Outfielder Bradley Zimmer came off the disabled list and returned to manager Terry Francona’s lineup Friday night after missing the last two weeks with a left rib contusion.
Fellow outfielders Lonnie Chisenhall (right calf), Brandon Guyer (neck strain) and Tyler Naquin (left hamstring) have all made progress in their recoveries and could join him on the active roster soon, which will force Francona and the front office to make some difficult decisions.
“As we’ve seen, all kinds of stuff happens. So, if you try to get the perfect team and you let this guy go, you designate this guy, you do this, and then you look up a week from now and you go, ‘Where’s our outfielders?’ So, you have to keep that in mind.
“Certainly, the goal is to win every game here, but I think you have to be mindful of the organization, like the health of the organization. And (the front office leaders) are great about that. I think they’ve really helped me to understand probably maybe some of the bigger picture. Managers want the best team every day. That’s the way it is.”
Before the Indians get to that point, they have work to do against the Twins, who evened the four-game series between AL Central rivals with a victory Friday night that snapped Cleveland’s six-game winning streak.
They’ve got a good shot at bouncing back Saturday with right-hander Trevor Bauer taking the mound.
Bauer struck out a season-high 13 in his last outing but took no decision after allowing four runs on five hits over 7 1/3 innings against the Astros, throwing a career-high 127 pitches in the process.
In 17 career appearances against the Twins, Bauer is 4-6 with a 4.85 ERA including a 3-1 mark and 3.71 ERA in four starts last season.
Minnesota goes for a series lead behind right-hander Lance Lynn, who’s started to settle in after a rocky start to his Twins career.
He went 1-4 with a 7.47 ERA through his first eight starts with Minnesota but has held opponents to two earned runs over 12 2/3 innings in his last two starts, striking out nine with four walks.
The turnaround is just a starting point but is the result of extensive work with Twins pitching coach Garvin Alston.
“There’s a combination of things that’s going on,” Alston said recently.
“His command, we talked about that and everybody knows about that. But also when he makes good pitches, balls are getting through. I can count of four or five different occasions where he made really good pitches and the balls just got through or the ball landed in front of the outfield. It’s one of those things where it’s the perfect storm for him right now and he’s trying to turn it around.”
Lynn struck out nine over six shutout innings in his lone start against Cleveland, back on May 12, 2015.