Indians Activate Lindor, Designate Hanley Ramirez for Assignment

Rain in northeast Ohio on Friday delayed the return of Francisco Lindor to the Cleveland Indians’ 25-man roster, while also giving the club a little more time to determine which player would be removed from the squad to make room for the three-time All-Star’s return from the 10-day injured list.

The Indians announced their decision on Saturday morning, as the team has elected to designate 35-year-old designated hitter Hanley Ramirez for assignment.

Lindor missed all of Major League spring training and Cactus League play after reporting to Goodyear, Arizona, with a right calf sprain. Given a time table of seven to nine weeks to recover, he had made his way into action on the minor league side of camp in mid-March when he sprained his left ankle, causing him to be shut back down while undergoing further evaluation.

Lindor returned to professional game action this week when he reported to Triple-A Columbus for a rehab assignment. He joined the Clippers in Louisville, Kentucky, and appeared in three games of the series against the Bats and performed well, hitting .417 with a double, two solo homers, and a walk. He arrived back in Cleveland on Friday and was checked out by the training staff, which gave him the thumbs up to be activated after a notably short rehab stint.

The Indians offense has been suffering without the potential contributions that Lindor can make. Last season, he appeared in 158 games and provided a .277/.352/.519 slash with 42 doubles, two triples, 38 homers, and 92 RBI. He was named an All-Star for the third straight season, won his second consecutive Silver Slugger Award, and finished sixth in the American League’s Most Valuable Player voting (his third straight top ten finish).

H. Ramirez – Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Lindor is not in the starting lineup for the first game of the team’s doubleheader on Saturday afternoon with the Atlanta Braves. Manager Terry Francona shared prior to the game that Lindor will spend some time in the DH role to ease him back into playing after his short rehab assignment. He will continue to wear a left ankle splint, as he did during his rehab appearances.

Cleveland’s short relationship with Ramirez came to a surprise close as the offense has struggled to put up runs consistently, with the veteran serving as one of the top run producers in the lineup through the first 18 games of the schedule. Ramirez hit a pair of homers and a double while driving in eight runs in 16 games in his 15th big league season, but committing a roster spot to a DH-only player had limited the Indians ability to build a more versatile roster.

At times, Ramirez looked easily overmatched at the plate, despite owning the two hardest hit home runs in the Statcast era of data collection by an Indians player. In 16 games, he hit .184 with a .298 on-base percentage, but he hit just .172 with men on base and .176 with runners in scoring position. Buried in 1-2 counts, he struck out in six of the eight at bats. He was a late starter in ball games, getting just one hit in 14 plate appearances with seven strikeouts in his first at bat against an opposing starter. He crushed power pitchers, going 3-for-5 against them with three walks and two strikeouts, but finesse-style pitchers and balanced pitchers limited him to .156 and .083 marks, respectively, over a total of 49 plate appearances.

Ramirez hit .239 in the spring with eleven hits (including three doubles and two homers) and eight RBI before claiming the final spot on the 25-man roster. The Indians waited until the end of camp to make a determination on him so as to get as many looks at him at the plate as possible. His bat speed was a plus, but his swing was a focal point of the Tribe staff still at the end of Cactus League play. With Ramirez supplying just a .184/.298/.327 line at the plate with 17 strikeouts in 57 trips, the Indians felt that other options on the roster or down in Columbus could put up more for less. He was in town on a $1 million contract signed in late February.

With the removal of Ramirez from the roster, the Indians now have 39 players on the 40-man roster (with two players on the 60-day injured list). The Indians have seven days to trade Ramirez, release him, or place him on irrevocable waivers.

Photo: Bob Levey/Getty Images

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