Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor had been working his way back from a calf injury and was looking to return to the lineup as close to the start of the season as possible, but he suffered a setback with a different leg injury, the Indians have announced. While baserunning during a minor-league spring training game on Tuesday, Lindor suffered an acute ankle sprain.
The club also announced that Lindor has had an MRI and will seek a second opinion. Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com has the details:
Lindor will travel to Green Bay, Wis. on Monday to get his ankle examined by Dr. Robert Anderson, a specialist in the field. It's unclear just how serious Lindor's latest leg injury is.
"The way it has been explained to me," said manager Terry Francona, "is they know what he hurt and where he hurt it and all this. The challenge is – and they've had some experience with Michael Brantley – is it doesn't hurt that much. But if you re-injure it, it can really set you back."
Lindor finished sixth in the AL MVP voting last season when he hit .277/.352/.519 with 38 homers, 42 doubles, 92 RBI, 129 runs, 25 steals, a 7.9 WAR and 12 defensive runs saved at shortstop. Basically, he's great at everything and entering his age-25 season.
Cleveland has started the season with Eric Stamets and Max Moroff at shortstop. Stamets, 27, made his MLB debut Opening Day. In 78 games in Triple-A last season, he hit .202/.272/.324 and he slashed .220/.360/.366 in the spring. Moroff is a career .193/.293/.331 hitter in 84 MLB games coming into this season.
These are the Indians' options instead of one of baseball's best players.
We don't yet know the timetable for a Lindor return, but he's a gigantic loss, and the Indians have not gone into detail about what type of sprain Lindor is dealing with. Per a medical source, a lateral ankle sprain is as tolerated, but can take 2-3 weeks or longer depending on the severity of the sprain. Medial ankle sprains are worse, probably 3-6 weeks sidelined. Syndesmotic sprains (high ankle sprains) can be longer -- 4-8 weeks -- especially if it's a severe sprain.
When the Indians are healthy, there will be a ton of offensive burden on Jose Ramirez and Lindor. If Lindor misses something like six weeks, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Indians under .500, even in that awful division.