Luplow has been out since the final week of May with an ankle injury and was in Arizona with the Rookie League team rehabbing following the MLB All-Star break.
He has now made the jump to Triple-A Columbus, where he had a great debut Tuesday in rehab action.
— Indians Prospective (@indiansPro) July 21, 2021
Seeing Luplow swing the bat like that again is great considering his hot start to the season that saw him hit seven home runs in 36 games.
He was finally starting to find his stride in 2021, but injuries continue to keep him from playing a full season.
Now the hope is he can return at his earlier pace from this year.
A Patient Rehab Assignment
Luplow was placed on the 60-day IL and cannot return until the final week of July.
#Indians OF Jordan Luplow is playing in his 3rd rehab game tonight out in the Arizona Complex League. Luplow is the DH and hitting 2nd in the lineup.
— Indians Prospective (@indiansPro) July 17, 2021
That is coming up here very soon, however, it means he can ease back into action at the Triple-A level first.
One thing the Indians could realistically do is keep Luplow in Columbus on this assignment until they figure out what trades they are making.
That should not hurt Luplow’s chances, but the roster could look a bit different July 31 and the front office will want to find the best fits for those still around.
It is also possible no deals are made and Luplow simply returns without any major drama.
The Current Outfield Situation
Right now the Indians have Bradley Zimmer, Oscar Mercado, Daniel Johnson, and Harold Ramirez holding down the outfield with Rosario injured and Franmil Reyes also making a recent cameo in right field.
Luplow returning likely pushes Mercado or Johnson back down for now, pending any trades to free up space.
We know Luplow is going to get his job back based on how he performed at the start of the season.
The lingering concern is how his ankle holds up, as it seemed Luplow was frequently making headlines for injuries until he was eventually ruled out.
The key may just be him being honest if any pain starts to creep in, as opposed to pushing through and leading to something worse.
His impending return also means the Indians may need to make a long-term decision on either Zimmer or Mercado.
Will both stick around for 2022?
And what is Johnson’s timeline?
The passage of time only means younger players are continuing to rise up the pipeline and there may not be room for late-20s outfielders who have yet to have a breakthrough.
The same will be true for Luplow one day, but he appears to be safe for now given he can get healthy again.