Trey Mancini is testing his right knee today by performing baseball activities on the field, and he’s hoping to get back into the lineup Tuesday night against the Rays at Camden Yards.
Mancini said the knee no longer hurts when he walks and there’s just a hint of stiffness, but nothing that suggests a longer stint on the bench.
“We’ll have a good feel after BP about how close he is, and even his availability tonight,” said manager Buck Showalter.
Mancini will return to his role as leadoff hitter. No reason to move him down.
“That would be my plan coming back,” Showalter said. “There’s nothing on paper that seems to be a better option than him.
“Trey’s the type of guy who could hit in a lot of places in the order. They’re hard to find. He’s a hitter. Takes the ball the other way, he doesn’t carry over at-bats, when he’s going good he’s swinging at strikes. He’s not going to clog up the bases. He runs the bases well.
“I was hoping to be able to hit him somewhere else this year if I could, but I think he has a chance to be a little more RBI productive, too.”
Jonathan Schoop, on the disabled list with a strained right oblique, is running and throwing today while reporting improvement in his condition.
“That’s a first big step for him,” Showalter said. “I’m hoping we get good news back on that today. He and Trey. That would be nice. We need them, we need them.”
Said Schoop: “I feel good right now. That’s a good sign. I feel good, I feel stronger. I’m going to test it out today.
“I’ve been doing rehab already, treatment and exercises for it. I’ve run in the pool already and it was good. But I’m going out today to see. Hopefully, everything will be good.”
Obliques are tricky because any sort of activity can cause a setback, “but I’m pretty confident that I’m good,” Schoop said.
“I hope this feels good today and I’ll be back soon.”
Mark Trumbo is playing first base tonight at Double-A Bowie as he starts his rehab assignment. He’s supposed to play right field on Tuesday and serve as designated hitter on Wednesday.
Colby Rasmus (hip) played catch from 120 feet today in Sarasota and did agility and trunk exercises. He could begin swinging a bat by the end of the week.
Chris Davis has been ill, but he continues to play and Showalter said he’s noticed better at-bats from the first baseman.
“I know one time I was trying to talk to him down in the runway and he couldn’t hear. His ears were stopped up,” Showalter said.
“He knows nobody is going to feel sorry for him, but he’s not the only one. There are guys who come in here every day with different things, but so are other clubs. Teams in first place have that going on, too. You guys have it going on and ladies have it going on in your life every day. You’ve got to post up and do things. But there’s a respect everybody has for that.
“Show me the W, OK?”
Left-hander Chris Lee threw 3 2/3 innings and 59 pitches today at extended spring training as he works toward a return from an oblique injury. He’s scheduled to go five innings on Saturday and report to an affiliate, where he’ll probably be used as a starter.
I wrote earlier that closer Zach Britton did more fielding drills before batting practice. They continue to bring positive results and he should be nearing a full mound session.
Showalter won’t harp on injuries as a reason for the club’s poor start.
“That’s not a topic of conversation in our clubhouse,” he said. “It’s not a topic that’s a woe is me. Actually, it’s a poor reflection on some of the guys that are trying to help us compete while we’re waiting for some people to come back. There’s a great opportunity here for some people that are trying to take advantage of it, mostly because we have a need.
“You know what happens with things like that? If you start looking at them like, ‘Oh gosh, everything’s going to be all right when this happens and that happens and that happens,’ you plug one hole and another one opens up. That’s why your depth is so important during the season. I think the Yankees already have placed three or four pitchers on the DL. Everybody, if you really go down each club.
“Coming into this series, Cleveland had a worse team batting average than we did and I think they’re going to be OK. They’re one of the tougher teams to match up with pitching-wise. And our guys have done a good job with it. I think our starting pitching is going to be very competitive before it’s all over. Not that it hasn’t been.”
Showalter notes that the effort isn’t lacking, just the results. And some guys are pressing, which happens during these collective slumps.
“It’s hard to say, ‘Hey, try less,’” he said. “They live in a world where they push, they push, they push, they push. And believe me, we’ve tried a lot of different things where you back off, you don’t take batting practice at all. If I told you all the different things that are going on to try to jump-start some of this ...
“We continue to talk about how good of pitching we’re facing, I think is, I don’t want to say an ‘excuse,’ I just don’t think it’s a good narrative. It’s obvious, but these guys are pitching against everybody.
“I was talking about Chance (Sisco) about it yesterday. Sometimes, young players can get bogged down into thinking Sandy Koufax is pitching every night. You go through periods where you feel that way and then you go through periods where the ball looks like a basketball, the game slows down, you seem to be getting every mistake thrown to you and you’re hitting it and all of a sudden it just all slows down. So, you try not to let, especially young players, get bogged down into thinking that something’s going on that they ...
“I remember the first time I was in a position where I went, ‘I’m not sure if I can do this.’ The first time I saw Mark Langston’s slider, the first time I saw ... I can give you 10 guys. And I’m kind of going, ‘Hmm, I wonder if they’ve got a coaching opening anywhere.’ These guys haven’t had that and shouldn’t. They’re too talented. Then I found out that not everybody had Mark Langston’s slider. Because that’s what happens. You see three guys like that in a row and you’re going, ‘Hey Dad, don’t sell the mules. I’ll be home shortly, be back in the soybean field.’ You try to keep that in mind, the things that they’re thinking and the things that they’re going through.”
Here are the starters for the Rays series at Camden Yards:
Tuesday: Alex Cobb vs. Jake Faria
Wednesday: Dylan Bundy vs. Chris Archer
Thursday: Chris Tillman vs. TBD
Here’s the Indians lineup:
Francisco Lindor SS
Jason Kipnis 2B
José Ramírez 3B
Michael Brantley LF
Edwin Encarnacion DH
Yonder Alonso 1B
Yan Gomes C
Bradley Zimmer CF
Brandon Guyer RF
Carlos Carrasco RHP
Update: Yonder Alonso hit a two-run homer off Kevin Gausman in the second inning to give the Indians a 2-0 lead. Gausman has thrown 36 pitches.