CLEVELAND -- Timing has been everything for Jason Donald this season.
The Indians infielder suffered a fractured left middle finger at the worst possible time in Spring Training, when he was fighting for the starting third base job. During a Minor League rehab stint, Donald injured his left groin and missed a handful of games. Then, he sprained the MCL in his right knee in mid-May while playing at Triple-A Columbus.
The series of injuries has stalled his return to the big leagues, but he finally made his arrival Sunday after the Indians traded second baseman Orlando Cabrera to the Giants for Minor League outfielder Thomas Neal. Donald is back, and his timing couldn't be better.
"I'm eager to get back anyway," Donald said, "but when you see what's going on and the team's in the thick of things, you want to be a part of it."
Donald struck out twice and walked in the Indians' 5-3 loss to the Royals on Sunday in his season debut. He was lifted for pinch-hitter Travis Hafner in the eighth inning. Hafner delivered an RBI groundout.
A versatile infielder, Donald will back up Jason Kipnis at second and Lonnie Chisenhall at third, and even spell shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera on the rare occasion the All-Star takes a day off.
"He does everything you ask him to do and prepares himself for it," manager Manny Acta said. "Hopefully we got him at the right time. He was playing well down there in Triple-A and he can help us out here."
In 47 games for the Clippers, Donald hit .310 with four homers and 15 RBIs. Last season with the Tribe, his first in the Majors, he batted .253 in 88 games.
It's been a long journey back for the 26-year-old, but he's appreciative of the chance to help the Indians battle for American League Central supremacy.
"It's been challenging, to say the least," Donald said. "I'm extremely grateful to be back here getting this opportunity. It really is humbling to think how the year started and how it's gone."