The Cleveland Indians activated outfielder Tyler Naquin on Tuesday afternoon ahead of their three-game season-changing home set with the Minnesota Twins.
In a corresponding move, starting pitcher Jefry Rodriguez landed on the 10-day injured list with a right shoulder strain and upper back discomfort suffered during his last start on Saturday. The move was made retroactive to Sunday, June 2.
The 28-year-old Naquin had been inactive since straining his left calf on May 10 in Oakland. He landed on the injured list on May 14 and kicked off a rehab assignment at Double-A Akron on May 26. He went 0-for-2 in limited work in his first game against the Richmond Flying Squirrels, but followed it up with a 1-for-3 effort with a double and a strikeout the next day.
Naquin’s rehab assignment transferred to Columbus for four games and he put up three two-hit contests in that stretch. He singled and homered at Norfolk on May 29 in a 2-for-4 day, then went 2-for-5 on May 30 with a triple, a homer, and three RBI. He remained with the team for their road set against Durham, going 0-for-4 on June 1 before putting up another two-hit game with a double, a homer, and two more RBI on June 2.
He went 7-for-23 (.304) during the rehab assignment with two doubles, a triple, three homers, and six RBI while striking out five times and walking none in 23 plate appearances.
Naquin has appeared in 30 games this season for Cleveland, posting a .278/.316/.378 slash with six doubles, one homer, and ten RBI while stealing three bases in three attempts. Injured list trips have been a frequent occurrence for him in recent years, as he missed time last season with two lengthy injured list stints with a left hamstring strain and a right hip strain.
Naquin joins a very crowded outfield mix that includes Greg Allen, Jake Bauers, Jordan Luplow, Leonys Martin, and Oscar Mercado. With Rodriguez expected to miss at least a couple of starts, one of these players will likely find himself off of the 25-man roster to make room for a pitcher to take Rodriguez’s next start. Because of Monday’s off day, the Indians will not need a starter until Saturday.
The 25-year-old Rodriguez left after four innings against the Chicago White Sox on Saturday. He had allowed just one run on two hits, walking three and striking out three, but the team noticed a dip in his velocity and got him out of the game.
“I thought he competed like he always does. He lost the plate a little bit with his fastball. To his credit, he really spun his breaking ball better than we’ve probably seen,” said Indians manager Terry Francona after Saturday’s contest with Chicago. “But then we saw his velocity click down a couple. He had some shoulder tightness. He wanted to pitch like crazy and he fought us on it.”
Rodriguez underwent an MRI and an examination on Monday after the team returned to Cleveland following their road trip. The results confirmed a “subscapularis strain” behind the right shoulder. A press release from the Indians indicated that he would be reevaluated in two weeks and is not expected to throw for two to three weeks.
Rodriguez is 1-5 in eight starts for the Indians this season with a 4.74 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP. He is the second pitcher to land on the injured list for the Indians in the past week, following Dan Otero’s placement on June 2 (retroactive to May 31) with right shoulder inflammation.
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