CLEVELAND - Jason Kipnis is nearing a return to the Cleveland Indians lineup after suffering a strained right hamstring late last month.
And when Kipnis rejoins the Tribe's lineup, he'll likely do so at a new position.
Indians manager Terry Francona revealed on Monday that Kipnis will likely see time at centerfield, rather than his traditional position of second base. Francona's comments came just hours after it was reported that rookie centerfielder Bradley Zimmer will miss the remainder of the season with a broken hand.
“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,” Francona said.
Appearing in 79 games this season, Kipnis has hit for a career-low .228 average, along with 11 home runs and 30 runs batted in. In his absence, All-Star Jose Ramirez has slid from third base to second, with Giovanny Urshela and Yandy Diaz sharing responsibilities at third.
The Indians are currently in the midst of an 18-game winning streak, which began the day after Kipnis hit the disabled list.
But with the Indians now possessing an unexpected opening in the outfield, Kipnis, a 2-time All-Star, no longer looks like a potential odd man out. And while no date has officially been set for Kipnis' return, it sounds as though it will be sooner rather than later.
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