Guardians activate slugger Josh Naylor, sidelined more than a month with oblique injury

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Guardians activated first baseman Josh Naylor from the injured list Sunday, giving Cleveland back one of its best hitters for a September playoff push.

Naylor hasn't played since July 31, when he strained his right oblique in a game against Houston. The 26-year-old was having a career season when he got hurt.

Naylor is batting .306 with 15 homers and 79 RBIs for the Guardians, who are trying to catch the first-place Minnesota Twins in the AL Central. Despite missing the past month, Naylor is second on the team in homers and first in RBIs.

He was batting third as the designated hitter Sunday as the Guardians conclude a three-game series against Tampa Bay. Cleveland will host Minnesota for three games starting Monday.

To make room for Naylor, outfielder Oscar Gonzalez was optioned to Triple-A Columbus.

Naylor recently played a few games with Double-A Akron to prepare for his return to the Guardians. He is in his third full season with Cleveland, which acquired him in a 2020 trade from San Diego.

Manager Terry Francona has used as assortment of first basemen to fill in for Naylor, with Kole Calhoun, acquired in an Aug. 9 trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers, having the biggest impact on Cleveland's offense.

Calhoun is batting .271 with three homers and 16 RBIs in 22 games.