July 28, 2014

Medina
Cloudy
65°F

Tribe: Nick Swisher 0-for-5 in return

CLEVELAND — Nick Swisher returned to the lineup after a six-game absence Sunday, but his offensive struggles continued. The first baseman went 0-for-5 and grounded out to end the game as the tying run in a 5-3 loss to the Twins.

Swisher, who has been plagued by a sore left shoulder for much of the season, is batting just .231 with seven home runs and 24 RBIs over 62 games.

Actor Kevin Costner takes batting practice before Sunday’s between the Indians and Minnesota. (AP PHOTO)

Swisher is in the first year of a four-year contract worth $56 million, and the injury, which could require surgery at the end of the season, will have to be monitored for the remainder of the year. He aggravated it during a swing, but it also affects his throwing motion.

In other injury news, closer Chris Perez (right shoulder soreness) threw a simulated game at Double-A Akron’s Canal Park on Sunday. The next step is another minor league rehab appearance, possibly at Class A Mahoning Valley on Tuesday or Wednesday.

“It went well,” manager Terry Francona said of Perez’s simulated game. “He was thrilled.”

Perez was expected to be activated Friday but that was delayed after a discouraging rehab appearance Tuesday at Akron. He joined the Indians in the dugout for Sunday’s series finale but did not speak to reporters after the game.

(bullet) Right-hander Brett Myers (elbow tendinitis) will begin another minor league rehab assignment today — one inning at Mahoning Valley — with Francona confirming that if Myers is able to return, it will be as a reliever.

“We all felt that with the downtime he’s had, this is the best way he could still contribute,” Francona said.

Myers, who is making $7 million on a one-year contract, made four appearances (three starts) before landing on the injured list April 20. He’s already had one rehab assignment scrapped after experiencing discomfort in the elbow.

Red-hot Wahoo

Jason Kipnis has put himself into All-Star discussion with a highly productive June that has seen the second baseman bat .400 (28-for-70) with a homer, six doubles and 15 RBIs over 20 games.

“Right now, I’m just seeing the ball real well and I have the consistent swing,” said Kipnis, who reached base for the 25th consecutive game and went 3-for-4 with an RBI on Sunday.

Kipnis is batting .283 with nine homers, 41 RBIs and 17 stolen bases in 65 games, but he is among tough All-Star competition at his position, including New York’s Robinson Cano and Boston’s Dustin Pedroia.

Next up

The Indians are on the road for the next 11 games, opening a four-game series in Baltimore tonight at 7:05.

Ubaldo Jimenez (5-4, 4.66 ERA) starts for Cleveland in the series opener, while the Orioles counter with LHP Zach Britton (1-1, 5.56). Justin Masterson (9-5, 3.48) goes Tuesday (7:05 p.m.) against RHP Chris Tillman (8-2, 3.71), with Scott Kazmir (4-4, 5.37) starting for the Indians on Wednesday (7:05 p.m.) against RHP Jason Hammel (7-3, 5.30).

Corey Kluber (6-4, 3.68) goes for Cleveland in the series finale Thursday (7:05 p.m.), while Baltimore starts RHP Miguel Gonzalez (5-3, 3.75).

Celebrity sighting

Actor Kevin Costner was in attendance Sunday, taking batting practice prior to the game and joining the STO and WTAM 1100-AM broadcasts during the loss to the Twins.

Costner has been in town since early May and just wrapped up shooting scenes for the movie “Draft Day,” a film about the Cleveland Browns and their pursuit of a No. 1 draft choice.

Minor details

Right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka got his first win for Triple-A Columbus on Saturday, allowing just a run on seven hits and striking out six over 5⅔ innings of a 6-2 victory over Lehigh. Matsuzaka is 1-3 with a 3.86 ERA in eight starts for the Clippers.

• Akron shortstop Ronny Rodriguez left Saturday’s game with hamstring tightness and was not in the lineup Sunday. He was recently named Cleveland’s minor league player of the week and is batting .293 with four homers and 35 RBIs in 69 games for the Aeros.

Roundin’ third

The Indians entered Sunday owning a major league-best 14-7 record in one-run games. Over the past five seasons, Cleveland is 110-87 in one-run games, which ranks third in the big leagues behind San Francisco (126-97) and Baltimore (108-84).

• Indians starting pitchers entered Sunday with a 2.97 ERA over the last 12 games to lower the staff ERA from 4.56 to 4.28.

Contact Chris Assenheimer at (440) 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com.