The Cleveland Indians may start the season without their best player.
All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor will miss spring training camp — and maybe the start of the season — with a strained right calf. It’s an injury that is concerning to the AL Central champions, who have had an interesting offseason.
One of baseball’s top all-around players, Lindor recently got hurt while working out in Orlando, Fla. He was checked Wednesday at the Cleveland Clinic and team physician Mark Shickendantz confirmed a moderate sprain.
The Indians, who have overhauled their roster this winter, anticipate him missing up to nine weeks, which would place his return sometime in early April. Cleveland opens the regular season March 28 in Minnesota.
The loss of Lindor for any period is a major blow to the three-time defending division champions. The 25-year-old is an offensive force, elite defensive player and will be counted on to provide more leadership this season following the departures of outfielder Michael Brantley and catcher Yan Gomes.
A three-time All-Star, Lindor batted .277 last season with 38 homers, 92 RBIs and tied for the league lead with 129 runs.
Lindor’s talent and charisma have endeared him to Indians fans, whose loyalty may be challenged this season with the club’s roster makeover.
The team tried to soothe them with a playful posting about Lindor’s injury on Twitter.
“Get well soon & keep smiling!” the team wrote. “We are confident that everyone will handle this news calmly & rationally ...”
If Lindor isn’t ready for opening day, Indians manager Terry Francona has some options at shortstop. One choice could be sliding over All-Star third baseman Jose Ramirez, who has played 109 games at short.
Last month, Lindor signed a one-year $10.55 million contract for 2019 to avoid salary arbitration with the Indians. He has previously declined to sign a long-term deal with the club.
Bauer, Tribe in arbitration
Pitcher Trevor Bauer has gone to salary arbitration with the Indians for the second straight year.
After winning last year’s hearing, Bauer asked for $13 million and the Indians argued for $11 million. Arbitrators James Darby, James Oldham and Sylvia Skratek are not expected to rule until next week, after the hearings for Houston’s Gerrit Cole and Cincinnati’s Alex Wood.
Bauer won a $6,525,000 salary last year in a case decided by arbitrators Andrew Strongin, Steven Wolf and Robert Herzog, who ruled against Cleveland’s $5.3 million offer.
The 28-year-old was a first-time All-Star last year and finished sixth in AL Cy Young Award voting after going 12-6 with a 2.21 ERA, second behind Tampa Bay’s Nate Snell. Bauer is eligible for free agency after the 2020 season.
Joyce signs deal
The Indians reached agreement on a minor league contract with free agent outfielder Matt Joyce, who could bring depth and another option to an area of uncertainty. Joyce’s deal is pending a successful physical.
He played the past two seasons in Oakland. The 34-year-old hit 25 home runs with 68 RBIs in 2017, but played in only 83 games last season because of back injuries.
A left-handed hitter, he made $6 million in the final season of a $10 million, two-year deal. If he makes Cleveland’s 40-man roster, he would get a one-year deal that pays $1.25 million in the majors. He would have the chance to earn $500,000 in performance bonuses.
Guyer deal finalized
Outfielder Brandon Guyer and the Chicago White Sox finalized their minor league contract.
If added to the 40-man roster, he would get a one-year deal paying $1.6 million in the major leagues and $150,000 in the minors.
Guyer, who debuted with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011, has a .250 career batting average. He hit .266 for Tampa Bay and Cleveland in 2016 but has struggled the past two years, batting .206 in 103 games for the Indians last season.
Tomlin joins Brewers
Right-hander Josh Tomlin agreed to a minor league contract with the Milwaukee Brewers, who hope he can earn a job as a non-roster player and become part of their starting rotation.
If added to the 40-man roster, the 34-year-old right-hander would get a one-year contract paying $1.25 million. He would have a chance to earn $2.25 million in performance bonuses.
Tomlin was 2-5 with a career-worst 6.14 ERA last season in nine starts and 23 relief appearances for Cleveland, his only team in nine big league seasons. He was 0-4 with a 7.84 ERA when dropped from the rotation in mid-May and stayed in the bullpen until late September.
He is 61-53 with a 4.77 ERA in 144 starts and 39 relief appearances.
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