Cabrera was forced out of the game with a strained right quad and will fly back to Cleveland on Tuesday to undergo an MRI exam to determine the extent of the injury. It appears probable that Cabrera will be placed on the 15-day disabled list.
"He got it pretty good," Francona said. "Most likely, this is headed towards the DL, but we'll let him get scanned just so we know exactly what's going on there. We don't want to rush into anything, but it looked like he got it pretty good."
Cabrera said he felt a pop in his quad muscle while attempting to beat the throw from Cano. Asked if he was worried about the injury being serious, the shortstop nodded.
"A little bit, yeah," Cabrera said. "I've got to go back to Cleveland [Tuesday] and see how bad it is."
The quad issue first flared up in late April, but Cabrera has played through soreness over the course of the past month. Francona said the discomfort came and went and the shortstop said following Monday's loss that he felt his leg had improved in recent days.
Francona took measures to protect Cabrera, using him as a designated hitter on occasion to give the shortstop's legs a break.
"He felt better," Francona said. "You could see, he's stealing bases and things like that. I think there were days where he felt better and some days where we kind of kept an eye on it."
Francona and head trainer Lonnie Soloff ran out to Cabrera behind first base, where they met with Cabrera as he gathered himself. After lying on the ground in shallow right field in noticeable pain, Francona and Soloff helped the shortstop to his feet, threw his arms over their shoulders and helped him off the field.
Cabrera was 0-for-2 with a sacrifice bunt at the time of his exit.
While Cabrera is sidelined, utility man Mike Aviles -- Boston's everyday shortstop last season -- will slide into the regular role at shortstop, according to Francona. Aviles has bounced between second base, shortstop, third base and the outfield this season for the Tribe.
"Mike Aviles will shine. I have no doubt about that," Francona said.
This situation is one of the reasons Cleveland traded for Aviles (from Toronto) over the offseason. Over the past two seasons, Cabrera has struggled through second-half slumps and injuries and the team's depth at shortstop has been exposed.
Aviles does not like the current circumstances, but he was ready to step in.
"I don't feel good in those terms," said Aviles, referring to taking over at short due to an injury. "Everybody knows what Cabby brings to the table. It's definitely unfortunate when something like that happens. The good thing about this team is we have some depth, so hopefully he's not out too long and we can continue to keep our depth."
Cabrera typically hits in the No. 3 spot for the Indians. Francona noted that left fielder Michael Brantley is a candidate to hit out of the three-hole while the shortstop is on the shelf.
Cabrera's injury comes at an unfortunate time, considering he headed into Monday's game batting .301 with 13 extra-base hits and 10 RBIs in his last 23 games. On the season, the switch-hitting shortstop is hitting .254 with five home runs, 18 doubles, two triples, 25 RBIs and 28 runs scored through 53 games for Cleveland.
Cabrera was named to the American League All-Star team in each of the past two years, including serving as the starter two seasons ago.
"You lose any All-Star, let alone a two-time All-Star, it's tough," Aviles said. "He's a three-hole hitter. You hope that it's not something that's going to go for an extended period of time, because of what he brings to the table.
"You know every day he's going to play and every day he's going to give you solid defense at short, as well as potentially hit you the game-winning hit or a game-winning homer. There aren't many good shortstops like that in the league."
The Indians, who have already kept their heads above water without key players such as Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher in stretches this year, are confident they can weather this storm, too.
"We've got to find a way to get it done," Swisher said. "It's a no-excuse type attitude, man. We're not going to point fingers. We've got to pick each other up."