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Cleveland Indians: Jose Ramirez officially rejoins lineup

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CLEVELAND, OHIO - AUGUST 07: Jose Ramirez #11 of the Cleveland Indians hits a two run homer during the seventh inning of game one of a double header against the Texas Rangers at Progressive Field on August 07, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OHIO - AUGUST 07: Jose Ramirez #11 of the Cleveland Indians hits a two run homer during the seventh inning of game one of a double header against the Texas Rangers at Progressive Field on August 07, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
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The Cleveland Indians welcome back third baseman Jose Ramirez for their final six games, beginning Tuesday night against the White Sox.

Jose Ramirez suffered a broken hamate bone in his right hand on August 24. Soon thereafter it was determined he would need surgery, and his timeline for a recovery was set at 5-7 weeks. His season was all but over, and the Cleveland Indians would have to fight on without him.

That kind of news is normally enough to cripple a team, and such a timeline in the final few days of August is usually cause for a player to shrug his shoulders and say he’ll get ’em next year.

Ramirez was evidently determined not to let the injury ruin his season, and he sure wasn’t about to let his teammates go it alone. The Indians third baseman will rejoin the lineup on Tuesday night in Chicago, exactly one month after suffering the injury.

If Ramirez is anywhere in the same neighborhood at the plate as he was in July and August, his tangible impact on the Indians in their final six games speaks for itself. In his 168 plate appearances after the All-Star break, Ramirez was slashing .327/.363/.705 with a 167 wRC+, 13 home runs, 18 doubles, 26 runs, and 40 RBIs.

But make no mistake: his return to the Tribe’s active roster goes far beyond the numbers he brings to the table. Here was a team for which everything appeared to be going right for once after a tumultuous first few months of the season. Then Ramirez, Tyler Naquin, and Jason Kipnis all went down in rapid succession with presumably season-ending injuries.

It was as though the baseball gods were trying harder and harder to convey a message the Indians had just refused to receive: This just isn’t your year.

Ramirez can hit for the cycle on Tuesday night in Chicago, and his on-field contributions still won’t measure up to the uplifting spark his return figures to ignite in an already high-energy, no-quit clubhouse.

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It’s also worth pointing out how crucial it is for Ramirez to have become available for the Indians’ final series of the regular season, which will be played in a National League park. It stands to reason that Franmil Reyes will be relegated to a pinch-hitting role without the DH, which would have weakened an already thin Cleveland lineup that has been regularly trotting out Ryan Flaherty of late.

Getting back some of the offense the Indians will be missing without Reyes at the plate three or four times a game is an indispensable side-benefit of Ramirez’s activation.

This Indians season has been dotted by a handful of galvanizing moments. They’ve had a one-step-forward, two-steps-back war of attrition with the injury bug, yet it has never seemed to keep them from charging forward.

The Tribe rallied around Carlos Carrasco when he was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this year, and the team has continued to draw inspiration from his valiant efforts not just to get back on the mound in the middle of a playoff race, but to smile through a life-changing illness.

A broken bone is not in the same altitude as a cancer diagnosis in terms of what the victim is faced with, and that’s obviously true whether we’re talking about a professional athlete or not.

But Jose Ramirez didn’t have to come back this season. He could’ve gone through the motions in his recovery process with the fleeting hope that if the Indians advanced to the American League Championship Series then maybe he’d be ready.

He decided not to leave that to chance. If the Indians are to get where they’re trying to go, he wants to be a part of it. And he did everything in his power and then some to make it happen–a week earlier than even the most optimistic of timelines. That, in a word, is a teammate.

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Now, Ramirez’s teammates don’t have to wonder what could’ve been if their third baseman didn’t get hurt. Win or lose, playoffs or no playoffs, the Cleveland Indians are going into the final stretch of the race for October together.

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