CLEVELAND — Nick Swisher’s return to the lineup was delayed to at least today, as the Indians proceed cautiously with the first baseman and his sore left shoulder.
Manager Terry Francona pointed to Saturday as the return date, but instead Swisher missed his sixth straight game. He took batting practice and is expected to be back in the lineup today or Monday in Baltimore.
“I don’t want to have him down for four, five, six days and not have it be productive,” Francona said of Swisher, who is batting .237 with seven home runs and 24 RBIs. “The good news is he’s coming. Is it (today)? Probably, but it would be the next day if not.”
The Indians will most likely have to monitor Swisher’s shoulder for the remainder of the season, with surgery at the end of the year a possibility.
In other injury news, right-hander Zach McAllister (right middle finger sprain) has begun playing catch with tape on his finger. He is still weeks away from returning to the rotation.
“This is not something to mess around with,” Francona said. “He’s got to be completely symptom-free when he starts to throw without that tape.”
McAllister’s return may not come until after the All-Star break.
“We have not ever put a timetable on it, because, honestly, we don’t know,” Francona said. “When it’s pain-free, we’ll be ready to really turn the page, but not until then.”
With speedy right fielder Drew Stubbs batting ninth, the Indians have a leadoff hitter at the top of the order — Michael Bourn — and one at the bottom.
“It works really well,” Francona said. “(Stubbs) goes first to third as good as anybody in the league. His speed plays in all facets of the game.”
Though Stubbs entered Saturday batting just .237 and with a .291 on-base percentage in 67 games, he was batting .293 with 10 runs over his last 12 games and had yet to be caught stealing in seven attempts.
Calls to Hall
Former second baseman Carlos Baerga and general manager John Hart were inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame prior to the game Saturday.
As GM from 1991-2001, Hart led a baseball resurgence in Cleveland that saw the Indians win six Central Division titles and qualify for two World Series.
Baerga was a key member of a number of those division-title teams, making the All-Star team three times over his tenure with the Indians (1990-96, ’99).
“I remember he didn’t look like a player but, boy, could he hit, and he loved to play,” Francona said of Baerga, who was a guest instructor at spring training this year. “His enthusiasm was infectious.
“He’s unbelievably enthusiastic about whatever he does and I don’t think that will ever stop. He did some event this spring with my dad, and my dad wants to adopt him. He loves him.”
Indians Hall of Famers Sandy Alomar Jr., Kenny Lofton and manager Mike Hargrove were on hand for the ceremonies, with Baerga tossing out the ceremonial first pitch to Alomar, his former teammate.
Second baseman Jason Kipnis has reached base in 24 straight games, including Saturday. Through Friday, Kipnis was batting .355 with a homer and
12 RBIs in 18 games in June.
** The Indians have signed 20 of their 39 draft picks, including their top nine selections. The deadline to sign draft choices is July 12.
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