ST. PETERSBURG -- Indians catcher Lou Marson was feeling better Sunday after sustaining a cervical (neck) strain in a home-plate collision with Rays center fielder Desmond Jennings on Saturday night.
Jennings ran over Marson in the third inning of the Tribe's 6-0 loss at Tropicana Field, though Marson held on to the ball to record the out and save Cleveland a run. Marson remained in for the rest of the third but came out after that and underwent several tests, including at least two concussion tests. He reported back to the Trop on Sunday morning feeling "fine" but still "just a little sore."
"If they need me, I could play," Marson said. "The more I move around, I'll loosen up and feel better."
Indians manager Terry Francona said the Indians' medical staff monitored Marson during Saturday's game, afterward and again Sunday morning, and they would check on his availability again after he ran and threw during pregame warmups. Carlos Santana was back behind the dish for Sunday's series finale, meaning Marson would only come in as a late-inning substitution or injury replacement anyway.
"He's doing great for taking that kind of a hit. Now we just have to see where he is as far as being able to play in a game," Francona said. "If he's not able to do [these pregame warmups], then he has no business going into a game. We just want to make sure we do it right."
Francona said the Tribe didn't want or need to put Marson on the disabled list, but they have been discussing their possible backup options in case something happens to Santana. Ryan Raburn is the club's emergency backup catcher. Marson, for his part, appreciated Francona's cautious approach to an injury that initially looked like it could have been more serious.
"They didn't want to mess around with something, get hit with a foul tip, get hurt. It's early in the year," Marson said. "Especially now with all the concussion stuff going on, I think it's good for like younger kids, things like that -- don't mess around with head injuries and things like that. It's probably a smart thing to do."
Indians, Francona surprised by Maddon's comments
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Indians weren't making much of Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon's public comments in which he said reliever Cody Allen intentionally hit Rays star third baseman Evan Longoria with a pitch Saturday night.
Maddon told reporters after the Rays' 6-0 win on Saturday that there was a consensus opinion in the Rays' clubhouse that Allen was trying to hit Longoria when he tossed a pitch at his buttocks in the seventh inning, assumedly a reaction to Desmond Jennings taking out catcher Lou Marson at home plate earlier in the game.
Maddon went out of his way to say that the mandate couldn't have come from Indians manager Terry Francona, but that he "would absolutely point to their bullpen" for the plunking.
Allen was surprised to hear about Maddon's accusation Sunday morning, adding that he didn't understand it and that it wasn't true true. Instead, Allen said he was just trying to throw Longoria a breaking ball inside to keep him from extending his arms and utilizing all his power, and that pitch got away from him.
Francona didn't understand Maddon's comments, either.
"I have my hands full managing our team. I think a lot of Joe, and I really respect him a lot," Francona said. "I just can't manage two teams. One's hard enough for me.
"He got a little ahead of me on that one. He lost me on that one. I'm not sure how to answer it because he got a little ahead of me."
Francona willing to utilize NL-style managing strategy
ST. PETERSBURG -- Terry Francona hasn't managed in the National League since his days with the Phillies, but he showed Saturday night that he's not opposed to breaking into an NL-style game.
When Lou Marson had to leave Saturday's game with a cervical (neck) strain, Francona moved Carlos Santana from designated hitter to catcher and spent the rest of the game without a DH. He let starter Trevor Bauer bat once and used a double-switch to avoid sending up a reliever in the late innings. Francona said it wasn't his first time burning the DH spot, and it probably won't be his last.
"I'm sure it's happened. That's not that rare," Francona said. "And with Santana, because of his bat, that could happen more. If we pinch-hit for Lou or you pinch-run for somebody, that could happen again -- just not because of injury, and it would certainly be later in the game.
"You can protect yourselves to the point where that will never happen and not give yourself the best chance to win all year. That doesn't make sense to me."
• The Tribe optioned Trevor Bauer back to Triple-A Columbus after his Indians debut on Saturday night at Tropicana Field. Cleveland carried only 24 players on its Major League roster in Sunday's series finale against Tampa Bay. But the Tribe did add right-hander Carlos Carrasco, who will start Tuesday's game against the Yankees, to the active roster after the conclusion of his five-game suspension.
• Francona kept left-handed hitters Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley out of the starting lineup Sunday against Rays lefty David Price. Kipnis is 0-for-3 with a strikeout against Price, while Brantley is 1-for-10 with two strikeouts.
The rest of the Indians haven't fared much better against the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, as they've compiled more strikeouts (31) than hits (29) in 119 at-bats against Price.
"We got everybody in there we thought we could," Francona said. "The whole league's like that. He's pretty good."