Shin-Soo Choo had to leave last night’s game with the Royals due to a tight hamstring. The injury isn’t considered serious and Choo and he will be re-evaluated by the Indians prior to Wednesday’s game.
“We tried to give him 48 hours straight,” Acta explained. “He slid head-first a couple of times over in Seattle and jammed his wrist a little bit. We decided that with the day off [on Monday] and a left-handed pitcher [Jonathan Sanchez] pitching today, it was perfect for him to get the day off. He’s playing [Wednesday]
“He was fine to play. He could’ve started the game. We decided to give him the day off so he could have 48 hours and probably get it out of the way and not have it linger.”
Johnny Damon is progressing through his workouts in Arizona but has yet to be sent out on an official minor-league assignment and does have an out clause that allows him to opt-out of his contract if not on the Major League roster by May 1st.
With Brantley hurting and Damon presumably not yet ready to play, if Choo is out of the lineup for five games or more the Indians would have to play short-handed in the outfield until either Choo or Damon is ready to return. Unless the Indians make a roster move today involving Jose Lopez.
Lopez has started just four games for the Indians this season (two at first base, one at third base, and one as the DH) and has hit .176 (3-for-17) with an OPS of only .588. He doesn’t provide the Indians with any added flexibility on the roster in terms of outfield help, and outside of playing first base he doesn’t give them any depth in the infield that they don’t already get from Jason Donald.
Lopez seems to be the most likely candidate to be removed from the 25-man roster when Damon is activated in the coming weeks anyway, so the prudent move for the Indians is to add an outfielder to the roster now to allow Acta to give Choo the proper time to heal and to give the roster needed over the next week.
There are several outfield candidates available in Columbus who are already on the 40-man roster. Matt LaPorta has played four games in left field and is currently hitting .364/.427/.467 with five home runs to date. Ezequiel Carrera has started 17 games in center plus one in left and is currently hitting .259/.307/.370 with six stolen bases. Russ Canzler has started six games in left, though he is off to a slow start.
Or, if Choo’s hamstring injury results in a trip to the disabled list the Indians could add another outfielder to the 40-man roster. There are several candidates playing in Columbus who could then help the Indians. Trevor Crowe is currently hitting .370/.444/.593 with an impressive K/BB ratio of 10/8. Ryan Spilborghs is currently hitting .255/.369/.364, and Chad Huffman has an impressive .286/.362/.571 line so far.
It remains to be seen whether such a move will be necessary—hopefully Choo won’t be gone for too long. But the Indians should be prepared to increase their outfield depth if he’ll be out of commission for more than a game or two.