CLEVELAND — The Indians received an unexpected double dose of bad news on the injury front Saturday.
Second baseman Jason Kipnis was unable to play against the Chicago White Sox because of a sore left elbow, and catcher Carlos Santana was scratched from the lineup after taking batting practice when his bruised left thumb flared up.
Manager Terry Francona said Kipnis was given the afternoon off for precautionary reasons, but is expected to return today in the series finale.
“Jason’s left elbow is just a little sore, and we’d like to keep it that way,” Francona said. “We don’t even know how he did it. In spring training, it was his other elbow that was sore, which he realized was from sleeping the wrong way.
“However it happened this time, we just figured it was best to take him out for a day and let him get better.”
Former Tigers second baseman Ryan Raburn filled in for Kipnis, who is batting .125 with no home runs, no stolen bases and two RBIs in eight games.
Santana was hurt Monday in the home opener against the Yankees, but was slated to return Saturday and bat sixth against White Sox ace Chris Sale. Ninety minutes before the first pitch, however, he informed Francona that his thumb was too sore to play.
“Everything will be all right,” Santana said. “In a little time, I’ll be OK. I feel much better than I did a couple days ago, but I wanted to stop (BP) so it didn’t get worse.”
Yan Gomes started at catcher, with Omir Santos as his backup, which also should be the case today. Santana said he could play Tuesday when the Indians begin a three-game home set against Boston.
“I probably messed up by putting out the lineup so early today with Carlos in it, before we fully knew if he could play,” Francona said. “That’s on me, but I just figured I’d get it out there.”
Francona added that he has been impressed with Gomes, who split 43 games between first base, third base, catcher and left field last season with the Toronto Blue Jays. The 25-year-old was born in Brazil, but resides in Knoxville, Tenn.
“I know he hasn’t caught a ton, but he doesn’t look like it,” Francona said. “He caught a very good game Friday, and he and Sandy (Alomar Jr., bench coach) were on the same page — and that’s very impressive at this stage of his development.”
Pitcher Justin Masterson praised the fans that were in attendance Friday night, when Cleveland beat the White Sox 1-0 on a walk-off single by Nick Swisher.
“The energy here was great last night,” the lanky right-hander said. “It’s like that a lot of times in Cleveland, but it was amped up more than usual. Hopefully, it’s the start of big things for us.”
Masterson earned the victory — with his second career nine-inning shutout — to drop his ERA to 0.41. He also became the second Tribe pitcher to win his first three starts of the season while allowing one or fewer total runs, joining the legendary Luis Tiant in 1966.
“I wasn’t here last year, so I can’t really comment on what Justin is doing differently,” Francona said. “But I can tell you he has depth to his seamer, life on his seamer and his breaking ball has been outstanding this season.”
The Indians and Yankees will play a traditional doubleheader May 13 at Progressive Field, making up the games that were rained out Wednesday and Thursday. The twinbill begins at 12:05 p.m., allowing fans to watch two games for the price of one.
“Whenever they’d have told us to play, we’d have played, but (not playing a day-night doubleheader) was very respectful of our front office,” Francona said. “That’s our owners being good to us.”
Tickets from the April 10 rainout will be honored at the gate, but fans holding tickets from April 11 must exchange them before May 13 to obtain new seats for any 2013 game.
First baseman/designated hitter Jason Giambi is scheduled to make his first start with the Indians today. The veteran slugger had been on the disabled list with a strained lower back from March 25 until Friday.
** Cleveland entered Saturday ranked 12th in the American League in batting average (.237), 13th in ERA (4.95), and 13th in fielding percentage (.976).
** Due to conflicts with Cavaliers broadcasts, the Indians games today and Wednesday will not air on WTAM-AM 1100. Tribe coverage will be provided by co-flagship station WMMS-FM 100.7.
Quote of the day
“That’s the life of a reliever for you. We complain when we’re pitching too much, but we also complain when we don’t get enough work.” — Joe Smith.
Contact Brian Dulik at email@example.com.