After going through a rocky April, the Cleveland Indians got more bad news before even playing a game in May.
All-star second baseman Jason Kipnis was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained side muscle prior to Friday's game against the Chicago White Sox. Kipnis's injury is expected to sideline him from three to five weeks.
Losing Kipnis is yet another setback for a team that's struggled in several areas. Cleveland has lost six straight and is in last place in the American League Central. The Indians have yet to resemble the club that made the playoffs as a wild-card team in 2013.
While one poor month doesn't guarantee a losing season, general manager Chris Antonetti knows it's time to see some improvement.
"There is obviously urgency," he said. "We want to try to turn things around as quickly as possible. Regardless of what the immediate results are, we need to play better as a team, really in all facets. I'm confident we'll do that."
Kipnis injured his oblique during an at-bat in the fourth inning of Tuesday night's loss to Los Angeles. He had an MRI on Thursday that showed the injury was more serious than originally thought.
"It's not one of those ones you can play through," Kipnis said. "You have to let it fully recover because if you push it and re-injure it, you're right back at step one."
The 27-year-old Kipnis is hitting .234 with three homers and 12 runs batted in for the slumping Indians, who went 0-6 on a West Coast trip against the San Francisco Giants and Angels.
"Trust me, watch how much this training staff hates me after about a week," he said. "As a player, you never like watching the game and not be able to help out the team. Hopefully, I'll get back out there as soon as possible."
Kipnis signed a six-year, $52.5 million US contract at the start of this season. His injury was the low point of a trip during which the Indians scored 13 runs and batted .183.
"That probably wasn't our most fun road trip," manager Terry Francona said. "Unfortunately, we managed to do some things every game that didn't help us win."
In an effort to break the slump, pitchers Corey Kluber and Cody Allen wore chicken outfits while standing in the outfield during batting practice Friday, but the Indians' numbers haven't provided many laughs. Cleveland is 12th in the AL in runs scored and leads the league with 26 errors, resulting in 17 unearned runs.
Opening day starter Justin Masterson is winless in six starts, and several key hitters, including Carlos Santana, Nick Swisher and Asdrubal Cabrera, have struggled. Catcher Yan Gomes, who signed a six-year, $23 million contract in spring training, has made seven errors after committing three last season.
“Teams are going to go through stretches of the season where they don't play great," Antonetti said. "There are going to be ebbs and flows to the season."
"I believe we'll find a way to dig ourselves out of what we've dug," Francona said.
The Indians recalled infielder Jose Ramirez from triple-A Columbus. Ramirez has a .319 average with four homers and 17 RBIs in 23 games for the Clippers.