Tribe hopes to have Kipnis back on Friday

Second baseman on Triple-A rehab assignment for shoulder injury

Tribe hopes to have Kipnis back on Friday

MINNEAPOLIS -- Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis could make his season debut as early as Friday.

Kipnis has been working his way back from right shoulder inflammation that began during Spring Training. Cleveland manager Terry Francona said before Monday's game in Minnesota that Kipnis could return from his rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus for the opener of a road series against the White Sox.

"He plays Tuesday and Wednesday and is going to be off Thursday," Francona said. "Best-case scenario, he flies to Chicago and joins us Friday. Now, that's the best-case scenario."

Kipnis, 30, had a second opinion on his shoulder in mid-March from Dr. Keith Meister in Arizona. At that time, Kipnis was given a timetable of four to five weeks before returning to the Indians' lineup.

The injury limited Kipnis to just five Cactus League at-bats this spring. During a healthy regular season in 2016, Kipnis played in a career-high 156 games and batted .275 with 23 home runs and 82 RBIs.

In five games on his rehab assignment -- two at Triple-A and three with Double-A Akron -- Kipnis was 3-for-13 (.231) with a double and five strikeouts.

Tyler Mason is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.