GOODYEAR, Ariz. — With a hop off his feet turning a double play and by driving a ball nearly over the fence, three-time All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor moved closer to returning from a right calf strain for the Cleveland Indians.
Yet his status for Opening Day on March 28 at Minnesota remains uncertain.
Batting every inning Wednesday in a modified intrasquad minor league game, Lindor made eight plate appearances, going 0-for-6 with two walks.
Eager to hit, Lindor swung on a 3-0 count during his sixth plate appearance, extending it to nine pitches and drawing a walk. Out of caution and because of his morning baserunning, he was replaced by a pinch runner.
On a 3-0 count in his next plate appearance, he ripped a ball to the right field fence, where prospect Oscar Gonzalez made a leaping catch, preventing a home run.
Lindor was asked if he needs to appear in a Cactus League game to be ready for the season opener.
“I don’t think so. I can play in the minor leagues or B games to be ready,” he said.
“Baseball’s such a crazy sport that I can have five at-bats and feel great or have 60 at-bats and on Opening Day be completely lost. I am taking at-bats and they can see that I am all right. I can play; I don’t need that many at-bats.”
Lindor and the Indians could have to deal with cold weather next week in Minneapolis.
“It’s going to be cold, but I am sure with calf sleeves, heaters [my calf will be warm],” he said.
“It is the beauty of spring training; it is always hot and then all of a sudden, you show up to 25-degree weather. That’s how it is.”
Lindor, 25, ran bases at full effort Wednesday morning.
“I go as fast as my leg allows me and see how it feels a couple hours later, and so far, it feels great,” he said shortly after receiving treatment, following his play in the minor league game.
His daily treatment lasts 60 to 90 minutes.
“That is going to be the new normal,” Lindor said.
Ultimately, his return to the major league level will take time.
“Of course, I want to play this game, that’s why I am here, I want to help my team win,” he said. “But that’s why they [trainers] are good at what they do. They can slow people down to make sure they don’t rush it.”
Lindor had a pinch runner take his place for each of his walks.
“I want to go as hard as I can and have them chase me and tag me like Little League,” he said.
Lindor, who calls the minor leaguers “the lions” because of their hunger to reach the big leagues, gained an appreciation for their determination when a baserunner ran on Lindor when he was receiving a relay throw.
“They are going all-out and I’m trying to pace myself,” he said. “It reminded me not to take anything for granted, because at the end of the day, they want to be here [in the major leagues] and they are working as hard as they can to be up here.”