News Channel 5 Cleveland
We have reached the most important month of the baseball season and right now the Indians are struggling. They were knocked back to the second Wild Card spot after getting swept by the Tampa Bay Rays this past weekend. It’s been a tough go for the Tribe as of late, but injuries sustained within this past weekend will make a fourth-consecutive playoff appearance more difficult.
The first injury happened last Saturday against the Kansas City Royals after Jose Ramirez broke his hand on a swing, requiring surgery on a fractured hamate bone. Ramirez will be out at least through the end of the regular season and most likely during some playoff games. This injury comes at a time when Ramirez had been playing some of the best baseball of not only the season, but his career. Jose hit .320 in July and .321 in August, and hit 15 of his 20 home runs during the past two months. His approach at the plate had drastically improved from the first half of the season, as he was swinging at fewer pitches outside the zone. Ramirez is an essential piece to the Indians’ success and his injury is a major setback.
Tyler Naquin was the next to suffer an injury, probably the scariest one of the season. In the fifth inning of Friday’s game in Tampa, Naquin raced back to make a running catch, immediately slamming into the left field wall at Tropicana Field. Naquin hung onto the ball but ended up tearing his ACL and had to be carted off the field (the ACL tear was confirmed on Saturday morning). For Naquin, this ends a bounce-back season in which he hit .288 with 10 home runs, his best batting totals since his rookie season in 2016. When Naquin eventually returns from injury, only time will tell if he will reach his full potential, as ACL tears are difficult for any athlete. For now, we can only wish him a speedy recovery.
In Saturday’s game against Tampa, it appeared Jason Kipnis hurt his hand after a swing and exited the game. Kipnis did not appear in yesterday’s series finale against Tampa and will be getting a further evaluation on the hand today.
These injuries come in a season with a seemingly endless string of names on the injured list. Francisco Lindor missed spring training and started the season on the IL. Corey Kluber has not pitched since May 1st and several other pitchers, both starter and bullpen have spent time on the injured list or are currently injured. This set of recent injuries has affected the Indians’ batting lineup and will be a difficult hurdle for a team with playoff ambitions.
Cleveland has gotten help in the pitching rotation in Zach Plesac and Aaron Civale, both of whom have stepped up in big ways with injuries, illness, and trades shaking up the starting rotation. The Tribe will need bench players and prospects to step up if they want to make a run in October. If the season goes south, Cleveland fans can at least look forward to the Browns, if they weren’t already.