options like Michael Martinez and Daniel Robertson started in place of their teammates. Neither player will miss substantial time as both of their statuses are considered more precautionary than anything.

The only other notable headline from Goodyear, AZ concerned Mike Clevinger’s omission from the mix for a spot in the big league bullpen.

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- For the first batch of games, Kipnis will be confined to designated hitter duties to tend to his shoulder strengthening routine. There are no injury concerns at this time, but skipper Terry Francona would like to limit his throwing workload in the early stages of the campaign.

“I think we all got a sniff of what we wanted to do, of where wanted to be and what kind of games we wanted to play late in the season,” said Kipnis about last year’s memorable ride to the World Series. “It can only help us and motivate us in the sense of we know what’s out there. We know what that hanging fruit tastes like and we want to get back to it.”

- Filling a valuable role as a platoon player against left-handed pitching in 2016, Guyer was held out of Saturday’s spring training opener because of a minor hip injury. The 31-year-old is reportedly taking outfield drills but will remain on the bench for a few contests.

“He’s such a tough kid, such a good worker that letting him spend some time with the trainers and get this thing right is the right thing to do,” Francona said to reporters. “He’s getting a little closer.”

- Clevinger is out of the major league bullpen conversation, according to Francona. Acquired from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for Vinnie Pestano in August of 2014, Clevinger will strictly serve a starting role for the foreseeable future of the season. If an injury to the MLB rotation arises, then he could step in and act as a temporary fifth starter.

“You need depth starters,” said Francona. “If you put a guy in a bullpen role, it’s really hard to stretch him out. Just for a number of reasons, I don’t think it makes sense.”

John Alfes has covered the Indians for IBI since August of 2016. Follow him on Twitter @JohnAlfes for breaking news and in-depth coverage all season long.

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