Indians’ Josh Naylor breaks ankle in frightening collision

CLEVELAND (AP) — Josh Naylor’s hustle and heart will be missing from Cleveland’s lineup for a while.

Naylor will need surgery after gruesomely breaking his right ankle Sunday in Minnesota during a frightening collision with rookie second baseman Ernie Clement.

Naylor, who has been a clutch hitter and bright spot for the Indians, smashed into Clement in the fourth inning of the Indians’ 8-2 loss. Naylor was sprinting toward a shallow pop in right by Minnesota’s Jorge Polanco when he hit Clement as the players were trying to make the catch.

The Indians said Naylor has a “closed” fracture and dislocation.

Naylor spent the night at Hennepin County Medical Center. He’ll travel to Ohio on Monday, accompanied by trainer James Quinlan and be evaluated at the Cleveland Clinic this week by foot/ankle specialist Dr. Mark Berkowitz.

The team did not give a timetable for Naylor’s return, but similar injuries require up to two months to heal.

The impact with Clement spun Naylor, whose right foot was planted awkwardly underneath him. Naylor immediately reacted in pain, rolling around and pounding his fists into the grass while calling for help.

His leg was placed in an air cast and the 24-year-old was carted off the field on a stretcher as his shocked teammates consoled Clement and gathered themselves.

“It was heartbreaking, man,” catcher René Rivera said. “It’s hard. A guy like him, a nice guy in the clubhouse. Really a lot of energy, positivity and seeing him go through that was really tough. You could tell the whole dugout was really in shock.”

Naylor, who was acquired by Cleveland last year in a trade with San Diego, has been steady contributor for the Indians this season. He’s batting .253 with seven homers and 21 RBIs and made several big defensive plays.

The affable Naylor has played right field and first base. The Canadian has also become a fan favorite because of his all-out effort, attitude and for batting .714 (5 of 7) with a homer and three RBIs against the New York Yankees in last year’s playoffs.

Naylor’s injury is the latest blow for the Indians, who have been overrun with medical issues but are just 2 1/2 games out of first in the AL Central.

The club is also without reigning Cy Young winner Shane Bieber (shoulder), starters Aaron Civale (finger) and Zach Plesac (thumb), slugger Franmil Reyes and Gold Glove catcher Roberto Pérez (finger).

Reyes could be nearing a return following a rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus.

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