After being diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in late February, Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been on the mend ever since.
He began a rehab stint with the Akron RubberDucks last weekend, going 1-for-6 with 4 strikeouts. In his final game with the RubberDucks on Wednesday, Kipnis got hit by a pitch on his hand and was forced to leave early. The 30-year-old sat out a couple days and had x-rays taken, but with no damage done and he was recently cleared to return to the field.
Kipnis’ rehab continued in Triple-A on Saturday night with the Columbus Clippers. The question on Indians fans’ minds is when he’ll return to Cleveland.
The Clippers are in Columbus this weekend then hit the road next week. It wouldn’t be surprising if he didn’t travel with the Clippers on their upcoming road trip (not saying he’s spoiled or anything, but the seven-year big leaguer might not be up for a bus ride from Columbus, Ohio to Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania), so his stay with the Clippers might be brief.
The RubberDucks, who he rehabbed with last week, are also away from home early next week, so a return to Akron is unlikely as well. It’s possible the Indians think he’s ready to rejoin the club on their upcoming trip to Minnesota. The expectation, however, is a late April return, so that would be a little earlier than planned.
Official the6i4.com speculation is that he joins the Single-A Lake County Captains at home in Eastlake, Ohio (suburb of Cleveland) on Monday for a couple games, then rejoins the Tribe in his hometown, Chicago, next weekend to take on the White Sox.
Back to the game on Saturday night: Tim Adleman was scheduled to be the opposing starter for the Louisville Bats. He would have been a good test for Kipnis as he saw quite a bit of big league action with the Cincinnati Reds last year. Adleman, however, was scratched just prior to the game (most likely due to a Brandon Finnegan injury Saturday afternoon in Cincy), so lefty Nick Routt got the spot start. The late swap to Routt still presented a tough test for Kipnis considering his career splits of a .254 batting average against lefties versus .282 against righties. It’s important to keep in mind that while he is rehabbing his sore shoulder and hand, he missed most of Spring Training as well, so these at bats are meaningful in that aspect too.
Hitting third for the Clippers, his first at bat came in the bottom of the first inning. Kipnis hit a rocket to right field, but the stiff breeze that was blowing in knocked it down and into the right fielder’s glove. With no wind, the ball is at least off the wall, but with the conditions on Saturday night it was nothing more than a loud out. Jason Kipnis followed that up with a couple pop outs in the third and sixth innings. In the field he made a pretty nice stop on a ball to his left, but otherwise had a pretty quiet night.
All in all, Kipnis got his work in and left game after the sixth inning going 0 for 3 on the night. Despite getting out to an early lead, the Clippers lost their third consecutive game with a final score of 4-2.
Jason Kipnis is a big part of the Indians’ plans in 2017. He makes the already scary-looking lineup on paper even more intimidating. The sooner they can get him back in the lineup the better, and with the way he’s progressing it appears that may only be a matter of days from now.