Although he'll be starting the season on the 10-day injured list, Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor figured to be making his 2019 debut sooner rather than later.
Those plans, however, may have just changed.
On Wednesday, the Indians announced that the 3-time All-Star suffered an "acute ankle sprain" while running the bases during a minor league game. Lindor has undergone an MRI for the injury with a time frame for his return yet to be determined.
As recently as earlier this week, Lindor appeared to be making significant progress in his recovery from the calf strain he endured prior to the start of Spring Training, as it appeared he wouldn't miss much more than the first week of the regular season. The 2-time Silver Slugger had hit a home run in an Indians' minor league game on Tuesday, but later suffered his potential setback while caught in a rundown during the contest.
Should Lindor miss extended time to start the season, it would be a significant blow to an Indians team coming off an offseason in which it lost All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley in free agency and traded designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion. In 2018, Lindor hit for a .277 average and career highs of 38 home runs and 92 RBIs, tying fellow All-Star Jose Ramirez for a team-best WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of 7.9.
In Lindor's place, Eric Stamets will get the start at shortstop for the Indians on when they open their 2019 season on the road against the Minnesota Twins on Thursday. Having spent the past 3.5 years in Cleveland's minor league system, the Dublin, Ohio, native will be making his Major League debut/
"He catches everything in sight," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Stamets last week. "When you're trying to replace somebody at shortstop -- you don't replace a Lindor. There's only one of him. But it's nice to know that when the ball's hit, you're out. Especially with our pitching staff.
"The hitting is still a work-in-progress. If it wasn't, he'd be a Major League star, he's so good defensively."
First pitch between the Indians and Twins from Target Field on Thursday is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. ET.