MLB Spring Training 2012: Cleveland Indians' Casey Kotchman Returns from Injury

Bill FordCorrespondent IIIMarch 19, 2012

GOODYEAR, AZ - FEBRUARY 28:  Casey Kotchman #35 of the Cleveland Indians poses for a portrait during a photo day at Goodyear Ballpark on February 28, 2012 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Rich Pilling/Getty Images)
Rich Pilling/Getty Images

Cleveland Indians first baseman Casey Kotchman was forced to miss out on seven consecutive games due to lower back soreness, but he returned to the lineup on Sunday and appeared to be doing well.

The Indians only played him for three innings as a precaution so he wouldn't overexert himself, but he seemed to perform with no physical problems.

In his first at-bat, Kotchman hit a single and went 1-for-2 in three innings played. He caught a well-hit line drive by Mike Moustakas completing an unassisted double play ending the third inning.

When his lower back began to bother him, he wasn't concerned and he had no doubt that he would be fine.

Kotchman woke up on March 9 with lower back soreness. He had never experienced anything like it before, but it still did not concern him.

Feeling confident that he was physically able to play, Kotchman participated in batting practice on Friday.

He fielded ground balls and played catch testing his lower back strength, flexibility and pain level.

All appeared to be well, and manager Manny Acta agreed stating that Kotchman was cleared to resume playing on Sunday.

Lower back injuries can be tricky. Sometimes the pain can go away and fool a player making him think that there is no longer any concern.

Kotchman appears to be fine, but throughout the week that he was out, he never had an MRI or other diagnostic exams.

He improved with massage therapy and core-strengthening exercises, which is great, but no one knows what actually caused his pain.

Lower back injuries are notorious for their persistent recurrences. In Kotchman's case, even though he seems to have recovered quickly, my concern for him is that all it will take is one wrong twist while at bat or chasing a ball, and he will go down.

There are a couple of weeks left in spring training that should give the Indians plenty of time to evaluate his condition and physically prepare him for Opening Day.

Kotchman will get some quality at-bats and playing time on the field to judge his pain level, if any pain exists.

There should have been a little more exploring and investigating to discover what caused his lower back pain.

In the end, Kotchman will likely be fine, and he'll be ready for Opening Day.