GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Star shortstop Francisco Lindor and double-play partner Jason Kipnis have been ruled out for opening day by the Cleveland Indians.
The team said Friday night that neither player will be ready for Thursday’s opener at Minnesota. Lindor will start the year on the 10-day injured list. He has been recovering from a right calf strain that’s limited him during spring training. He has yet to appear in a Cactus League game but has participated in intrasquad minor league games. Potentially frigid weather in Minneapolis is an extra concern for Cleveland.
“I think, like most players, he had opening day as that marker, which I respect,” manager Terry Francona told reporters. “I think the best way to explain it is sometimes you got to do the right thing even when it’s not convenient. It’s so hard when he wants to play so bad to put him on hold for a little bit, but it’s the right thing to do.
“I mean the medical people are adamant that it’s the right thing to do, so we have to respect that. And I told Frankie. It’s no fun telling him that. I mean, shoot, I want him to play every game. But it is the right thing to do. We’ll get him back, and he’ll play the rest of the year and he won’t have to worry about it.”
Kipnis had an MRI on Thursday that confirmed a mild right calf strain. He won’t do any baseball activities for seven to 10 days before being re-evaluated.
Eric Stamets is likely to replace Lindor at short, and either Jose Ramirez or Max Moroff will likely slot in at second.
“I think we’re pretty comfortable — we know Frankie’s not gonna be very long — because Stamets catches the ball so well that sometimes you make a little jump on offense (by adding someone new), but what you sacrifice defensively is just not worth it,” Francona said. “It’s nice to know when the ball’s hit, you’re out. That’s a pretty good feeling.”
Outfielder Bradley Zimmer will also open the season on the 10-day IL. Zimmer had surgery on his right shoulder in July and is still recovering.
“(Zimmer) has done a terrific job of rehabbing and things,” Francona said. “He’s light-years ahead of where we thought he’d be at this time. Now he needs to keep that progression going.”
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