CLEVELAND -- A pair of right shoulder injuries have delayed the 2017 debuts for two of the longest tenured players presently in the Cleveland Indians organization.
Both franchise favorites are nearing a return to the big leagues.
Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall will continue their rehab assignments on Wednesday after making significant strides over the past week at Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus.
The two-time All-Star second baseman will play two to three consecutive games with the RubberDucks at second base and designated hitter.
“We might mix a DH in to get him to that third day in a row,” said manager Terry Francona. “He’s going to try to get to four at-bats tomorrow playing second and we’ll go from there.”
Kipnis strained his right rotator cuff and received a cortisone shot on February 26 as a precautionary measure for lingering right shoulder soreness. Francona and the team’s medical staff made the mutual decision to shut down their prized middle infielder for two weeks and take him out of the Opening Day conversation.
“We still have to get him out there where he can play back-to-back games defensively,” Francona said earlier this week. “I don’t think that’s going to take forever.”
Chisenhall is on the brink of a return after landing in Cleveland at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon. Francona considered activating Chisenhall in time for the home opener, but felt it was best not to rush the roster move.
“Lonnie is doing pretty well,” said Francona. “He played last night. He [landed] at 1:30 so we needed to obviously talk to him. By the time you talk to him and he gets here, it’d be like 3. It just doesn’t make much sense to make a player move like right out of introductions.”
The 28-year-old right fielder chased down a fly ball and slammed into the right field wall at Sloan Park to suffer an AC joint sprain in a spring training contest on March 24. Chisenhall went 4-for-4 with a double and two runs scored on Saturday with the Clippers.
“My guess is he’s going to play again tomorrow night,” Francona said. “And then we’ll revisit whether to activate him or let him play another game.”
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.