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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Indians 2B Jason Kipnis practicing in CF with Zimmer out

Jason Kipnis

The hand injury to Bradley Zimmer has opened up a spot in center field for the Cleveland Indians, and the team is considering multiple options to fill the spot. One idea they’re entertaining is playing second baseman Jason Kipnis in center.

Kipnis is on the DL recovering from a hamstring injury that’s kept him out since Aug. 22. He typically plays second, but since his injury Jose Ramirez moved to second and Yandy Diaz has been playing third. Cleveland is in the middle of an 18-game winning streak, so you can understand why they would want to keep the infield the way it is. That led the Indians to consider playing Kipnis in center.

“We might play him out there a little bit just to see how he does,” manager Terry Francona said Monday, via MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. “If he’s able to handle it, all of a sudden you go from moving somebody out of the infield — because we’ve got a really good thing going there — to adding his bat in the lineup in center field. So again, it’s not a lock. But the fact that he was willing to try it is really meaningful to us.”

Kipnis played outfield in college and a little in the minors, though he’s primarily been an infielder for around 8 years. He says he’s joked with teammates in the past about being the best center fielder on the team.

Rookie Greg Allen was in center to start Monday’s game, a day after he replaced Zimmer following the outfielder’s injury suffered against Baltimore. Lonnie Chisenhall has been playing left and Jay Bruce in right. The other options for center include Austin Jackson, Tyler Naquin, Abraham Almonte and Brandon Guyer.

Francona should have no shortage of choices in center.

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