Indians remain confident, despite Kipnis' season-ending injury

Terry Francona says the team "will figure it out" following Kipnis' injury

James Rapien
September 17, 2019 - 5:10 pm
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CLEVELAND, OH – The Indians have dealt with injuries all season long. The bad news continued on Tuesday when the team announced Jason Kipnis’ season was over due to a broken hamate bone in his right hand.

Kipnis, 32, is one of the leaders in the clubhouse and has helped stabilize a clubhouse that has faced its’ fair share of adversity in 2019. The team enters Tuesday’s game with Detroit just 1½ games behind Tampa Bay for the second wild card spot.

They’re not waiving the white flag, despite losing half of their starting infield for the rest of the regular season.

“I always feel like we’ll figure it out,” manager Terry Francona said. “Sometimes you lose a little margin for error. But I still feel like if we play the game like we’re supposed to, we can get done what we need to.”

There are 12 regular season games left. The Indians play the Tigers and Phillies at home, before ending the year with road matchups against the White Sox and Nationals.

Mike Clevinger, Carlos Carrasco, Corey Kluber and José Ramírez have each missed significant time due to injuries this season. Closer Brad Hand is working his way back after dealing with arm fatigue. He missed their weekend series against the Twins and will likely miss the next three games against the Tigers.

“Sometimes it becomes more challenging,” Francona said. “That’s part of it. You deal with it. I always feel like we're going to figure it out.”

Andrew Velazquez hopes to help fill the void Kipnis left behind. The 25-year-old is extremely versatile and has experience playing second, third, shortstop, center and left field. 

“They [minor league coaches] were really raving about his ability to play everywhere pretty well,” Francona said. “I know we were excited when we acquired him, and now that he’s here, kind of excited to see him play.”

Velazquez went 7-for-27(.259) with two home runs and two RBI in six playoff games for Columbus. 

The Indians’ margin of error is thinner than ever and their backs are up against the wall. They have no choice but to put their head down and win games, regardless of who’s in or out of the lineup.

Injury Updates

Hand threw at 100 feet on Monday and Tuesday. He’s scheduled to have a bullpen session on Wednesday. Kluber threw at 100 feet on Tuesday, after doing the same thing on Monday.

Ramírez continues to make progress with a broken hand of his own. The two-time All-Star turned 27 on Tuesday. Ramírez took ground balls and also participated in other drills in the batting cages before their matchup with the Tigers. There’s a chance he could do move forward with more on-field work this week.

The Rookie’s on Fire

Oscar Mercado has caught fire at the right time for the Indians. He's posted a .346/.419/.519 slash line with one home run and seven RBI in the month of September (14 games).

Mercado has made multiple game-changing grabs in center field and is a big reason why the Indians are still in the hunt for a playoff spot.

“Every time he's hit a valley, he's fought back,” Francona said. “It's easy to see Oscar making some more adjustments and actually getting better, whether he gets stronger or hits the ball out of the ballpark more or hits for a higher average or whatever, it’s easy to see that you have a pretty good player.”