Tribe Notes: Ramirez continues to impress, Clevinger looks healthy and Kluber progressing

The Indians are playing well and getting healthy at the same time

James Rapien
July 18, 2019 - 12:32 am
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 15: Jose Ramirez #11 of the Cleveland Indians hits a two run double off Victor Alcantara #58 of the Detroit Tigers during the seventh inning at Progressive Field on July 15, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images)

Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images

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CLEVELAND, Ohio – José Ramírez was awful at times this season. The two-time All-Star was swinging at bad pitches, he wasn’t driving the ball and there were some who thought the 26-year-old would never regain his MVP-level form.

He had plenty of doubters and rightfully so, but it looks like he’s back to his normal self.

He went 3-for-4 in Wednesday night’s 7-2 win over Detroit, extending his hitting streak to nine games. He’s doubled in four straight contests.

Ramírez raised his batting average to .232, which is a season-high. He’s 24-for-68 (.353) in his last 18 games, with three home runs, seven doubles and 12 RBI. The Indians are 15-3 in those games.

"I've been feeling more confident and the (hard work) continues and the results are showing up. But, I feel really confident," Ramírez said.

His swagger is back. The trash talking has returned. His strut in the clubhouse is noticeable and it comes at a perfect time for the Indians.

They’re four games behind Minnesota in the American League Central Division. Ramírez is a big reason why they cut into the Twins’ lead. The Indians need him to play at a high level if they’re going to win the division for a fourth straight year.

His struggles were well documented. Fantasy baseball players around the country were wondering if he could turn it around? Local media members and radio shows openly asked if the Indians should consider trading Ramírez? Things were bad, but he says he never doubted himself.

“It (on field play) doesn't carry over,” he said. “As soon as the game is done, I try to clean up, get home and be with my family and everything goes away.”

The Indians were confident he would return to form. The organization always believed he would turn it around, they just didn’t know when it would happen.

“He’s our guy,” manager Terry Francona said. “This guy’s been in the top three in the MVP voting, it’s not like we’re going to bench him. Sometimes you’ve got to ride it out. It’s hard for him; it’s hard for us. But you can miss out on too much good stuff if you panic and pull a trigger you shouldn’t.”

The Indians stuck with him and their loyalty could pay off down the stretch.

Sunshine’s Back

Mike Clevinger tied a career-high with 12 strikeouts, allowing just one run in six innings on Wednesday night. He struck out every player in the Tigers’ lineup at least once. It was his eighth career double-digit strikeout game (third this season).

“I thought his stuff was tremendous,” Francona said. “He’s getting to the point now where you’re going to start to see the game dictate when he comes out.”

Clevinger has been the Indians’ most dominant starting pitcher when healthy. It’s a small sample size, but he didn’t allow a run in his first two starts (12 innings). He’s allowed one run in his last three outings (17 innings). If he can stay healthy, the sky is the limit for the 28-year-old right-hander.

Kluber’s First Bullpen

Corey Kluber threw a bullpen session on Wednesday for the first time since breaking the ulna bone in his right forearm on May 1. He threw 20 fastballs and felt good afterwards.

“They’re really happy with it,” Francona said. “Everybody came out smiling, so that’s good. He’ll play catch tomorrow (Thursday). He’ll have long toss Friday.”

Kluber’s next bullpen session is scheduled for Sunday. The trainers want him to long toss in between his bullpen sessions as he continues to build arm strength.

The 33-year-old has impressed teammates and coaches with his work ethic during his recovery. He stayed in shape throughout the process and is doing everything he can to get back on the field.

“If you saw his workouts, he amazes me,” Francona said on Tuesday. “How he can push himself when people aren’t around, it amazes me. The drive he has is incredible.”

Kluber expects to return to the mound this season. The Indians haven't set a timetable for his recovery, but don't be shocked if he’s pitching at Progressive Field in August. He's doing everything he can to return to the mound.