MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Watching right fielder Josh Naylor and second baseman Ernie Clement on a collision course chasing a popup, everyone at Target Field kept waiting for somebody to veer off.
They never did.
The Cleveland defenders smacked into each other, a scary moment Sunday that left Naylor with a significant injury and both dugouts shaken.
After an 8-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins, Indians manager Terry Francona said Naylor had suffered a broken bone but wasn’t sure which one, and was being treated at a hospital.
“That’s obviously playing out in front of anyone’s eyes,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “You can’t, you know, once you see that you’re not going to unsee it and it brings out feelings too, and it’s hard for people to sometimes regardless of what team you’re on, refocus, and there’s a lot of people that that care about that young man, and we’ll be thinking about him as time goes on.”
The accident occurred in the fourth inning when Jorge Polanco checked his swing and made contact, sending a flare into the shallow outfield.
Naylor went flying and spinning after the collision and had his right foot catch underneath him, twisting the foot the wrong way.
Teammates immediately called for medical attention with Naylor writhing on the ground in agony. He was taken off the field on a stretcher with his right foot in an air cast.
“It’s hard,” Francona said. “You saw the way he reacted. It’s hard to not react to that. Everybody’s certainly thinking about him. I was worried about Ernie, too, because Ernie had a pretty good cut on his chin.”
Clement had the ball glance off his glove for a single.
“To be honest, it was really, really hard,” said Indians catcher René Rivera, who homered. “The way he reacted, it was heartbreaking, man. It’s hard. A guy like him, nice guy in the clubhouse, really a lot of energy, positivity and to see him go through that was really tough. You can tell the teammate, the full dugout was really shook.”
Said Francona: “On the replay, Naylor, I think, was going to catch it right about shoulder height. So, he’s got to call it. The second baseman, he’s going until he hears something. So, there’s got to be some communication there and I don’t believe there was.”
Clement was playing his seventh game in the majors.
“He could have been on the receiving end, but he came out of it with just a cut on his chin,” Francona said. “But he felt terrible and it wasn’t his fault, but he felt terrible. He’s a great kid.”
Cleveland has been hit hard by injuries this season, with pitcher Shane Bieber, Aaron Civale and Zach Plesac among those who have missed time.
Play resumed after a 12-minute delay and Justin Garza relieved starter Sam Hentges (1-2) for his major league debut. Two batters later, Nelson Cruz hit his 434th career homer, tying him with Juan González and Andruw Jones for 47th on the all-time list.
Andrelton Simmons and Josh Donaldson also homered for Minnesota, which has won seven of nine games and took two of three against Cleveland after Saturday’s game was postponed due to rain.
J.A. Happ (4-3) bounced back with six strong innings. He allowed two runs on six hits, striking out seven. In his previous eight starts, covering 36 2/3 innings, he had surrendered 38 earned runs.
“I feel like the last couple weeks, we’ve been putting some games together and playing better baseball, and I just wanted to emphasize, hey, this is the moment right now,” Donaldson said after addressing the team before the game. “Everybody else is starting to get tired. We need to go out there and pick it up a notch.”
Hentges took the loss for Cleveland in his first major league start in his home state. He gave up six runs on six hits and four walks in 3 1/3 innings.
The 6-foot-6 left-hander was a fourth-round draft pick by the Indians in 2014 out of Mounds View High School, approximately 12 miles northeast of Target Field.
“It was cool,” Hentges said. “It was very cool. It didn’t go the way that we wanted to, but it was a cool moment.”
Indians: RHP Plesac (right thumb fracture) will start a rehab assignment with Double-A Akron on Tuesday and he’s scheduled to pitch two innings. He’s been out since fracturing the tip of his thumb on a chair while taking off his shirt on May 23. … Francona said C Roberto Pérez (fractured finger) and DH Franmil Reyes (left oblique strain) are feeling good on their rehab assignments with Triple-A Columbus. Francona said the team would re-evaluate Reyes’ status when it returns home following the trip from Minnesota.
Twins: RHP Michael Pineda will make a rehab start with Triple-A St. Paul this week as he recovers from right elbow inflammation. He threw a simulated game on Saturday.
Indians: RHP Eli Morgan (0-2, 10.32 ERA) will start the opener of a three-game home series against Detroit on Monday. Morgan will be making his fourth start of his rookie season after giving up four runs in five innings in a loss to the Chicago Cubs in his last outing. The Tigers are scheduled to start RHP Matt Manning (1-1, 3.38).
Twins: RHP Kenta Maeda (3-2, 4.85) starts Monday as Minnesota travels for a four-game series against the Chicago White Sox. Maeda hasn’t made it out of the sixth inning since April 7 but won his last start at Texas when he allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings. Chicago has RHP Lucas Giolito (5-5, 3.80) lined up opposite of Maeda.
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