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Corey Kluber returns to the rotation

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Also, a look at what will happen once Lonnie Chisenhall is cleared to play

Oakland Athletics v Cleveland Indians Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Transactions

May 26

Activated OF Austin Jackson from the 10-day Disabled List (replacing Lonnie Chisenhall on 25-man roster

June 1

Activated RHP Corey Kluber from the 10-day Disabled List

Optioned RHP Shawn Armstrong to Columbus (AAA)

Transferred OF Lonnie Chisenhall from the 7-day Concussion Disabled List to the 10-day Disabled List (retro May 23)

Lonnie Chisenhall and the outfield

I did miss the move that shifted Lonnie Chisenhall from the 7-day concussion DL to the 10-day DL in the chart above. I think a player who stays on the 7-day DL the entire seven days and has not yet been cleared to play must be moved to one of the other Disabled Lists (10-day or 60-day) The language in the official MLB glossary entry on the 7-day DL states that:

Baseball instituted the shorter version of the DL to prevent a player with concussion symptoms from being rushed back before he is ready, while also allowing a player who passes concussion tests to return after only seven days rather than 15.

It’s not entirely clear about any limitations for a stay on the DL, but the idea was to have a shorter DL so that players with a possible concussion are encouraged to be held out of action. So perhaps that means that the 7 days is a hard limit. Chisenhall has been out of action 10 days, so if he would pass all necessary tests today, in theory he could be in the lineup tonight. The Indians do face a left-hander tonight (Jason Vargas) and on Sunday (Eric Skoglund), so perhaps the Indians will wait until Tuesday’s game in Colorado to activate him.

When the Indians do activate Chisenhall, they have two options for clearing a spot on the 25-man roster. The obvious move would be designating Daniel Robertson for assignment, as he’s played outfield during Chisenhall’s absence. They could also option Erik Gonzalez to Columbus, which would then make Robertson a backup infielder.

The argument for keeping Robertson on the 25-man roster: he has almost no major-league appearances in the infield, but he has played second base in the minors (and in spring training), and with the four starting infielders almost never getting a day off, he wouldn’t need to play that much infield. Terry Francona has given every starting infielder either a complete day off or a day as DH in the past week, but you aren’t going to sit Lindor or Kipnis or Ramirez or Encarnacion once a week if you can help it. Gonzalez is the superior player, but given the role the backup infielder has on this roster (making a start perhaps every other week), it would make more sense for Robertson to fill it than Gonzalez, who has a potential to be an everyday player some day. Plus if the Indians do designate Robertson, they could lose him permanently, and with both Brandon Guyer and Abraham Almonte a ways away from returning, you’d rather not lose an outfielder from the organization if you can help it.

The argument for keeping Gonzalez on the 25-man roster is this: he’s out of options after this season, so now’s the time to see what he can do at the major-league level. And if he impresses, then not only will that give the Indians a viable option in case one of the infielders is injured, but also increases Gonzalez’s trade value both for the July trade deadline or the off-season. His presence on the roster will allow Francona to feel comfortable giving a player a day off if he’s a little sore, rather than having to wait for a DL stint to get a competent infielder onto the roster. If Robertson is claimed on waivers and the Indians need an outfielder, Tyler Naquin is now off soon to be off the AAA Disabled List, or they could call up Richie Shaffer with the vacant 40-man roster spot.

Corey Kluber and the rotation

With Kluber’s return to the rotation (and what a return it was!), Danny Salazar has been moved to the bullpen. He appeared in yesterday’s game, pitching one inning, but at the same time, the Indians will need to keep him ready to return to the rotation if the need arises.

The upcoming schedule is going to be tricky to navigate. First comes a cluster of three off-days, all coming within the span of 8 days, then later in the month the Indians will play 22 games in 20 days. Corey Kluber will not make his next scheduled start (June 7) because they don’t want him swinging the bat so soon after returning from the Disabled List. Perhaps that means Salazar will start in place of Kluber, or maybe they’ll start Josh Tomlin on normal rest. Regardless, Salazar would be in line to start the doubleheader games (June 17, July 1), and that’s assume he wouldn’t already have returned to the rotation if there’s an injury. So while Salazar is now out of the rotation, there are going to be many opportunities for him to return over the coming month.