September 2, 2014

Medina
Intermittent clouds
69°F

Bad break for Donald: Third baseman has crack in finger, will miss opener

TEMPE, Ariz. – Jason Donald is out and Jack Hannahan is more than likely in.

Donald, who was in line to open the season as the Indians’ starting third baseman when training camp began, will be sidelined until April after a C-T scan revealed a crack in his left middle finger.

That means he won’t be available for the season opener April 1 and the Indians have to find a new third baseman.

“It’s going to come from Hannahan, (Jayson) Nix and (Luis) Valbuena. Those are the candidates,” manager Manny Acta said.

Hannahan, a free-agent signing under a minor league contract, has fared much better this spring than the other two candidates both in the field and at the plate. He is hitting .400 (14-for-35) with four doubles and four RBIs and has looked smooth with the glove at third base.

“Jack Hannahan’s had a good camp so far,” Acta said of the 31-year-old infielder, who has spent the majority of his two-year big league career at third base. “He’s played third base in the past. He certainly has played very well in camp. He’s always been regarded as a very good defensive player, and he’s shown that in camp.”

The Indians could turn to the organization’s top prospect, Lonnie Chisenhall, who had an impressive camp before being reassigned to minor league camp, but with Donald expected to return sometime in mid-April, Acta said that wasn’t an option.

“Why would you bring him up here for a week or two?” Acta said. “He’s not finished with his development, simple as that. We’re not going to make a knee-jerk reaction over spring training.”

Donald played in six exhibition games before sustaining the injury March 5, when he was hit on his left hand by a pitch against the White Sox.

He missed five games before returning to the lineup for two games, then was scratched after an MRI revealed a bone bruise on the hand. Donald was expected to miss three more games, but was not progressing sufficiently so the Indians finally deciding to send him for a C-T scan.

The C-T scan saw what an MRI and fluoroscope didn’t – a crack in the left middle finger that was at the root of the problem.

“It’s one of those things,” Donald said. “Looking back, it does make sense, the pain I was feeling. I’m glad we finally figured it out. It gives us a plan, instead of just being in limbo.

“It is a little disappointing, but I’m looking ahead. It’s just a minor bump in the road. I’m just focusing on resting it, getting it healthy and getting it ready for the season.”

Donald will not participate in baseball activities over the next week before returning to the field with hopes of beginning a minor league rehab assignment in early April.

“The C-T scan shows early signs of healing. That’s a positive,” Cleveland’s head trainer Lonnie Soloff said.

If Hannahan is the choice to replace Donald at third, the Indians will have to clear a spot for him on the 40-man roster. They may have to orchestrate the same transaction for veteran Adam Everett, who, if Hannahan is the starter at third, will be vying with Valbuena and Nix for the utility infielder spot.

Everett, who left the Indians’ exhibition win Saturday over the Angels with a thumb injury, is also under a minor league contract.

The Indians could also choose to keep two extra infielders from the pool of utility candidates, rather than keep two extra outfielders – Travis Buck and Chad Huffman.

“Whoever we feel is going to make our club better, we’ll find a way to put him on (the roster),” Acta said.

Ironically, the Indians have been in this position before. This is the third straight spring one of their players has sustained an injury to the same area after being hit by pitches.

Last year, Valbuena sustained a bruised hand and was back on the field in less than a week. A year before, utility infielder Jamey Carroll broke his hand in the final exhibition game.

“It’s just one of those things, unfortunately,” Soloff said.

Unfortunately for Donald that is.

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com.

INDIANS (9-11-2) 10, ANGELS (11-12) 7

Hits

Shelley Duncan and Travis Buck drove in half of Cleveland’s runs, Duncan with a three-run home run in the seventh inning, and Buck with a two-run homer that put the game away in the ninth.

• Reliever Frank Herrmann didn’t allow a run or hit over 1 1/3 innings to earn his first save of the spring.

• Extra outfielder candidate Chad Huffman went 1-for-3 with a double, an RBI, two runs and two walks.

Misses

Indians starter Justin Masterson failed to last a scheduled five innings after allowing four runs on six hits over 4 2/3 innings. He struck out five but his exhibition ERA rose to 5.94 in five outings.

• It was another rough day for bullpen candidate Jensen Lewis. The right-hander failed to last an inning after allowing three runs on two hits and two walks, while recording just two outs. His spring ERA stands at 14.29 over six appearances (5 2/3 innings).

• Carlos Santana was hitless in four official at-bats with one strikeout.

ATTENDANCE: 8,735 (sellout) at Tempe Diablo Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.