CLEVELAND -- The Indians had good news Friday on a pair of sidelined players: All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis is nearing a Minor League rehab assignment, and injured outfielder Nyjer Morgan has avoided knee surgery.
Kipnis, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right oblique, advanced from hitting off a tee to front toss on Friday. Cleveland manager Terry Francona said the team is currently exploring when the second baseman can begin playing rehab games in the Minors.
"Kip is doing baseball activities and champing at the bit," Francona said. "We're working out a schedule for him to start playing probably not too far down the road -- next week some time."
On his way to a pregame workout, Kipnis said he was feeling much improved since injuring his side on a swing in a game against the Angels on April 29. Cleveland's orginal timetable for Kipnis to return to game action was an estimated three to five weeks.
"We're making our way -- ahead of schedule," Kipnis said. "We're not rushing it, and we're showing good signs right now. We're going to just take all the necessary steps."
Morgan exited Wednesday's game against the Blue Jays after the fifth inning, when he hit his right knee on the turf while trying to track down a double off the bat of Adam Lind, and was placed on the 15-day DL on Thursday. Francona said an MRI exam revealed a sprain of the posterior cruciate ligament in Morgan's knee, but the outfielder is not expected to need surgery.
"Now, we just have to wait and see how quickly that heals," Francona said, "to a point where it doesn't bother him and he can run. That's different for everybody. You've got to get the swelling out of there. Structurally, he's in good shape. I think that was probably as good of news [as we could've received]."
After thrilling promotion, Crockett makes Majors debut
CLEVELAND -- Left-hander Kyle Crockett was called into Double-A Akron manager Dave Wallace's office on Friday morning to receive some good news. Crockett was told he was being promoted, and the pitcher was thrilled with the idea of advancing to Triple-A Columbus.
Crockett did not realize that Wallace meant the reliever was actually heading to Cleveland.
"He was like: 'You're going to the big leagues,'" Crockett said. "My heart stopped, and I kind of just sat there and started crying. It was just a great experience."
Prior to Friday's game against the A's, the Indians promoted Crockett and optioned right-handed starter Danny Salazar to Triple-A Columbus. By calling up Crockett, Cleveland manager Terry Francona now has nine relievers in his bullpen until the Indians need a fifth starter, which will be Triple-A's Trevor Bauer, on Tuesday.
The 22-year-old Crockett -- selected in the fourth round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft -- became the first player from his Draft class to reach the Major Leagues in any organization.
And with Zach McAllister's early exit in the second inning on Friday, Crockett became the first of his class to make his Major League debut. He gave up one run in 1 1/3 innings of work. After McAllister gave up eight runs, Crockett came in with one out, and after issuing a walk, got out of the inning with a double play. In the third, he gave up a leadoff homer to Jed Lowrie and a single before inducing a pair of flyouts. He was relieved by C.C. Lee with two outs.
"Give our scouting staff a lot of credit," Francona said before the game. "This kid's not a real imposing, big kid, but he's given up two runs in his professional career so far. He's not going to be intimidated. He pounds the strike zone. He throw all his pitches for strikes.
"He's kind of a polished kid. There's not a ton of development left other than facing Major League hitters."
In parts of two professional seasons, Crockett has fashioned a 0.45 ERA with 49 strikeouts and eight walks in 40 1/3 innings across three levels. In 15 appearances for Akron this year, Crockett had a 0.57 ERA with six saves and 17 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings. Crockett held hitters to a .145 average overall, and he limited left-handed batters to a .118 (2-for-17) average.
Reaching the big leagues so swiftly was not something Crockett expected.
"Yeah, that'd be pretty fair to say," Crockett said with a smile. "Just hearing stories from other guys, I thought that the Minor League life would be a lot tougher. It's a long struggle. But I moved pretty quickly to Akron and then up to here. It's kind of been a whirlwind. It's definitely a surprise, but a very good one."
Quote to note
"It's kind of an exciting thing for the organization. At this time last year, I think he was facing the University of North Carolina. Not that they're not good, but that's pretty cool. He's not a big kid. In fact, it looked like he [just] turned 13."
-- Francona on Crockett
• Tribe left fielder Michael Brantley returned to the lineup for Friday's game against the A's. Brantley left Wednesday's game in Toronto in the fifth inning due to mid-back tightness and was given Thursday's game against the Blue Jays off as a precaution. Brantley entered Friday riding a 12-game hitting streak at home.
• Heading into Friday's game against Oakland, Cleveland's offense ranked third in the American League and the Majors with an average of 4.00 pitches seen per plate appearances. Only the Twins (4.14) and Red Sox (4.07) ranked higher than the Indians.
• Class A Advanced Carolina outfielder Anthony Gallas entered Friday leading Cleveland's farm system with a .346 batting average. On Monday, the 26-year-old Gallas was named the Carolina League's Player of the Week. Gallas led the Mudcats with six homers and a .989 OPS.