GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Once again, the Cleveland Indians are minus a significant piece.
Second baseman Jason Kipnis is likely to miss Opening Day because of a sore right shoulder, an injury that could cause the AL champions to reshape their infield for the start of the season.
Kipnis has been slowed by inflammation in his shoulder throughout training camp and the Indians are going to shut him down for two weeks to see how it responds.
Indians manager Terry Francona said Kipnis will “probably not” be ready when the Indians open the season April 3 at Texas.
“Hopefully, after these two weeks they completely knock it out, which would be great,” Francona said Sunday. “That’s why they’re doing it. And then they can let him ramp up and if he’s healthy he can ramp up quickly. But that (the opener) is probably a stretch right now.”
Kipnis received a cortisone shot in his shoulder Feb. 25. He played in his first Cactus League games as the designated hitter last week.
Francona said Kipnis could continue to DH, but the club wants him to completely rest the shoulder.
“He could certainly DH today,” Francona said. “He could actually go play second, but because there are times when he’s still feeling this thing (shoulder), the medical people and Kipnis have met and the determination was that we’re going to keep him down for a couple of weeks.
“He is getting better. Nothing has gone haywire, nothing has gone wrong. But it’s such a long season that taking this approach, we just want to make sure that they knock it out and not get it at 90 or 85 (percent). That’s why we’re doing this.”
Injuries are nothing new to the Indians, who only had left fielder Michael Brantley for 11 games last season and went deep into the postseason despite missing starters Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar.
A two-time All-Star, Kipnis is coming off a strong 2016 season. He batted .275 with 23 homers and 82 RBIs in a career-high 156 games. Kipnis batted .290 in the Series and homered twice as the Indians lost in seven games to the Chicago Cubs.
Kipnis spent time on the disabled list in 2015 with right shoulder inflammation.
Francona has several options if Kipnis is going to be sidelined. He can play Michael Martinez at second or perhaps shift Jose Ramirez over from third and play Giovanny Urshela on the left side.