December 20, 2014

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Indians notes: Kipnis activated; Carrasco headed for surgery

CLEVELAND — The Indians got some good news and some really bad news on the injury front Tuesday.

Second baseman Jason Kipnis was activated from the disabled list and was in the lineup, but starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco was moved from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list and is scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow next Wednesday.

Carrasco, 24, is expected to be sidelined for 12-18 months, which means the prospect of him pitching before the 2013 season are slim. The right-hander went 8-9 with a 4.62 ERA in 21 starts for the Indians this year, his best work coming during a five-start stretch in June when he went 4-1 with a 0.98 ERA.

“It’s a big blow to our rotation,” said manager Manny Acta. “Starting with the second half of last year, he showed a lot of the guy we envisioned him to be. He was very valuable to us this year. We could see why this guy was so highly thought of.

“Now that we’re going to be without him for a year, it’s hard to swallow.”

The injury was not considered a serious one when Carrasco was first placed on the disabled list Aug. 8. But the pain lingered, with the Indians believing the ligament damage was caused over time, not by one traumatic event.

With the Indians in need of offense as they hang onto slim title-contention hopes, Kipnis was activated without a rehab assignment after spending close to a month on the injured list with a strained right hamstring.

“Kipnis is basically rehabbing at this level,” Acta said. “He’s fine, but in any other scenario, he would be down there rehabbing.”

Acta said Kipnis, who entered Tuesday batting .279 with six home runs and 11 RBIs in his first 18 big league games, would not play every day at the start. He is expected to miss the series finale with Detroit today.

Kipnis was replaced by Luis Valbuena in the eighth inning. Valbuena was added to the roster from Triple-A Columbus on Tuesday.

In other injury news:

(bullet) Travis Hafner (strained tendon right foot) is on track to returning before the end of the month, but according to head trainer Lonnie Soloff, surgery is still an option should Hafner continue to experience symptoms once he is back on the field.

(bullet) Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo (strained left oblique) has begun taking batting practice and expects to leave the DL on his eligibility date Monday.

Visitation rights

Cleveland’s No. 1 draft pick, shortstop Francisco Lindor, paid his first visit to Progressive Field.

Lindor, 17, made what he called two tough decisions before signing with the Indians and receiving a $2.9 million bonus to begin his professional career. He chose the Indians over Florida State University, and before that, chose to leave his native Puerto Rico to come to the states for high school.

“It was kind of a hard decision,” Lindor said of leaving his homeland to attend Montverde Academy in Orlando, Fla. “But, as you can see, everything has worked out.”

The switch-hitting Lindor played in five games for Class A Mahoning Valley after signing with Cleveland, batting .316 (6-for-19) with two RBIs and an error.

According to scouting director Brad Grant, Lindor will report to the fall Instructional League and the Indians will decide where the top prospect will begin next season after watching him in spring training.

Minor detail

Double-A Akron left-hander Kelvin De La Cruz was named the Indians’ minor league pitcher of the week (Aug. 28-Sept. 3). He recorded two saves over the span, while tossing 5 1/3 scoreless innings and allowing one hit and striking out six. De La Cruz, signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2004, made 16 starts for the Aeros before missing over a month with shoulder inflammation and being moved to the bullpen. He entered Tuesday with a 5-6 record and 4.19 ERA in 23 games (16 starts) for Akron.

Roundin’ third

Since blowing consecutive saves, closer Chris Perez had converted five straight and 10 of his last 11 save opportunities and had not allowed an earned run over his last 14 appearances through Monday. … Browns cornerback Joe Haden tossed out one of the ceremonial first pitches. He was decked out in a half- Browns (Colt McCoy), half-Indians jersey (Grady Sizemore), wearing stirrups with the Chief Wahoo logo and an Indians cap. … Today, 12:05, STO/WTAM 1100-AM/WEOL 930-AM. Masterson (11-8, 2.92) vs. Verlander (21-5, 2.34).

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.