Cleveland Indians: Assessing potential impact of Oscar Mercado injury

The Cleveland Indians seem to be averaging one injury concern per week down in Arizona. That trend continued in the first week of March with Oscar Mercado.

Oscar Mercado is the latest spring training casualty on a growing list of them for the Cleveland Indians. Mercado injured his wrist diving for a shallow fly ball in Thursday’s exhibition versus the San Francisco Giants.

The second-year outfielder is listed as day-to-day with a left wrist sprain, but Mandy Bell of MLB.com reports that a more detailed determination will be made following an MRI.

If Mercado is required to miss any time, the door presumably opens for at least one of Bradley Zimmer or Delino DeShields in center field.

Spring training could not be going much worse for Zimmer, who has struck out eight times in 20 at-bats. That’s hardly an adequate sample size, but strikeouts have plagued Zimmer throughout his career at various levels of Cleveland’s system; this isn’t anything new.

The Indians would love for their former top prospect to turn a corner and force his way onto the MLB roster regardless of Mercado’s timeline; they could simply use another good baseball player in their outfield.

Zimmer has seemed destined for Triple-A Columbus to start the year, but the Indians could wind up needing his speed and defense off the bench if Mercado is out for any extensive time frame.

DeShields is also a speedy and defensively adept center fielder who can fill in fine at the bottom of the Indians’ lineup if they need him to. His bat has never been the main attraction, but neither have those of the players with whom he’s competing.

Perhaps even a platoon between Zimmer and DeShields in center would suffice. Then there is switch-hitting Greg Allen, who, if nothing else, has plenty of MLB experience filling in during times like these.

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Ideally, Mercado’s MRI reveals nothing serious and he has to take it easy for a couple of days. The other scenario? Cleveland’s shallow outfield has its depth tested right out of the gate.

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