After a tough loss on Memorial Day at the hands of the Chicago White Sox, the Cleveland Indians find themselves 24-28, 6.5 games back of the leading Detroit Tigers in the American League Central. The team has been playing better, but still has yet to hit its stride and now is dealing with a whole new set of banged up players.
Included on that list are Nick Swisher (knee), Carlos Santana (concussion) and Asdrubal Cabrera (knee). Injuries are nothing new to the Indians, who also are without starter Zach McAllister with a lower back strain, though his ‘injury’ seems more of the team’s doing since he’s been awful after an early 3-0 start.
While the injury news is bad, the team does have a key player returning on Wednesday, that being 2013 All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis. The Northbrook, IL native has been out since April 29 with a strained right abdominal muscle, and has been chomping at the bit to get back on the field.
Though hitting just .234 with three homers and 12 RBI in 94 at-bats in 2014, the club could use his grit and determination, not to mention his ability to get hot like he did last May and June, going on a tear which saw him raise his average on May 1 from .189 to .299 on June 30, working hard to make it as an American League All-Star for the first time in his career.
Kipnis may not be the vocal leader in the locker room, but he’s a leader on the field and he shows it with his play both on offense and defense. There’s no doubt that manager Terry Francona along with his teammates will love to have him back, and hope that he can get on one of those streaks like he did a season ago.
With Kipnis back, it will also make the bench a better and stronger unit, as Mike Aviles, who played well in the near one-month absence of Kipnis. More so with injuries to other key players, it will allow Francona to use Aviles in other positions on the field if need be.
The key now is Kipnis. He’s been anxious to get back, the team and fans have been waiting his return, and with the circumstances with of a not-so-healthy roster, the return of one of the biggest players on the roster could not have come at a better time.