Naquin’s Hamstring Sends Him to DL as Olson Returns from Paternity List

Tyler Naquin has spent much of the last month and a half trying to prove that he can be a valuable contributor on the Cleveland Indians roster, whether it be in a starting role in right field for the time being or coming off of the bench. With an increased opportunity for playing time, he has come through with a big home run earlier this week and he extended his hitting streak to a season-high eight games on Friday with another key hit in the clutch, but the latter one will cost him some playing time.

Performing at a high level with a perfect opportunity to make a case to help out the Indians throughout the season, Naquin was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Saturday morning with a left hamstring strain. He suffered the injury running the bases after his big two-run double in the Indians’ six-run fourth inning of Friday night’s 10-9 loss to the Kansas City Royals.

It is another setback for the Indians’ outfield, already down right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall, whose injury opened the door to more regular playing time for Naquin.

Naquin, 27, has been waiting for a chance to make his mark with the Indians after he failed to stick in Cleveland last year, just a season after a third place finish in the American League’s Rookie of the Year voting in 2016. Issues in the offensive and defensive aspects of his game led to a prolonged stay in the minors at Triple-A Columbus, where he also lost time with a back injury when on a hot tear at the plate.

The left-handed hitter has appeared in 30 games for the Indians this season and has been one of the club’s top hitters, putting up a .333/.367/.453 line at the plate in 79 plate appearances. Injuries to Michael Brantley first and Chisenhall later have kept a roster spot available for him and when his name has been called, he has been able to produce while filling in at all three outfield spots throughout the year. He has settled in primarily in right with Chisenhall’s calf injury leading to a prolonged absence.

He appeared in 21 games in April, hitting .294 with a .333 on-base percentage with a double and a homer scattered among his 15 hits. He has hit in every game that he has stepped to the plate in May, riding an eight-game hitting streak. He has hit safely in ten of his last eleven games with a plate appearance (he also had two late entries as a defensive replacement in that span). During his hitting streak, he has slashed .417/.440/.625 with ten hits (including two doubles and a homer) and six RBI.

Naquin left the game on Friday night after finishing his time on the bases after his two-run double gave the Indians a 5-4 lead at the time. He pulled up after rounding first base and glided into second easily with a noticeable limp and was checked out by the trainer and manager Terry Francona on the field. He stayed in the game, but was replaced in the next half inning by Brandon Guyer defensively.

After the game, Francona shared that Naquin had been sent for an MRI and that the hope was that it was just a cramp and not something more serious. Saturday morning’s read of the MRI results indicated a mild strain.

The Indians are hoping that the stint lasts just ten days, but Francona pointed out prior to Saturday’s action that he does not “think anybody ever quite knows. [Naquin] showed up today and he was a little tight.”

The injury leaves the Indians a little more thin than normal in the outfield, as Bradley Zimmer was scratched from the lineup for Saturday’s game while still dealing with the effects of a wall collision last weekend in New York.

As for Olson, he missed just one game on the paternity list for the arrival of son Maddox Ray, who made his debut Friday. He was shifted to the paternity list to make room for Andrew Miller’s return from the 10-day disabled list Friday afternoon. On the year, the new papa has appeared in 15 games, posting an 0-1 record with a 6.75 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP with 17 strikeouts and three walks in 12 innings of work.

Photo: Dylan Buell/Getty Images

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