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Browns149

Lindor hurt. Not good

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As long as he is good for the playoffs....which I still think the Tribe can get to.

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CLEVELAND -- In a year where the Indians have a lot of positions up for grabs heading into Spring Training, it seemed as though Cleveland's one guarantee was Francisco Lindor would be starting at shortstop on Opening Day. But now, even that is up in the air.

The Indians announced on Friday afternoon that Lindor recently sustained a right calf strain while preparing for Spring Training in Orlando, Fla. He was evaluated at the Cleveland Clinic on Wednesday by Dr. Mark Schickendantz, who confirmed the moderate strain.

Lindor injured it last weekend and informed Indians head athletic trainer James Quinlan about the discomfort on Monday after the soreness failed to subside. He has started his rehab process, and the Tribe said he will be examined daily this spring. The 25-year-old shortstop is expected to return to Major League game activity in 7 to 9 weeks following his Wednesday evaluation, which would put his return between March 27 and April 10. With the Indians opening their season in Minnesota on March 28, it doesn't leave Lindor much wiggle room to be the Opening Day starter.

If the three-time All Star isn't ready to rejoin his club for the Twins series, who can fill in? The Indians have options in the club's No. 6-ranked prospect Yu Chang or Eric Stamets from their farm system, Max Moroff (traded from the Pirates on Nov. 14) or newly signed Ryan Flaherty, who received a non-roster invitation to Indians camp.

Chang slashed .256/.330/.411 with 13 home runs and 62 RBIs in 457 at-bats with Triple-A Columbus in 2018. Although there has been much discussion of moving Chang to third base since Lindor has locked down shortstop in front of him, the 23-year-old infielder could be an option to fill in.

Stamets, 27, has been in Cleveland's Minor League system since he was traded by the Angels in '15. He hit .202 with 16 RBIs in 78 games with Columbus last year.

Moroff, 25, has appeared in 84 games for Pittsburgh since 2016, playing 45 of those at second, 22 at short and six at third. Last year, he hit .186 in 67 plate appearances with the Pirates.

Flaherty was signed on Thursday to a Minor League contract. The 32-year-old could be a utility option for the Tribe, having regular playing time at all four infield positions. He slashed. .217/.298/.292 in 81 games for the Braves last season.

Mandy Bell covers the Indians for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MandyBell02.

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