CLEVELAND – The injury to outfielder Shin-Soo Choo is more serious than expected.
Choo was officially placed on the disabled list Sunday with a sprained right thumb, the Indians recalling outfielder Michael Brantley from Triple-A Columbus to replace him on the 25-man roster.
Though the Indians did not disclose a timetable for his return, Choo told several teammates in the clubhouse prior to the game that he would be sidelined for 6-8 weeks.
Initially, the Indians did not think Choo was a candidate for the injured list.
“We don’t know exactly how long he will be out,” said Cleveland manager Manny Acta. “It’s obviously serious, more serious than we thought. He’s going to be looked at again Tuesday and evaluated. Surgery is a possibility.”
Acta was asked if the potential surgery would end Choo’s year.
“I don’t think it will be season-ending, but he probably wouldn’t be back until the last month of the season,” he said.
It is the latest injury blow to the last-place Indians, who have begun to play better but now have the top three hitters in their opening-day lineup – Asdrubal Cabrera, Grady Sizemore and Choo – on the DL.
Choo is hitting .286 with a team-leading 13 home runs, 43 RBIs and 12 stolen bases. His .390 on-base percentage ranked 10th in the American League through Saturday.
“It’s tough for the club but mainly for him, because he was on his way to having a very good season,” Acta said. “He was leading the club in just about every category. It’s going to be tough for one guy to come in here and take over for Choo. He was doing everything for us.”
Brantley is expected to replace Trevor Crowe in the leadoff spot and in center field until Choo mends. He filled both spots Sunday, while Crowe moved to left field and hit eighth. Austin Kearns replaced Choo in right.
Brantley, Cleveland’s opening-day starter in left field, made the most of his time at Columbus, batting .315 with three homers, 26 RBIs and 47 runs in 59 games since his demotion April 19. He was recently named to the International League All-Star team.
Catcher Carlos Santana hasn’t made many mistakes since being promoted from the minors, but he made a mental one Sunday.
With two outs in the sixth inning, Santana caught a strike on a 2-1 pitch to Jack Cust and headed to the dugout with the ball, mistakenly thinking Fausto Carmona had recorded a strikeout.
An embarrassed Santana never made it to the dugout, turning around and trotting back onto the field. Cust wound up walking.
The Indians finish the first half of the season on the road, beginning a seven-game trip tonight in Texas at 8:05.
Aaron Laffey (1-2, 5.55 ERA) opens the set, opposing RHP Omar Beltre (0-0, 6.75), while Justin Masterson (3-7, 4.85) goes Tuesday (8:05 p.m.) against LHP C.J. Wilson (6-4, 3.34).
Mitch Talbot (8-7, 3.86) starts the series finale Wednesday (8:05 p.m.), while the Rangers counter with RHP Colby Lewis (7-5, 3.35).
The Indians play a four-game series in Tampa Bay before the All-Star break.
Demoted second baseman Luis Valbuena hit his second homer for Columbus in the Clippers’ 7-1 victory over Toledo on Saturday. Valbuena entered Sunday batting .294 (10-for-34) with two doubles, a triple, two homers and seven RBIs in eight games since being sent down.
** Josh Tomlin got the win for Columbus, working seven scoreless innings while allowing four hits and striking out six. The right-hander is making a strong push to make his major league debut at some point this season, going 8-2 with a 2.45 ERA in 17 games (14 starts) for the Clippers.
The Indians extended their streak of consecutive games with an extra-base hit to 30, which is the longest streak by an AL team this season.
** The homer Carmona allowed to Adam Rosales in the seventh inning was the first allowed by a Cleveland pitcher in 62 innings. It also snapped the 83-inning homerless streak at home, which is the longest by the Indians since a 93-inning stretch in 1991.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org.