CHICAGO -- A large contingent of Jason Kipnis' family and friends made the trek to U.S. Cellular Field on Tuesday night. For 14 innings, they hoped the Indians rookie -- a native of the Chicago area -- would make his hometown debut.
A right oblique injury kept Kipnis on Cleveland's bench, sending his local fans home disappointed. On Wednesday, Indians manager Manny Acta made it clear that Kipnis would get a chance to play against the White Sox in Thursday's series finale.
"He's going to start playing tomorrow," Acta said prior to Wednesday's game. "I'm very impressed that this guy has been able to go through this and be able to play. We all know how those injuries are."
Kipnis, 24, has been out of the starting lineup for the Tribe for each of the past four games, including Wednesday's tilt on Chicago's South Side. The second baseman took early batting practice, fielded ground balls and played catch, but still received another day to rest.
Acta said Wednesday's workout was encouraging.
"He took very intense rounds of batting practice," Acta said. "He swung the bat well and did some running and all that. He passed the test."
That is good news for Cleveland's offense, which has benefited from Kipnis' bat since his promotion from Triple-A Columbus. In 18 games for the Tribe, Kipnis has hit .279 with six home runs, four doubles, 11 RBIs and 14 runs scored.
Acta said that, given the nature of Kipnis' injury, the second baseman will need to be eased back into the mix.
"There are no guarantees," Acta said. "We're going to have to manage his playing time. He's a guy that, going forward, for now, at least for the first week or so, he's not going to be able to go out there every day. We're going to have to work around that."
Huff better appreciates relief role
CHICAGO -- Indians starter David Huff has a newfound appreciation for members of the Tribe's bullpen after making an emergency relief appearance during Tuesday's 8-7, 14-inning loss to the White Sox.
"I've got a lot of respect for relievers," Huff said on Wednesday. "That's a tough job. That's a really tough job. As a starter, you come in, clean inning, throw as long as you can. It's a way different mentality.
"Now that I've had a little taste of it, I kind of understand. I don't completely understand, but my hat's off to those guys, with how quick they're able to get ready and get focused."
After the Indians used all seven of their relievers through the game's first 13 innings -- starter Ubaldo Jimenez bowed out after 4 2/3 innings and 105 pitches -- Cleveland turned to Huff with two runners on base and one out in the 14th. Huff last pitched on Sunday, when the Tribe's game against the Twins was postponed due to rain after two innings.
Three pitches into his first Major League relief appearance, Huff surrendered a walk-off single to Juan Pierre. Huff was warming up in the 14th in preparation for working the 15th inning for the Indians. When reliever Chad Durbin was unable to escape the 14th, Huff found himself trying to get loose in a hurry.
"First time out of the 'pen since, I don't even know when, maybe since college?" Huff said. "Now that I've done it, if they need me to do it again, I'd probably change some things up as far as getting ready quicker. It was like, 'Oh, crap, here we go.'"
Huff's last relief appearance actually came for Double-A Akron in 2008.
Indians manager Manny Acta said that Huff is still Cleveland's probable starter for Saturday's road game against Detroit.
Steamed Sipp earns first ejection
CHICAGO -- Indians reliever Tony Sipp succinctly summed up his actions during Tuesday's loss to the White Sox.
"To say I was heated," Sipp said, "that would be an understatement."
During the 10th inning of Cleveland's 8-7, 14-inning loss to Chicago, Sipp picked up his first ejection from first-base umpire Wally Bell. The lefty was tossed after prolonging an argument about a controversial call at first.
White Sox outfielder Alejandro De Aza chopped a pitch from Sipp to first baseman Matt LaPorta, who gloved the ball, hustled to first and appeared to tag the runner for an out. Sipp also ran to first on the play, though, making for a crowd of players that likely made the tag difficult to see from Bell's position on the field.
De Aza was ruled safe, and Sipp simply did not like Bell's explanation.
"He said [LaPorta] didn't touch him," Sipp said. "I can take, 'All right, I didn't see it,' or maybe, 'I'm not sure.' But he was like, 'He absolutely did not touch him.'"
Indians manager Manny Acta said he received different reasoning from Bell.
"They missed the play," Acta said. "Wally told me that the guy tagged the runner on the bag. I knew that he tagged him before the bag. I could see it from [the dugout]. Human element. It just didn't work in our favor."
Following the play, Acta headed to the mound and pulled Sipp from the game. As the lefty walked off the mound, he continued to bark at Bell, who started walking toward the pitcher. Before Sipp reached the dugout, Bell ejected him from the game. Sipp then threw his glove down in anger and continued to yell at Bell near first base before leaving the field.
"Emotions got the best of me out there," Sipp said with a shrug. "I was joking around with LaPorta. I asked him why he didn't just toss me the ball? That could've settled everything."
Acta questions judgment on obstruction ruling
CHICAGO -- Manny Acta rolled his eyes and smiled. The Indians manager had been asked for his opinion on the obstruction play that took place in the fourth inning of Tuesday's 8-7 marathon loss to the White Sox that lasted 14 frames.
"Oh, God," Acta replied prior to Wednesday's game in Chciago. "Do you have 30 minutes?"
The play in question occurred with Michael Brantley on first base with no outs in the fourth. Shin-Soo Choo pulled a pitch from White Sox righty Gavin Floyd into right field for what appeared to be an easy double. When Brantley rounded second base, Chicago shortstop Alexei Ramirez was in the runner's path.
Brantley stumbled to the dirt on the play before recovering and advancing to third base. Choo, on the other hand, had to pull up and retreat to first base to avoid a dicey situation. Acta felt that the umpires should have allowed Choo to move up to second base, considering the circumstances.
"It's unbelievable," Acta said, "that the defense committed the obstruction and the offense was penalized. It's a sure double. The ball went by the right fielder. My guy should've been on second base. ... I still feel that it should've been a judgment call."
Acta held a lengthy discussion on the field with the umpires before finally heading back to the dugout. Unsatisfied with the crew's explanation, Acta joked that the ruling could open the door for a new defensive strategy.
"Can I teach my shortstop from now on now to tackle every runner that goes through second base?" Acta said. "Because what's the ruling going to be? Obstruction, he gets third base. And then the guy who hit the ball, well, let's see if he knows the rulebook.
"That has to be brought up to whoever is supervising these guys or the league. It has to. Imagine if every team now teaches their shortstop to do that. No one is going to be able to score on a ball in the gap.
"I don't know. I thought that it wasn't fair."
Quote to note
"So we've got one more fundamental play to work on during Spring Training. Any time a guy is on first and somebody hits a double toward right field, just tackle the runner at second base."
-- Indians manager Manny Acta, joking about the obstruction play in the fourth inning of Tuesday's 8-7 loss to the White Sox.
Indians manager Manny Acta thought outfielder Michael Brantley (sore right wrist) looked fine in his return to the lineup on Tuesday night. Brantley went 3-for-6 with three singles and two runs scored. "I didn't see any grimacing on his face or anything like that," Acta said. "I think those days off and the [anti-inflammatories] really helped him."
Given the handful of controversial rulings throughout Tuesday's 8-7, 14-inning loss to the White Sox, Acta was asked for his thoughts on the umpiring crew of Laz Diaz, Wally Bell, John Hirschbeck and Scott Barry. "It's one of my favorite crews," Acta said on Wednesday. "Those guys are very good. They had a rough night last night."
Entering Wednesday, each of the Indians' past seven road losses has come in their opponents' last at-bat, including five losses in walk-off fashion. Cleveland had 15 losses in its opponents' last at-bat on the season going into Wednesday's action.