Tribe thrilled Gomes on cusp of returning

Catcher rehabbing shoulder, homers in Triple-A playoffs

Tribe thrilled Gomes on cusp of returning

MINNEAPOLIS -- No matter what the statistics next to Yan Gomes' name read for this season, the Indians are very much looking forward to having the catcher back in the fold. Backup catcher Chris Gimenez said he has been following Gomes' progress closely over the past few days.

"I saw he hit a bomb yesterday," Gimenez said on Friday afternoon at Target Field. "I was fired up. He's such an integral part of the team."

Gomes, who has been sidelined since July 18 with a separated right shoulder, has appeared in five Minor League rehab games, including the past two with Triple-A Columbus during the International League playoffs. Gomes worked behind the plate in Thursday's rehab appearance and belted a home run in three at-bats for the Clippers.

Indians manager Terry Francona noted that Gomes was scheduled to work as the designated hitter for Double-A Akron in that affiliate's Eastern League playoff game on Friday night. Through Thursday, the catcher had hit .357 (5-for-14) with two walks and five runs scored on his rehab assignment.

"He's doing good," said Francona, who added that Gomes would likely play Saturday and rest Sunday. "And then we'll kind of reconvene again. But, he's doing really well."

While Gomes has been sidelined, Gimenez has split the catching duties with Roberto Perez, who has garnered the bulk of the playing time of late. Cleveland is also carrying catcher Adam Moore as its third-string option for the rest of September. At some point before the end of the regular season, the expectation is that Gomes will be activated from the 60-day disabled list. He is eligible to return Sept. 16.

"Not that he would be back catching every inning of every game, because I don't think that's realistic," Francona said, "but he's a really good catcher. And, our catchers have been hitting ninth all year. We have the ability to pinch-hit and all that. It would be really valuable [to get him back]."

Gomes won an American League Silver Slugger Award in 2014, but dealt with a knee injury in '15 and a prolonged slump this season. Prior to the shoulder injury, sustained on July 17 in a game against the Twins at Target Field, the catcher was batting .165 with eight homers and 32 RBIs in 71 games for Cleveland.

"We all hope that, not that you ever wanted him to have a break," Gimenez said, "but that this break from baseball, just mentally, would kind of refresh and kind of reboot the system. We told him, too: 'When you go back up there and it says whatever it says by your name, you have to think of it as a fresh start.'

"And I really do think he's had that chance. Now, he's fresh. He's obviously got the energy level and the excitement to be back out there."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for 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.