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Brother, can you spare an outfielder?

Lonnie Chisenhall becomes the fifth outfielder currently on the disabled list.

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Houston Astros
The play that caused Chisenhall’s concussion
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

In the black comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets, a minor noble schemes to knock off the eight people ahead of him in line (all played by Alec Guiness) for a dukedom and covering his tracks by staging them all as outlandish “accidents”. There is no foul play in this series of coincidental injuries to five Tribe outfielders, but those injuries have led to a rather unlikely trio of healthy outfielders, including a long-time starter who, it had been feared, would not be the same after his 2015 shoulder injury.

Right now, the only three healthy outfielders on the 40-man roster are Michael Brantley, Bradley Zimmer, and Daniel Robertson, with the last two not being added to the roster until this month. The good news is that Austin Jackson could be ready to return this weekend, and Tyler Naquin a bit behind him.

Here’s a quick overview of the injured outfielders and their time frame for returning:

  • Austin Jackson (toe) - was supposed to play last night in Columbus, but the game was rained out. Would be the obvious choice to replace Lonnie Chisenhall on the 25-man roster, even though the Indians would rather have him complete his rehab assignment, as he’s getting some time in right field, a position he hasn’t played a lot of.
  • Tyler Naquin (back) - was rehabbing in Cleveland this week. He hasn’t played in a game since May 2, so he’ll probably need to play in at least in at least a couple minor-league games before he’s an option for the majors. Note that he’s on the minor-league Disabled List, so no need for a formal rehab assignment.
  • Brandon Guyer (wrist) - out at least another couple of weeks.
  • Abraham Almonte (bicep) - out at least another month. Keep in mind that the Indians can option him to the minors.
  • Lonnie Chisenhall (concussion) - He would be eligible to return on May 30, so perhaps he’ll be ready to return before Naquin.

If the Indians really want Austin Jackson to get one more start in Columbus, they have an interesting roster decision to make. They could call up either Yandy Diaz or Giovanny Urshela for a day, then reinstate Jackson in time for Saturday’s game (the Royals are sending a left-handed starter to the mound). I don’t think they’d burn a 40-man roster on someone like Richie Shaffer just to cover themselves for a day or two. I think they’ll end up having Jackson replacing Chisenhall tonight, and give him the everyday job in right field until either Chisenhall or Naquin is healthy again.

In non-outfielder news, Corey Kluber is set to start tonight in Columbus, and if everything goes well, would be in line to return to the Indians on Wednesday (May 31). Not coincidentally, Mike Clevinger, who Kluber is probably going to replace in the rotation, is starting tonight for the Indians. Sending Clevinger to the minors is going to be a rather unpleasant thing to do, especially after how well he’s pitched, but unless the Indians want to move one of the other starters to the bullpen, that’s what’s going to happen.


May 22

Sent RHP Carlos Frias outright to Columbus (AAA)

May 25

Placed OF Lonnie Chisenhall on the 7-day (concussion) Disabled List, retro to May 23