Third baseman Josh Donaldson went hitless Tuesday in his debut with the Indians but showed manager Terry Francona what he wanted to see.
Donaldson, who hadn’t played in a major-league game since May 28 because of strained left calf, went 0-for-3 but hit two balls to the warning track in a 2-0 win over the Rays.
“To me he looks like Donaldson,” Francona told reporters afterward (via Cleveland.com). “By that I mean he took some ferocious swings and he’s on so many pitches. He’s got time. It gets exciting.”
Donaldson was acquired from the Blue Jays in a waiver deadline deal Aug. 31, making him eligible for the postseason. The trade reportedly has drawn questions from AL contenders because of the calf injury that had kept him off the Indians’ active roster until 10 days after the deal.
The issue: Was Donaldson healthy when he was placed on waivers?
By rule, a player must be certified as healthy in order to be placed on trade waivers. Following a dispute with the Blue Jays over his health, Donaldson agreed he was healthy after the players union got involved in the process.
Now, with the Indians’ magic number down to three in the AL Central, Donaldson, the 2015 AL MVP, could be a force in the postseason.
Francona said he plans on Donaldson being available off the bench Wednesday, then back in the starting lineup Friday after Thursday’s off-day.
His presence in Cleveland’s lineup has a ripple effect. Jose Ramirez, who moved from third to make room for him, was 0-or-4 in is first game at second base. Jason Kipnis, moved from second to center field, went 1-for-3 and had no defensive chances before Greg Allen replaced him in the seventh inning.