Tribe Notes — Multiple Indians players are dealing with various injuries, Jones gets big-league invite

The Indians are banged up heading into their first full week of Cactus League play

James Rapien
February 24, 2020 - 3:42 pm

CLEVELAND, OH — The Indians will play their second game in Cactus League play on Monday afternoon against the Rockies.

The Tribe dealt with the injury bug for much of last season. They were hoping to turn the page in 2020, but multiple players are dealing with injuries with the team entering their first full week of Cactus League play. 

Mike Clevinger is expected to miss another 5-7 weeks after undergoing a procedure to repair a partially torn meniscus in his left knee.

Carlos Carrasco suffered a mild right hip flexor strain. He’s officially day-to-day with the injury, but the team will take it slow with his recovery. Carrasco, who will turn 33 next month, battled chronic myeloid leukemia last season. He’s hoping to return to the starting rotation after making 11 relief appearances last September.

Aaron Civale is dealing with a sore groin. He’s expected to contribute in a big way this season, after making 10 starts last year.

“He’s doing fine,” manager Terry Francona said. “He’s just backed up a few days.”

Civale is expected to throw a simulated game on Monday. He went 3-4 last season with a 2.34 ERA in 57 ⅔ innings.

Reliever Emmanuel Clase is dealing with lat (back) discomfort. The team will slow him down, but they don’t think it’s a serious issue.

“If it was the (regular) season, he’d pitch,” Francona said. “We’re just trying to make sure we do this right.”

The Indians acquired Clase from the Rangers in the Corey Kluber trade. The 21-year-old posted a 2.31 ERA in 21 appearances for the Rangers last season. He had 21 strikeouts and allowed just six earned runs in 23⅓ innings. 

"I never want to throw another one (bullpen) next to him," Nick Wittgren said last week when asked about Clase. "It looked like I was throwing about 65 mph." 

Clase's fastball routinely hits 99 and has topped out at 102 mph. 

Outfielder Daniel Johnson is also less than 100 percent after suffering a sprained ankle before spring training started. Johnson was in Saturday’s lineup against the Reds, but was a late scratch from a game that never began due to rain.

“We thought by all accounts that he was ready to go,” Francona said. “He kind of self reported that he was 75 percent. He was more than willing to play. I just don’t think that’s fair to a player. We’ll slow him down a little bit.”

Johnson will face some stiff competition in the outfield. Bradley Zimmer, Greg Allen and Jake Bauers are all battling for roster spots.

The 24-year-old showed his potential last season after the Indians acquired him in the Yan Gomes trade.

Johnson posted a .290/.261/.507 slash line in 123 minor league games. He spent most of his time in Columbus and joined the organizations top prospect — Nolan Jones — in the Future’s Game during the All-Star break.

“We're really excited about the development Daniel made last year and are excited to continue to see his growth and development this year,” Antonetti said in January. “We do think he's got a chance to impact his major league team, exactly when that will be is hard to predict, but we're really excited by the progress he made last year and we're looking forward to seeing him again this spring.”

An injury as minor as a sprained ankle could be the difference between starting the year in Triple-A and earning a spot in the big leagues.

Nolan Gets the Call

Jones, 21, was on the receiving end of some good news after an offseason full of rehab. The Indians top prospect will join big-league camp as a non-roster invite.

"That was just pure pleasure," Francona said. "He's a great kid to boot. Just to see his eyes light up. I think you need to take a second to enjoy it."

Jones posted a .253 average with eight home runs and 22 RBI for Double-A Akron last season. He spent most of last year in High-A Lynchburg. He led the Carolina League with an .860 OPS and has a .286/.435/.425 slash line with seven homers and 41 RBI in 77 games.

He injured his thumb in the Arizona Fall League, but was ahead of schedule, which gave the organization confidence that he was ready to join the big-league camp. He had surgery in October.

Jones is the No. 37 ranked prospect in all of baseball according to MLB Pipeline.