Indians catcher Gomes out at least 6 weeks with knee sprain
CLEVELAND (AP) Yan Gomes could be out of the Indians' lineup for two months, a major blow to a team expected to contend this season.
Gomes, one of the Indians' best players, sustained a "moderate" sprain of the medial collateral ligament in his right knee on a play at the plate Saturday. The team expects him to be out at least six weeks. An MRI at the Cleveland Clinic on Sunday revealed the sprain.
Gomes' leg was jolted violently by Detroit outfielder Rajai Davis, who slid hard on a force play and clipped the catcher's right leg. Gomes was extended at the time like a first baseman making a catch.
Before Sunday's game Gomes was placed on the 15-day disabled list and he hobbled onto the field on crutches to receive his Silver Slugger Award from last season.
Indians manager Terry Francona was bracing for bad news.
"Losing Gomes, man, that can be a season-killer," Francona said before the series finale.
Gomes is the club's top right-handed power hitter and a solid defensive player. Last season, he led all AL catchers in average (.278) and extra-base hits (49). He was second in RBIs (74) and homers (21) and handled one of baseball's youngest starting staffs.
Not having Gomes in the lineup or behind the plate weakens the Indians, who went 85-77 in 2014 and were in the playoff hunt until the season's final weekend.
"I think I used the word with Gomer a lot of times this spring where you like your catcher to be indispensable," Francona said. "I think that's a pretty big compliment to Gomer."
Roberto Perez started Sunday's game in place of Gomes, and the team will call up Brett Hayes from Triple-A Columbus on Tuesday. The Indians are off Monday.
Gomes' absence was felt in the first inning Sunday when Perez overthrew third base on a double steal, allowing the Tigers to score their first run.
Francona is confident that Perez, who homered earlier this week in a win at Houston, can fill in capably while Gomes is out.
"We're so fortunate we have Roberto," Francona said. "I would say the biggest thing is that every single pitcher on the staff has not one single issue throwing with Roberto. He has a little bit less experience less than Gomes, not a ton, but some. But they all love throwing to him. We told him this spring, 'Prepare like you're going to be an everyday guy because you're always one injury away from being an everyday guy.'
"Unfortunately that happened. The good side for us it that he can handle this."
Perez played in 29 games last season for the Indians, who brought up the 26-year-old in July. He batted .271 with one homer and four RBIs.
The Indians also recalled right-handers Shaun Marcum and Austin Adams from Triple-A Columbus and optioned lefty Kyle Crockett to the minors.