When Cleveland Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera fractured his arm on Monday night, it added injury to injury — the Tribe suffers from “platoonism.” Look at Cleveland’s day-to-day roster and you’ll find few regulars taking to the fresh-cut grass every day. And that is a dangerous place to be for the Indians.
By Kevin Hunt
Tribe fans got two pieces of pretty bad news on Wednesday concerning two of their better and hard-working players. Cabrera is expected to be out eight-to-10 weeks after having surgery to repair a fracture in his left forearm and has already been moved to the 60-day disabled list. Outfielder Grady Sizemore, meanwhile, has his own spot on the 15-day DL after suffering a deep bone bruise in his left knee. The team’s head athletic trainer says that Sizemore, too, may need surgery.
For those of you keeping score at home, Cabrera and Sizemore have been hitting one and two, respectively, in the Cleveland lineup this year. And even the Tribe’s famous left field “drummer guy” might have a chance at breaking into the batting order by season’s end.
The open audition has already begun for the Indians. There are very few players – Shin-Soo Choo, Austin Kearns, Travis Hafner, Russell Branyan, Jhonny Peralta – who can be considered “regular” players at their positions and Hafner doesn’t even play defense. A struggling display of baseball is about all the Indians can expect to see for the remainder of the year because, unlike recent years, Cleveland has little to offer any other teams.
But there is hope. Jason Donald, just called up after Cabrera’s injury, will work every day at shortstop. He joins catcher Lou Marson as two of the four players Cleveland acquired from the Phillies in the trade that sent pitcher Cliff Lee and outfielder Ben Francisco to Philadelphia. First baseman/left fielder Matt LaPorta has already gotten plenty of playing time since coming to the Indians when trading CC Sabathia to the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008. And with Sizemore out, farm product Trevor Crowe will be the everyday lead-off man playing center field.
The Indians have few pieces to offer any other team at the trading deadline and, let’s face it, they wouldn’t get anything except more prospects anyway. At some point in time, the team needs to take a “show up or get cut” attitude with their prospects. Either the guys you have can produce or they can’t. If there’s a bright side to all of this, there’s no better time for manager Manny Acta to see what he has than when injuries give him no other option.
For all you casual baseball fans, don’t even try to learn the names of the Indians players over the next five weeks. There’s a good chance they won’t be near the field by the end of that stretch anyway. But Cleveland’s future depends on these “no namers” getting reps, showing what they have and trying all they can to find a regular spot and cure the Tribe’s platoonism.