Cleveland Indians: Bradley Zimmer to make long-awaited return

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Bradley Zimmer has been added to the active roster for the Cleveland Indians. How will he fit into the outfield equation for the home stretch?

Bradley Zimmer last appeared in an MLB game on June 3 of last year. He was demoted to the minors after that game, suffered a shoulder injury one week later, and has been rehabbing ever since.

His recovery process has reached a merciful end, however, as he has been added to the Cleveland Indians active roster in advance of the Tribe’s three-game series against the Twins.

The Indians have been without the defensive prowess and reliable left-handed bat of Tyler Naquin for exactly two weeks as of Friday. Jake Bauers has regrettably failed to blossom into an everyday player in his first season with the Tribe, and switch-hitting Greg Allen is around league average against right-handed pitching.

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Zimmer has the ability to fill the defensive void left behind by Naquin in short order, but time will tell whether he’s more serviceable at the plate than Allen–or even Bauers, for that matter. Zimmer has a career wRC+ of 75 and a 34.5% strikeout rate against righties.

He has been hitting well in the minors since being activated off the IL a month ago, with three homers, three doubles, five walks, and 12 strikeouts in 50 plate appearances. The strikeouts remain a concern, but the other trends are encouraging.

It will be interesting to see what kind of role Zimmer takes on over these final few weeks. He figures to see a handful of chances as a pinch-runner, and he’s a sure bet to replace Bauers defensively late in any game.

What other opportunities he will get remains unclear. He’d have to prove to be a significant upgrade over Allen to justify starting him in left field, and he has virtually no time to make his case in that regard.

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Still, there are worse guys to have available to run the bases or man the outfield in the late innings. It remains to be seen how much Zimmer can help the Indians on the home stretch, but his call-up doesn’t figure to hurt them.