The last-place Indians will get a boost this week.
According to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, star second baseman Jason Kipnis is on track to return from the 15-day disabled list Tuesday against the White Sox after playing one final minor league rehab game Monday at Triple-A Columbus.
Kipnis slugged a two-run homer in his second rehab game Saturday with Columbus. He was batting just .234 with a .748 OPS through 113 plate appearances this season for the Tribe, but the 27-year-old can get it going in a hurry. He had an .818 OPS, 17 home runs, 84 RBI, and 30 stolen bases in 2013 then signed a six-year, $52.5 million contract extension with Cleveland this spring.
Mike Aviles has been filling in at second base in Kipnis’ three-week absence.
Free agent right-hander Henderson Alvarez signed a deal with the Tigres de Quintana Roo of the Mexican Baseball League earlier this week, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Friday. The righty wasn’t necessarily too fringey a player to hack it in the big leagues, but there were no MLB takers in attendance during his showcase in Venezuela last month and he clearly felt it best to try his luck elsewhere.
The 27-year-old’s last major league gig came with the Phillies, for whom he delivered a 4.30 ERA, 6.8 BB/9 and 3.7 SO/9 over 14 2/3 innings in 2017. While he’s not too far removed from his first and only All-Star bid in 2014, he was besieged by shoulder issues in 2015 and 2016 and underwent season-ending surgeries as a result.
That added injury risk, coupled with the fact that he hasn’t pitched more than 22 innings in a single season since 2014, may have been too much for major league teams to take on this spring. Assuming he steers clear of further injuries, however, a return to the majors may not be entirely out of the question in years to come.