The Cleveland Indians have announced that injured second baseman Jason Kipnis, who has been rehabbing his way across Ohio over the last two weeks, will make his return to the team Sunday to face the New York Yankees.
They also specifically noted that he’ll be playing second base in the announcement tweet, which seems like an odd thing to point out unless it’s just a note that he’ll be starting. So I’m going to go with that.
Kipnis had a late start to the 2017 season as he missed the first month with a shoulder injury. Between his debut on April 21 and eventual placement on the disabled list for the second time on July 8, Kip was in the midst of a disappointing campaign. He slashed .232/.292/.402 in 283 plate appearances, which would equal a career-worst 81 wRC+ over a full season.
It wasn’t all bad, though, and Kipnis was showing signs of improvement later in his stint. From June onward he was slashing .237/.328/.404, and he was riding a three-game hitting streak before a strained hamstring sidelined him for nearly a month. Not outstanding numbers, and still good for a wRC+ of only 94, but an improvement, nonetheless.
The only thing we don’t know yet is what roster move will come along with his activation. Earlier today the Indians recalled Abraham Almonte and demoted Adam Plutko, but that doesn’t help our Kipnis scenario much. It likely means either the end of Erik Gonzalez as a backup infielder (as he was primarily playing second to cover for Kipnis), or it could mean Giovanny Urshela is sent down (he was covering third occasionally, with Jose Ramirez shifting to second). We’ll find out tomorrow.