Gomes to begin rehab assignment Friday

Gomes to begin rehab assignment Friday

CLEVELAND -- Yan Gomes has been doing everything he can behind the scenes to make a comeback this season. The Indians' top catcher will take another step toward that goal on Friday, when he begins a Minor League rehab assignment with Double-A Akron.

The Indians announced on Thursday that Gomes is scheduled to serve as the designated hitter for Akron on Friday and again on Sunday, barring any setbacks. Cleveland's starting catcher has been sidelined since July with a separated right shoulder, but he has been steadily increasing the volume of his hitting and throwing over the past couple of weeks.

The Tribe transferred Gomes to the 60-day disabled list from the 15-day DL on Wednesday, but the club noted that the move was mostly a procedural decision to get reliever Perci Garner on the 40-man roster. Now that rosters have expanded to a maximum of 40 players, the Indians can activate Gomes when he is ready without needing a subsequent transaction.

"All it is is it just creates a roster spot for us," president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said on Wednesday. "It doesn't really affect his time frame at all. He's eligible to come off the DL on Sept. 16. And that was kind of within the range of time frame that we were initially expecting, and that's been reaffirmed with where he is in the rehab process."

Gomes has been cleared to DH due to where he is in his hitting program, but it will likely be a little while longer before he is deemed ready to catch, given the nature of his injury. Gomes has been playing catch, but not yet at full speed. Over the past week, he has helped catch bullpen sessions for the pitchers, but the catcher has not resumed throwing to bases.

In the fifth inning of a game against the Twins on July 17, Gomes landed awkwardly after trying to avoid a collision with first baseman Kennys Vargas while running out a groundout. Gomes was carted off the diamond at Target Field and was later diagnosed with a separated shoulder, which came with an expected recovery time of six to eight weeks.

The injury added another unfortunate chapter to a rough season for Gomes, who won a Silver Slugger Award for his offensive work during the 2014 season. After being limited to 95 games last season due to a knee injury, Gomes is hitting .165 with eight home runs and 32 RBIs in 71 games for Cleveland this year. The injury occurred one at-bat after the catcher had snapped out of an 0-for-27 slump at the plate.

While Gomes has been sidelined, the Indians have relied on Roberto Perez and Chris Gimenez as their primary catching tandem. While both backups have been sound defensively, they have also struggled offensively. Cleveland tried to trade for All-Star Jonathan Lucroy prior to the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline, but the catcher vetoed the deal and was later dealt to Texas by Milwaukee.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.