CLEVELAND (AP) Yan Gomes hobbled toward home plate on crutches to accept an award.
Sadly, Cleveland's catcher won't be getting back there anytime soon.
Gomes could be out of the Indians' lineup for two months with a sprained right knee ligament, an injury that dealt an early blow to a team expected to contend this season.
Gomes, one of the Indians' best players, sustained a moderate sprain of the medial collateral ligament on a play at the plate Saturday. The team expects him to be out at least six weeks. An MRI at the Cleveland Clinic on Sunday revealed the sprain.
''Anytime you lose him for any amount of time it's not good,'' Indians manager Terry Francona said after the Indians lost 8-5 to Detroit, which completed a three-game sweep. ''In the really big picture, it could have been worse. This is about what we thought after talking to the trainers last night.''
Gomes' leg was jolted by Detroit's Rajai Davis, who slid hard on a force play and clipped the catcher's right leg as he was extended like a first baseman making a catch.
Before Sunday's game Gomes was placed on the 15-day disabled list and it wasn't too long afterward that he teammate Michael Brantley, who missed his fourth game with a back issue, were on the field receiving their Silver Slugger Awards from 2014.
It was a tough sight for the Indians.
''We've got some guys who are more than qualified to step in and take up their roles,'' second baseman Jason Kipnis said. ''But it's hard to replace two Silver Sluggers and two leaders of this team.''
Not having Gomes in the lineup or behind the plate weakens the Indians, who went 85-77 last season and were in the playoff hunt until the season's final weekend.
Gomes is the club's top right-handed power hitter and a solid defensive player. Last season, he led all AL catchers in average (.278) and extra-base hits (49). He was second in RBIs (74) and homers (21) and handled one of baseball's youngest starting staffs.
''I think I used the word with Gomer a lot of times this spring where you like your catcher to be indispensable,'' Francona said. ''I think that's a pretty big compliment to Gomer.''
Francona is sure the 27-year-old Gomes, who dazzled his teammates with an athletic slide to score a run in Houston last week, will be back as soon as he can.
''Anyone who has been around Gomer for five seconds knows he'll overwork and he'll be back the minute he can be,'' Francona said.
Roberto Perez started Sunday's game in place of Gomes, and the team will call up Brett Hayes from Triple-A Columbus on Tuesday. The Indians are off Monday.
Gomes' absence was felt in the first inning Sunday when Perez overthrew third base on a double steal, allowing the Tigers to score their first run. Perez went 0 for 3 with an sacrifice fly in Sunday's loss.
Francona is confident that Perez, who homered earlier this week in a win at Houston, can fill in capably while Gomes is out.
''We're so fortunate we have Roberto,'' Francona said. ''I would say the biggest thing is that every single pitcher on the staff has not one single issue throwing with Roberto. He has a little bit less experience less than Gomes, not a ton, but some. But they all love throwing to him. We told him this spring, `Prepare like you're going to be an everyday guy because you're always one injury away from being an everyday guy.'
''Unfortunately that happened. The good side for us it that he can handle this.''
Perez played in 29 games last season for the Indians, who brought up the 26-year-old in July. He batted .271 with one homer and four RBIs.
The Indians also recalled right-handers Shaun Marcum and Austin Adams from Triple-A Columbus and optioned lefty Kyle Crockett to the minors.
Marcum, who has battled arm and shoulder injuries the past few seasons, allowed one run in five innings. It was his first appearance since July 6, 2013 with the New York Mets.