The Cleveland Indians are giving Jason Kipnis reps in the outfield in hopes that he can play centerfield for them in the playoffs. Kipnis has publicly stated that he is not happy with the move, but will do whatever it takes to fight for a starting role. Kipnis has primarily been a second baseman for the Indians during his tenure in Cleveland. He made his Major League debut with the Indians during the 2011 season.
Kipnis has been taking fly balls during pregame warmups in an effort to get comfortable playing out there before seeing live game action. Indians manager Terry Francona has stated that it is not a guarantee that the veteran Kipnis will earn the starting role in the outfield. Kipnis, a former All-Star has struggled this season for the first place Cleveland Indians.
Kipnis is being squeezed to the outfield so All-Star and MVP candidate Jose Ramirez can shift from third base to second base for the remainder of the season. He had this to say about the move.
“I’m not going to make it about me this year, I understand what he can bring to the table and I’m hoping he does it. I’m excited for this team and this organization. I understand where they’re coming from and I understand that I probably put us in this situation with not having the year I’m capable of having.” “It’s a little bit of cause and effect. But I’ve got a job to do. I show up every day and work hard and if that means switching positions, I’m switching positions. I look forward to most challenges. I’m excited to get going.”
The Indians acquired Josh Donaldson from the Toronto Blue Jays at the end of August, and he is expected to start at third base after being activated off of the disabled list. Donaldson is a former American League Most Valuable Player and should strengthen an already strong Cleveland Indians lineup.
Donaldson is set to be activated from the disabled list on September 11. The 2015 MVP is having a down year at the plate and has struggled with injuries for most of the season.
The Indians shifted Kipnis to the outfield in the latter part of the 2017 season, but Kipnis was recovering from an injury. Kipnis played eleven of the final twelve games of the 2017 regular season in center field for the Indians. He also started in the outfield for all five of the Indians playoff games last season.
Also Moves in Batting Order
Kipnis has been moved to the bottom of the batting order for the Indians after being a middle of the order guy for much of his career. He has played in 129 games this season, but has a batting average of just .231 entering play on Thursday. He has hit 14 home runs and driven in 60 runs for the Indians. Kipnis will be battling center fielder Cody Allen for the starting job in the playoffs. Allen doesn’t have the resume or the offensive skills that Kipnis possesses but is a much better defensive player.
The 31-year-old Kipnis appears to be turning things around at the plate but is still well below his career averages. He is hitting .253 with a .340 on-base percentage in his last 24 games. He also has five doubles and three home runs during the recent stretch.
Indians Preparing for Postseason Play
The Cleveland Indians are trying to win their first World Series title since 1948. The Indians lost a heartbreaking series against the Chicago Cubs in 2016 with Kipnis playing a vital role in that series. The Indians have a massive lead in the American League Central division and should clinch a playoff spot within a week.