Gomes feeling positive after catching seven innings in Columbus

Indians catcher Yan Gomes could be activated off the disabled list by Tuesday. He sprained the MCL in his right knee on April 11.

Brad Rempel

COLUMBUS — After seven innings behind the plate on Wednesday, Yan Gomes was upbeat as he passed another hurdle on his rehab assignment from a sprained MCL to his right knee.

Now the guessing game begins on when the Indians can activate him from the disabled list.

"It was really good," said Gomes of his work in Wednesday’s Columbus-Buffalo game. "I felt good (back there) even in the seventh inning. It was a pretty positive day. There was no position I was getting myself into that was holding me back."

Batting second for the Clippers, Gomes went 1-for-2 and drew a walk in three plate appearances. In his four rehab games at Lake County and Columbus Gomes has gone 3-for-9 with a run scored.

In the fifth, Gomes hit a shot to right-center but Chris Dickerson, who played for the Indians last season, made a leaping grab at the 365 foot sign to take away what would have been at least a double.

The focus for everyone on Wednesday though was seeing how Gomes was doing catching. TJ House started his second rehab game and pitched five scoreless innings before Nick Maronde came on. There has been plenty of talk about Gomes having to get comfortable again squatting behind the plate but he said he gets more comfortable as the game goes along.

Gomes also noted that he enjoyed the two innings where he caught Maronde because he didn’t know how he pitched and that Gomes got to test his knee even more. During the fifth inning, Munenori Kawasaki stole second as Gomes had a low throw, but the footwork behind the plate was good.

"He moved around good. He showed no signs of being inhibited," said Columbus manager Chris Tremie, who is a former catcher. "His feet worked well and he looked good receiving the ball from the pitcher."

Added TJ House, who started the game: "He looks good, that’s the most important part. You don’t see him hesitating for certain things. It is nice and smooth."

Gomes will be the designated hitter on Thursday as Columbus opens a four-game series against Gwinett. After that it is up to the Indians’ training staff.

Terry Francona would love to have Gomes available starting Friday when the Indians begin a six-game homestand with the first three against the Reds. But that might not happen as trainer James Quinlan would like to see Gomes catch a nine-inning game first.

Francona told reporters in Chicago on Tuesday: "In fairness to him, we probably need to get him out to nine (innings). If we did something a day or two early, and something happens, wow, that would be a bad mistake."

Saturday will mark the six-week mark since Gomes’ injury took place. The original timetable on how long he would be out was 6-8 weeks. If he caught nine innings on Friday, the Indians could activate him on Saturday or Sunday during their series against the Reds.

If the Indians wanted to slightly err on the side of caution, Gomes could get Friday off, catch nine innings on Saturday and then be activated on Sunday or wait until Monday, when they open a three-game series against Texas. Gomes should have a clearer picture of his immediate schedule after speaking to the training staff on Thursday.

"Right now it is just like spring training. I’m trying to get in as many pitches as I can," Gomes said. "I’m still respecting the process though and that this was a significant injury. We’ll see where it goes."

HOUSE’S START: House threw five shutout innings in his second rehab start. Including last Friday’s stint at Lake County, he has not allowed a run on five hits in eight innings.

House’s sinker was working very well and he was keeping his fastball low and getting ground outs. The left-hander threw 73 pitches with 45 strikes. He had four three-ball counts but issued only one walk.

Having Charles Nagy in Columbus as the interim pitching coach has also benefitted House this week.

"He pitched a lot with the sinker so for me we discuss hand placement and how to get more side to side with it," House said.

House, who was placed on the DL on May 1 due to shoulder inflammation, will have a bullpen session in Cleveland on Friday before finding out what is next.