CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Indians third baseman Josh Donaldson struggled through calf issues for much of the 2018 regular season, but a trade to Cleveland from the Toronto Blue Jays gave him a plan and a purpose.
Going from a non-playoff team in Toronto to a team in the Indians with World Series aspirations, Donaldson continued to work through his injury issues, went through minor-league rehab assignments, and is now set to start Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park today.
“I think motivation-wise was just to get out there and be healthy again and be able to prove that I still have a lot of quality time left in the game, and I can help a team -- I can get to the postseason, win in the postseason,” Donaldson said on the eve of the postseason opener for the Indians.
In 16 games for the Indians, Donaldson had 14 hits in 50 at-bats with three doubles, three home runs, eight runs scored and seven RBI. Additionally, Donaldson registered 10 walks against 10 strikeouts in 60 plate appearances.
Donaldson had a .280 batting average, .400 on-base, .520 slugging and .920 on-base-plus slugging percentages.
“There was definitely a time period where I didn’t know if I was going to be able to come back at all,” said Donaldson, the 2015 American League Most Valuable Player. “You know, from something that developed as a small strain, most likely, and going through a rehab process with our rehab facility people, and then, having a Grade 3 sprain, which is a tear of the tendon, and then, actually garnering another strain on the outside part of my calf as well.
“Going through that process, and then, injuring it the way that I did and to the extreme that I did, I definitely didn’t know if I was going to make it back this season, but I was trying to do everything possible that I could, and I feel very fortunate and blessed to be in the position that I am right now and to, hopefully, help these guys achieve their ultimate goal.”
The trade to the Indians offered Donaldson a chance to get back to the postseason for the first time since back-to-back trips with the Blue Jays in 2015 and 2016.
A .292 hitter in 31 postseason games, Donaldson has 35 hits, including 10 doubles and four home runs, 13 RBI and 17 runs scored in five playoff appearances.
“It’s going to be emotional,” Donaldson said. “You’re going to have adrenaline going. Everybody’s going to be excited. I think what you garner from being there before is learning how to harness it and use it for good and understanding that there’s going to be ebbs and flows to each game.
“They’re going to make some runs. We’re going to make some runs. And it’s try not to get too high or too low during those runs and staying focused on -- especially these guys -- what got them there and what makes this team successful. That’s having quality at-bats, making quality pitches, and going out there and competing to the final out.”