CLEVELAND — There was bad news for the Indians on the injury front Tuesday.
David Murphy is expected to miss the next four to five weeks with a right oblique strain, while Nick Swisher could be headed for surgery on his right knee. Both players were placed on the disabled list Sunday.
The Indians announced that Swisher was examined at the Cleveland Clinic by Dr. Rick Parker on Monday and was seeking a second opinion, but Francona would not say whether surgery was suggested.
“I think what we need to do is allow this process to kind of play itself out,” Francona said. “(Swisher’s) going to get another opinion, and then (we’ll) put everybody’s head together and see how to progress moving forward.”
Murphy could return before the end of the season, but there are no guarantees.
“You’re kind of at the mercy of the oblique,” Francona said. “You have to let that thing heal. Some guys might heal quicker. It’s not a perfect science.”
Murphy’s injury is another jolt to Cleveland’s outfield, which is already without center fielder Michael Bourn. Out since July 6 with a left hamstring strain, Bourn has been on a minor league rehab assignment, with Francona saying the outfielder could return this weekend. He was scheduled to play nine innings for Triple-A Columbus on Tuesday.
“You don’t really assess what you’re missing,” Francona said of the injured players. “You’re trying to figure out what you have and how to make that be good enough to win. That’s what it’s about.”
Francona confirmed that right-hander Carlos Carrasco would remain in the rotation, making his next start Saturday against the East Division-leading Baltimore Orioles and former Cleveland pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez.
Carrasco (4-4, 3.60 ERA) returned to a starting role Sunday at Yankee Stadium, helping Cleveland to a series-clinching win by tossing five shutout innings and allowing just two hits.
Francona predicted big things this year from the Royals and has not been surprised by Kansas City’s recent surge.
“I’m actually surprised it took them this long. I think they’re really good,” Francona said of the Royals, who had won nine of their last 10 games to take over first place in the Central Division through Monday. “For whatever reason, they hovered around the .500 mark for a long time.”
The Indians have not had the look of a playoff contender, but they were still alive in the division and wild-card races, trailing KC by 5 1/2 games through Monday, while facing a five-game deficit for the last wild-card spot.
“I think what’s important is what our record is,” Francona said. “We’ve won enough where the next six to seven weeks are really important, but we’ve got some ground to make up. (It) doesn’t mean we can’t do it, but we have to do some things better than we have.”
Zach Walters might not play the position in a game this season, but Francona said he would take ground balls as shortstop.
“We need to find out just how versatile he can be,” Francona said of Walters, who was acquired from Washington in the trading deadline deal for Asdrubal Cabrera. “With his power and his ability to switch hit, if he can play short — that’s always kind of the key.
“A guy that can play short and the outfield, that kind of lengthens out your roster. If he can do that, that makes him more interesting, and we’re already excited about him.”
Walters, 24, began his career as a shortstop, but has played sparingly there this year, spending time at second, third, designated hitter and in the outfield. He started in left field Sunday and was at DH Tuesday.
- The Indians have not been more than two games over or under .500 since July 20.
- Second baseman Jason Kipnis entered Tuesday batting .326 (15-for-46) with 11 runs over his last 11 games. Kipnis went 9-for-21 with six runs during Cleveland’s recent five-game road trip.