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Indians’ Lindor likely to miss start of season

CLEVELAND — All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor of the Cleveland Indians will likely miss the start of the season with a strained right calf.

Lindor, one of baseball’s best all-around players, sustained the injury recently while working out in Orlando, Florida. He was checked Wednesday at the Cleveland Clinic by Dr. Mark Schickendantz, who confirmed a moderate sprain.

The Indians anticipate Lindor being out up to nine weeks, which would place his return sometime in early April. Cleveland opens the regular season on March 28 in Minnesota.

The loss of Lindor for any period is a major blow to the three-time defending American League Central champions. Lindor, 25, is an offensive force and elite defensive player, and he is being counted on to provide more leadership this season following the departures of outfielder Michael Brantley and catcher Yan Gomes.

A three-time All-Star, Lindor batted .277 with 38 homers, 92 RBIs and was tied for the league lead with 129 runs.

If Lindor isn’t ready for opening day, Indians manager Terry Francona has some options at shortstop. One choice could be All-Star third baseman Jose Ramirez, who has played 109 games at short.

Last month, Lindor signed a one-year, $10.55 million contract for 2019 to avoid salary arbitration with Cleveland. He has previously declined to sign a long-term deal with the club.