But Jose Ramirez breaking the hamate bone in his right hand in late August is not a good thing for the Indians and their chances to play baseball in October.
He was scheduled to undergo surgery at 4 p.m. Monday in New York and will probably miss the next six to eight weeks. That means, unless the Indians make an extended postseason run, he’s probably done for the year.
Last week the Indians were getting ready to welcome back Corey Kluber to the starting rotation. He strained an oblique muscle during a rehab start and his season could be over as well.
The Indians moved on from Kluber’s broken right forearm a long time ago. Just like they moved on from Carlos Carrasco leukemia’s diagnosis and Mike Clevinger’s strained right shoulder.
They have shown a remarkable ability to find, develop and get starting pitchers to the big leagues this season. Jefry Rodriguez, Zach Plesac, Adam Plutko and Aaron Civale are all examples. Plutko is no stranger to Tribe fans, but the others were.
But who will replace Ramirez? The Indians recalled Yu Chang from Class AAA Columbus and he started a third base Sunday against the Royals.
Chang has power, a big swing with a lot of swing and miss. His defense is so-so.
Utility man Mike Freeman should get a chance to platoon with Chang. He’s had a great year as a guy who can do a lot of things. But what happens when he gets more playing time? Will he continue to prosper or get over-exposed, something that happens to a lot of part-time players.
If the Indians have a backlog of third basemen to rival their depth of starting pitching, now would be the time to show it off. Prospect Nolan Jones, 21, is at Class AA Akron after starting the year at Class A Lynchburg. He’s hitting .278 (111-for-404) with 14 homers and 60 RBI for the year, but I’d be surprised if they rushed him to Cleveland.
Despite the losses of Kluber, Carrasco and Clevinger, the Indians continued to pitch well. Offensively, however, they struggled through much of the first half as did Ramirez. When Ramirez started to hit in late June, the offense followed and the Indians started to get serious about tracking down the first-place Minnesota Twins in the AL Central.
Here’s a reminder of what Ramirez means to the Tribe. They’re 38-7 when he drives in a run. Since the All-Star break, he ranks second in the AL with 32 extra base hits, third with 40 RBI and is tied for fourth with 13 homers.
The Indians enter tonight’s game at Detroit trailing the Twins by 3.5 games in the Central, while holding a half-game lead over Tampa Bay for the first wild card spot.
They are 46-25 since June 4. While their injured list keeps getting longer, it’s at 14 players and counting, they keep winning. They trailed the Twins by 11.5 games on June 3.
Can the Indians overcome one more critical injury?
At times like this manager Terry Francona has two favorite responses to the questions you’re asking yourself right now.
No.1 goes like this, “We’ll figure it out.”
No. 2 goes like this, “We could feel sorry for ourselves or pick this time to shine.”
The Indians are going to need positive answers to both those statements to withstand the loss of Ramirez and reach the postseason.