On Josh Naylor’s ‘big heart’ and 5 other things about the Cleveland Indians

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CLEVELAND, Ohio — All season long, Josh Naylor’s hustle, grit and determination has encapsulated the approach manager Terry Francona likes to see in his young ballclub.

“He has a big heart,” Francona said. “As with a lot of 23-, 24-year-old kids, they can make some mistakes during games. But you could tell him that and he’d be, ‘OK, yes sir, I’ll try not to do that again,’ which is what you’re looking for.”

Naylor, lost presumably for the season on Sunday to a grisly ankle injury in Minnesota, was prone to adventurous defense in right field and at first base, and ran the bases with reckless abandon from time to time. But his effort was undeniable.

Francona admitted Monday that his ballclub also makes mistakes, but in spite of the occasional misstep, they keep playing. Just like Naylor.

“That’s kind of what he embodies so well,” Francona said. “He just keeps playing. I’m really hopeful that going through this, that will be what gets him to the finish line and back to being a good player, is that attitude.”

1. First responders

Francona said he was proud of the work that head athletic trainer James Quinlan and assistant athletic trainer Jeff Desjardins did in tending to Naylor’s injury. He said Desjardins got to Naylor first because Quinlan was back in the clubhouse.

“Just watching their professionalism, because it was hard, I had to walk away a couple times,” Francona said, while also noting the Twins medical staff played a critical role in Naylor’s care.

“Not only was I impressed with our guys, but we were appreciative of the Twins, what they did, too.”

2. LaMole on the move

Franmil Reyes will continue his minor-league rehab assignment this week, but will shift to Double-A Akron as the RubberDucks host Bowie for six games beginning Tuesday at Canal Park.

Reyes, sidelined with an internal oblique strain since May 23, had played three games for Columbus, but the Triple-A Clippers will be on the road for six games in Toledo this week. Francona said Reyes will play three games with Akron and be reassessed after Thursday. If all goes well, Reyes could be activated for Saturday’s game against Houston.

“We tried to explain to Franmil that, regardless of the need here, we felt the need to have him get a certain amount of at-bats,” Francona said. “It’s really not fair to shortcut that because there’s a need.”

3. Bebo close

Roberto Perez, on the 60-day injured list following finger surgery in early May, caught five innings Sunday for Columbus.

He is not eligible to return until July 3, but the 32 year old has already played back-to-back games on his rehab stint at Triple-A. Perez was seen taking early batting practice at Progressive Field before Monday’s game against Detroit.

Francona said he should be ready to go next week.

“He did such a good job with his lower half while he was out that by the time we get him back, he’ll be in pretty good shape.”

Perez will play Tuesday and Wednesday in Akron with the RubberDucks. Zach Plesac will make his first rehab start in Tuesday’s game.

4. Sticks staying put

Francona said the Indians would prefer to leave righty Triston McKenzie in the minors despite the need for a starter at the major-league level.

“I think that would best for him is to allow him to get himself untracked and then get on track,” Francona said. “There were some things he needed to work on.”

McKenzie was set to start Tuesday’s series opener for Columbus in Toledo. In three Triple-A starts, McKenzie is 1-0 with a 0.73 ERA and 11 strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings, but he’s walked 10.

“We view him as somebody that can certainly can help us long-term,” Francona said. “Sometimes you’ve got to bite the bullet short-term.”

5. Bieber bits

Francona said Shane Bieber had a “quick examination” Monday by Dr. Jason Genin at Cleveland Clinic and by all accounts both Genin and Bieber were pleased.

Bieber has been sidelined since June 14 with a subscapularis strain in his right shoulder. He initially went through a two-week shutdown period where he did not pick up a baseball.

“Biebs has been upping his intensity in what they’re doing,” Francona said. “At some point this week, he will go back and get another scan and then we’ll certainly have another update.”

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