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Published: Sunday, 3/20/2011

Donald out for Indians' opener

Third baseman will not be ready to start due to left hand injury

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Cleveland's Jason Donald, right, is examined by trainer Lonnie Soleff after getting hit by a pitch on March 5 as Sandy Alomar, Jr., looks on. Donald has a small crack in the base of the long finger of his left hand and won't be ready for the Indian's season opener. Cleveland's Jason Donald, right, is examined by trainer Lonnie Soleff after getting hit by a pitch on March 5 as Sandy Alomar, Jr., looks on. Donald has a small crack in the base of the long finger of his left hand and won't be ready for the Indian's season opener.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge
GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Third baseman Jason Donald will not be ready to open the season for the Cleveland Indians because of a hand injury.

Indians trainer Lonnie Soloff said Saturday that Donald has a small crack in the base of the long finger on his left hand. Donald was hit by a fastball from Gavin Floyd of the Chicago White Sox on March 5.

"It is disappointing, but I'm already looking down the road, preparing to play," Donald said. "Getting hit is part of the game. It could have been a lot worse. I could have needed surgery and been out a lot longer."

Donald will not participate in baseball activities for seven days, then start a return-to-hit program.

After being hit, Donald came back five days later for a couple of at-bats, played in the field the next day, and has been sidelined since.

"Instead of getting better, it actually felt worse," Donald said.

Two MRI exams did not show the crack, but when Donald did not show improvement, he was sent for a CT scan that showed the injury. Soloff said that's not unusual with hand injuries, where swelling around a bone bruise often obscures a cracked but not completely broken bone.

Donald likely will remain in Arizona for extended spring training when the Indians break camp for their season opener April 1 in Cleveland against the Chicago White Sox. In six games, the former shortstop hit .308.

"The good news is that the CT scan shows early signs of healing," Soloff said. "We hope to have Jason in game activities in early April."

Manager Manny Acta said non-roster invitee Jack Hannahan and veterans Jayson Nix and Luis Valbuena are being considered to start at third while Donald recovers.

"Hannahan has had a good camp, but we would have to work through the process of him being a non-roster guy," Acta said.

Hannahan, signed to a minor-league contract as a free agent in December, has hit .400 with four doubles, six runs and four RBIs in 14 games. The 31-year-old has a .224 career average in 290 games for Detroit, Oakland and Seattle.

"There's never been a doubt about his defense," Acta said. "We told him he would have to hit his way onto the roster. There's an opportunity. We will make roster room for any player who makes us a better team."

Nix and Valbuena play primarily second base, but have seen action at third. Nix has hit only .136 in eight spring games and Valbuena is batting .226 in 14 games.

Lonnie Chisenhall, already sent back to the minors despite hitting .500 in 12 games, is not an option.

"Why bring him up for a week or two?" Acta said. "He has not finished his development and we are not going to have a knee-jerk reaction to spring training performance."

Chisenhall, the Indians' first-round draft pick in 2008, has yet to play above Double-A ball and likely will open the season at Triple-A Columbus at age 22.

It is the third consecutive spring an Indians infielder has been hit by a pitch in the same approximate hand area.

A year ago, Valbuena was hurt in the final exhibition game, but did not miss time. Jamey Carroll opened the 2009 season on the disabled list with a broken bone in his right hand.



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