Guardians catcher Austin Hedges has sprained ankle, roster move possible? Injury updates

Cleveland Guardians catcher Austin Hedges, front left, is looked at by a trainer after being injured on a play against the Chicago White Sox during the fifth inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug.  19, 2022, in Cleveland.  (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

Cleveland Guardians catcher Austin Hedges, front left, is looked at by a trainer after being injured on a play against the Chicago White Sox during the fifth inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug. 19, 2022, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

A promotion for one of the Guardians catching prospects could be necessary, but the club might have avoided the need for any roster move.

Guardians catcher Austin Hedges left Friday night’s game with a sprained right ankle, the team announced. The injury happened as Hedges slid during the Guardians’ 5-2 win over the Chicago White Sox.

The team will have to wait to see how Hedges is feeling Saturday morning before determining whether a roster move is necessary. As of Friday night, the belief is that Hedges avoided anything serious.

“He’s actually doing pretty well,” Francona said. “He came in hard, you could see where the spike marks went over the metal grate, and he felt like a pop. And when he went back out to catch, he didn’t think he could move to block a ball. He examined structurally really well. He already said he felt really good.”

The next hurdle is whether Hedges is at least available to back up Luke Maile.

“I don’t know that we would start him tomorrow but if he’s available to come off the bench at least, that would save us a roster move,” Francona said.

If a roster move is needed, the Guardians have a few options. Only a few moments after Hedges exited the game in Cleveland, catching prospect Bo Naylor was removed from the game with Triple-A Columbus. It doesn’t necessarily mean that Naylor would receive the call-up if a move is needed, but it’s the most likely scenario. The Guardians certainly needed to ensure they had options while waiting to have Hedges evaluated.

Naylor, the No. 5 prospect and top catching prospect in the Guardians minor league system, has played well at Triple-A Columbus, posting an .851 OPS with seven home runs, eight doubles, two triples and 24 RBIs in 40 games following his promotion from Double-A .

If promoted, he’d be the 15th Guardians player to make his major league debut this season. Naylor has more offensive potential than Hedges or Maile and figures to be a major part of the club’s future at catcher whenever he makes the trip up I-71. Hedges’ injury might have expedited that a bit.

The Guardians could also promote Bryan Lavastida, the No. 26 prospect in the system who made his major league debut earlier this season, going 1-for-12 in six games. But with the Guardians in the thick of a tight race in the American League Central Division, Naylor could be the choice — if one is needed at all.

Anthony Gose progressing slowly from left triceps strain

Anthony Gose had a long road back to the major leagues after making the transition from outfielder to pitcher, a reinvention of his major league career in which he eventually found a role in the Guardians bullpen.

Because of that backstory, the club is being a bit more cautious with Gose as he works his way back from a strained left triceps. Gose has been sidelined since July 3 and was later transferred to the 60-day IL.

Gose has posted a 4.71 ERA and 5.07 FIP with 28 strikeouts in 21 innings this season.

“It’s been slow,” Francona said of Gose’s progress. “The other day he was out to like 75 feet. He was probably at 80 percent. Just because of his journey, we’re trying not to rush him and get him so when he does come back, he can pitch for the next 10 years. So it’s been a little slow. I’m sure at times it’s been a little challenging. We want him to feel good on the mound.”

Cody Morris nearing possible return in rehab from strained shoulder

Right-handed pitcher Cody Morris warranted plenty of high praise from Francona and the Guardians’ coaching staff this spring, even appearing to be a threat to make the Opening Day roster at one point. That possibility was dashed when Morris went down with a right shoulder strain that has derailed his 2022 season.

Morris has thrown just 15 innings in the minors but could see being an option for the major league club. With Triple-A Columbus, Morris has posted a 3.00 ERA with 18 strikeouts in nine innings. The results have been positive, and it’s possible Morris could be in the mix for some innings in September if a need arises.

“I was talking to [Triple-A pitching coach Rigo Beltran] the other day, and Rigo thought [Morris] probably, just by his estimate, could use like three more appearances until he was kind of maybe who he is,” Francona said. “Not saying he’s not going to get better, but they were really happy with what he’s doing. They have him starting and then the next time they have him coming out of the bullpen, still throwing up to maybe five innings, just a little bit different challenge, so maybe once he is ready, physically, maybe it’s an option for us.”

Ryan Lewis can be reached at rlewis@thebeaconjournal.com. Read more about the Guardians at www.beaconjournal.com/sports/cleveland-guardians. Follow him on Twitter at @ByRyanLewis.

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Austin Hedges sprains ankle, roster move possible? Injury updates

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