CLEVELAND (AP)The Guardians are tossing Gabriel Arias into the deep end of the postseason.
Cleveland’s rookie infielder will make just his second career major league start at first base Saturday night in Game 3 of the AL Division Series against the New York Yankees.
The 22-year-old Arias will fill in for Josh Naylor, who jammed his right ankle in Game 2 on Friday.
Baseball’s youngest team, the Guardians don’t have many experienced options at first, and they feel comfortable Arias can handle the assignment.
”There’s some unknowns,” manager Terry Francona said. ”That’s for sure. I kind of own up to that. I think there’s a lot of unknowns with our team. I don’t think this moment’s going to overwhelm him. He looked more excited than anything.”
Naylor came up hobbling in Game 2 after beating out an infield single in Cleveland’s 4-2 win in Game 2. Naylor came back this season after suffering a grotesque break of his right ankle last season.
Naylor will be Cleveland’s designated hitter in Game 3. The best-of-five series is tied at 1-all.
”When Naylor kind of jammed his ankle yesterday, we knew he was going probably wake up sore, and he did,” Francona said. ”He OK to DH. I think he was a little concerned about going laterally at first, which totally understand.
”We felt like Gabby is probably a better defender.”
Francona’s other option at first is Owen Miller, but he’s 0 for 8 in the postseason and hitless in four at-bats against New York with three strikeouts.
Arias is one of the many rookies spread out across Cleveland’s roster, baseball’s youngest.
Primarily a middle infielder, Arias made his only appearance at first on Sept. 29 against Tampa Bay. A right-handed hitter, Arias batted .191 with one homer and five RBIs in 16 games.
Arias broke his right hand earlier this season at Triple-A Columbus. He played 10 games at first late in the minor league season for the Clippers.
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