Josh Naylor to begin rehab assignment with Double-A Akron

Cleveland Guardians v Chicago White Sox
Cleveland Guardians v Chicago White Sox / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

The return of Josh Naylor to the Cleveland Guardians is growing closer. Naylor is set to begin a rehab assignment with the Akron RubberDucks. The slugging first baseman is scheduled to play five innings Tuesday and Thursday, with his rehab assignment continuing through the weekend.

According to Guardians manager Terry Francona, it seems like if it were up to Naylor, he would be back right now. Francona would say, "He feels like he’s ready right now, which we love, but I think the trainers feel like he’s been out over a month, so we’ve got to build him up a little bit.".

Naylor has been out since early August due to an oblique injury, and it could not come at a worse time for the Guardians. Cleveland has gone 9-16 in Naylor's absence, seeing their playoff chances decrease as each day passes. The Guardians' power output has dropped as expected, with just 18 home runs as a team.

Even though the Guardians have gotten surprising production out of a few castoffs from other ballclubs, there is not another bat in the lineup that is capable of instilling fear in an opposing pitcher. This has led to Jose Ramirez getting fewer pitches to hit and forcing the other bats in the lineup to beat their opponent. This is not a recipe for success for a team that is featuring far too many players who are not major league caliber.

Naylor still leads the Guardians in runs batted in despite not appearing in a game during the month of August with 79, Ramirez's 71 is second on the ballclub. This speaks volumes in two areas. First off, how productive Naylor was when he was in the lineup. Secondly, how bad so many of the bats in the Guardians' lineup are.

If by some miracle Cleveland can win more games than they lose against Minnesota over the next week or so, perhaps Naylor could help the Guardians stay in the mix for the division. If not, it may be better to just shut him down for the remainder of the season to not risk further injury.