Indians’ second baseman Jason Kipnis is not expected to be ready for Opening Day, according to comments made by Terry Francona on Saturday. Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com reports that the infielder is scheduled to miss up to two weeks with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder.
The 29-year-old received a cortisone shot in his shoulder last month, but is still feeling discomfort after playing in back-to-back Cactus League games last week. He went 2-for-5 with a pair of singles and a walk and was expected to DH on Sunday before the team’s medical staff shut him down.
Kipnis batted .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs and an .811 OPS with the Indians in 2016. While this isn’t the first shoulder injury of the infielder’s career, Francona doesn’t expect that it will pose a significant problem down the road. Until Kipnis is cleared for a full return, Hoynes notes that the team could call on utility infielder Michael Martinez or third baseman Jose Ramirez to handle the keystone in his absence.
The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.
Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).
Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.