Strong return for Kipnis in the field and at the plate

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — If the Indians are going to contend for a postseason berth, they are going to need a healthy Jason Kipnis. After missing a week due to back spasms, the Indians second baseman returned to Cactus League play and looked like his old self.

In a 13-2 loss to the Reds on Thursday, Kipnis was 1-for-3 and made a nice diving stop to rob Brandon Phillips of a hit in the third.

"It’s good to be back with the guys. When you’re not playing you feel like you’re in no man’s land or not part of the team," Kipnis said.

Kipnis has played in only eight Cactus League games, which is the least among the Indians’ regular players. He missed most of the first week of games as he was recovering from offseason finger surgery.

When asked how many at-bats he needs to be ready for the start of the season on April 6 in Houston, Kipnis thinks there remains enough time to get his work in.

"Some guys need 30 ABs and others need 80. If you are going good you want to get started," he said. "I feel good at the plate so I’m ready to get started right now."

Added Terry Francona about Kipnis’ return: "He’s looked good swinging the bat. When he’s healthy he can impact the game so many ways. He’s athletic at second and can steal a base. We’re excited to watch him play healthy which will be a big boost for us."