Murphy closer to returning; Aviles remains out

Murphy closer to returning; Aviles remains out

CLEVELAND -- It was a case of one step forward and one step back for the Indians' depth chart Tuesday night.

While veteran right fielder David Murphy (strained right oblique) inched closer to a return from the 15-day disabled list, utility man Mike Aviles was still dealing with whiplash symptoms. Murphy ran the bases at Progressive Field on Tuesday and is scheduled to begin a Minor League rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus on Wednesday.

"I'm getting pretty close," Murphy said. "Obviously, I want to get out there as soon as possible, but I'm trying to be smart with it and just trust what they're saying. I feel like everything has been on schedule so far. Hopefully, it'll only continue to get stronger."

Murphy, 32, has been shelved with the right side issue since Aug. 10, but has progressed steadily since injuring the oblique on a swing Aug. 9 in New York. In 109 games this season, the right fielder has hit .262 with seven home runs and 55 RBIs.

Indians manager Terry Francona said the plan is for Murphy to play five innings Wednesday before building to seven innings Thursday. Due to rosters being expanded in September, Francona said the Indians have some flexibility with when to activate Murphy.

"He may not be ready to play seven days in a row," Francona said, "but I'm not sure that doesn't mean we [can't activate him]. We'll activate him when -- a couple things -- one, he feels healthy and, two, he feels like he has his legs under him at the plate. We'll get some input from him, too."

Aviles was hurt during a diving catch in the first inning of Monday's 12-1 loss to the Tigers, but remained in the game for three innings. The utility man was checked for a concussion, but passed the tests administered during the game. Aviles remained out of the lineup Tuesday and could be sidelined for a few days.

"He's passed all the concussion tests, which is good," Francona said. "He still doesn't feel great. He's got the whiplash symptoms, so we'll keep him around here [Tuesday] to let the doc look at him again and then kind of go from there."

In 97 games this season, Aviles has hit .245 with five homers and 33 RBIs.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.