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Spring Training Notes 3/12: Jason Kipnis likely out for opening day

A cautious approach to injury rehabilitation continues to be employed by manager Terry Francona and the Cleveland Indians medical staff. Jason Kipnis will reportedly not be ready for opening day due to a strained right rotator cuff and lingering discomfort in his shoulder.

Only 22 days separates the Cleveland Indians from their opening day affair with the Texas Rangers.

This countdown will not apply to Jason Kipnis, the club's two-time All-Star second baseman who was diagnosed with a strained right rotator cuff on Feb. 25 after experiencing discomfort in his throwing shoulder.

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- The new 10-day disabled list may come into play earlier than expected for the Tribe when they open their season on Apr. 3. Despite a cortisone shot in his shoulder over two weeks ago, Kipnis will be shut down for an additional two weeks to prevent further soreness and a more severe injury.

"We're going to keep him down for a couple of weeks," said Terry Francona to a group of reporters on Sunday. "What they do in the next couple of weeks is to be determined. We had a pretty lengthy conversation because he is getting better."

Kipnis has been the designated hitter the last two Cactus League games going 2-for-5 with a walk, and was originally slated to DH on Sunday against the San Diego Padres. 

"He could certainly DH today," Francona said. "Nothing has gone haywire, nothing has gone wrong. But it's such a long season, by taking this approach, we want to make sure they knock it out and not get it at 90 or 85 percent. That's why we're doing this."

Potential replacements at second base include Michael Martinez, Erik Gonzalez or Ronny Rodriguez, all players with extensive minor league experience at the position. Even though Francona declared Jose Ramirez the everyday third baseman, he may shift him across the diamond and give Yandy Diaz or Giovanny Urshela the Game 1 role at the hot corner.

- The first round of spring training cuts were made to clear space on the pitching side of the roster on Sunday. Perci Garner and Tim Cooney were optioned to Triple-A Columbus while Dylan Baker was optioned to Double-A Akron.

Garner was in the conversation for the final spot in the Cleveland bullpen, but shaky command (3.2 IP, 5 H, 5 BB) hurt his chances.

Cooney was more of a long-term option after sitting out all of 2016 due to shoulder issues and most of 2017 camp because of a strain of his left flexor digitorum superficialis muscle (mid-forearm). The 26-year-old southpaw will continue rehabbing the latter of the two injuries with a potential return to the hill in May or June.

A strong showing at the annual endurance test (70 laps) garnered the attention of the Indians coaching staff, but Baker is headed for minor league camp before beginning the campaign in Akron. The Roseburg, OR native has been clocked at 98 mph, but has not pitched since 2015 due to Tommy John surgery.

- Here is the starting lineup for today's contest between the Tribe and Padres:

DH Bradley Zimmer

3B Jose Ramirez

RF Lonnie Chisenhall

CF Tyler Naquin

LF Abraham Almonte

C Erik Kratz

1B Nellie Rodriguez

2B Michael Martinez

SS Erik Gonzalez

RHP Corey Kluber (followed by LHP Kyle Crockett, LHP Boone Logan, RHP Travis Banwart, RHP Steve Delabar and LHP Tyler Olson).

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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