Guardians Notes: Jose Ramirez takes over All-Star voting lead for AL third basemen

CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – Stuck in the shadow of Aaron Judge in league MVP talk, Jose Ramirez is starting to get the love he deserves.

Ramirez has taken over the lead in All-Star voting for American League third baseman according to the latest figures released by Major League Baseball Monday.

Ramirez, who jumped Rafael Devers of the Red Sox, has received 1,219,704 votes at his position to date the league said. Devers has received 1,185,906 votes and will likely face Ramirez in the Finalists Phase at third base.

This season, Ramirez is hitting .303 with 16 home runs, 63 RBI, 23 doubles, 45 runs scored, 12 stolen bases awhile slugging .618.

Seven-time All-Star and four-time fan-elected starter Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros remains in front with 1,156,474 votes at second base. Santiago Espinal (943,125 votes) of the Blue Jays is attempting to hold off Andrés Giménez of the Guardians (819,163) for second place at second base and to advance to phase two against Altuve.

Phase 1 of voting available through the MLB app, website and individual team sites closes this Thursday, June 30 at 2 p.m. eastern.

Phase two voting will determine who makes the All-Star team and starts for each league.

Long week – The Guardians and Twins will play five games in four days this week, an unusual scheduling twist.

“It’s a lot,” Francona said prior to the series opener Monday. “Especially in today’s game where you don’t play four game series too much anymore.

“I think we already know them, and they know us pretty well.”

Cleveland, which has lost four straight, is two games behind Minnesota for first place in the AL Central entering play Monday night after getting swept by the Red Sox over the weekend. Last week at Target Field the Guardians jumped the Twins atop the standings – albeit briefly and they hope for a repeat this week at home.

“It doesn’t change anything,” Francona said. “We still have to get hits and try to not let them get hits.”

Because of weather-related postponements the first two months of the season, the Guardians have played six fewer games than the Twins have to date and will be making those games up the rest of the way.

Francona planned to meet with his team prior to Monday’s game to warn them against the dangers of mental and physical fatigue.

“I know people [think] they get paid a lot on money [so] they shouldn’t be tired,” Francona said. “They’re human and get banged up and things happen and sometimes the mental weighs on you physically, which I don’t want to happen.”

Recharging Naylor – Josh Naylor was given a breather by Francona over the weekend but he s back in the lineup Monday.

“That really helped him,” Francona said. “Again, you hear me say it – you gotta do the right thing, even when it’s not convenient. You gotta do the right thing.”

Naylor, who will hit cleanup against the Twins, is hitting .278 with eight home runs and 38 RBI this season.

Double dip – Francona knows who will start both games of Tuesday’s day-night double header against the Twins, but the order is still up in the air.

Zach Plesac will start one of the games and Konnor Pilkington will be called up from Columbus to start the other.

Hedges update – Catcher Austin Hedges remains out of the lineup Monday but appears closer to returning.

“A little nicked up,” Francona said when asked for an update. “We gotta keep an eye on him so we’re going to catch [Luke] Maile [Monday] night.”

Third baseman Ernie Clement is the Guardians’ emergency catcher.

Hedges has been in and out of the lineup since tweaking a hip injury earlier this month against the Orioles.

The new guys – Monday morning the Guardians made the addition of David Blitzer as their new primary minority owner official along with local entrepreneur Matt Kaulig as a member of Blitzer’s investment group.

“Personally, I’m happy for Paul [Dolan],” Francona said. “I think it’s probably a pretty big weight [off his shoulders] now that he has somebody to kind of help him here, which I think is great. Other than that, he seems like a really good guy.”

Francona met Blitzer in New York but he admitted he was unfamiliar with Kaulig, a former University of Akron quarterback who owns a racing team, Leaf Home Solutions along with Kaulig Capital and Kaulig Media companies.

“I’m guessing he has something to do with that sign up on the first base side,” Francona said jokingly. “Yeah, I don’t know him, but I know he has a sign, so that’s good.”

Roster moves – Left-handed reliever Tanner Tully has been designated for assignment and Ian Gibaut has been added from AAA Columbus.

“We’re trying to protect our bullpen the best we can and have a little bit of a revolving door,” Francona said. “With two games [Tuesday] we may not be done with that, but we’ll see.”