Notes: Barfield working on approach
On-base percentage numbers remain low for infielder
CLEVELAND -- The gingerly stroll on the basepaths is a foreign feeling for Josh Barfield. The Tribe second baseman rounds the bases in a home run trot about as often as he walks to first, which is not often at all.When Barfield swatted a solo shot off the Yankees' Phil Hughes on Friday night, it was his first home run in 70 games. When he was issued a walk by Chicago's John Danks on Tuesday night, it was only the fourth time he had drawn ball four in his last 31 games. Barfield is hardly billed as a home run hitter, so his grand total of three this season is hardly reason for concern. But his 14 walks in 110 games is a bit more disturbing number. Barfield's walk total ranks 170th out of 176 big league qualifiers for the batting title, and his .275 on-base percentage ranks 173rd. Manager Eric Wedge would obviously like to see Barfield get on base more often, but he doesn't want to harp on the walks. "People misinterpret that sometimes," Wedge said. "It's not about telling a guy he needs to walk more and see more pitches. [Walks are] a byproduct of the approach and the discipline you need to have when you go up there. If you're just trying to [draw more walks], then you're going from A to C, and you can't do that." Barfield, therefore, has been trying to improve his approach all season, though the overall results the last two months haven't exactly been encouraging. He's batting just .207 with a homer, 11 RBIs and six walks since July 1 -- a span of 33 games. In his rookie season with the Padres last year, Barfield drew 30 walks. He said he expects to walk more often as he gains familiarity with the pitchers in the AL. "It's not something that's going to happen overnight," he said. "It's something you have to work to. Most guys start walking more when they've been in the same league and have seen pitchers and know what they're trying to do. You just mature as a hitter." The past few days, Barfield, who has utility men Asdrubal Cabrera and Chris Gomez waiting in the wings to take some starts at second base, has looked a little more comfortable at the plate. He went 2-for-4 with a double Thursday in Chicago, and his homer Friday night was the Indians' only output against the Yankees. "A big part of hitting is confidence," he said. "The more success you have, the more confidence you have." Utility bill: Wedge said to expect Cabrera, a switch-hitter, to generally get starts against right-handed pitchers and Gomez, a right-hander, to get starts against lefties. Cabrera is a natural shortstop, so his use might lean toward giving Jhonny Peralta the occasional break. Gomez, meanwhile, will be used mainly at second and third base, as well as first. The Indians will have three off-days in the next week and a half, but they'll begin a stretch of 23 games in 23 days on Aug. 21 in Detroit. So Cabrera and Gomez will be needed to spell the regulars, in addition to making pinch-hit appearances. "These guys are going to get work," Wedge said. Pronk watch: Travis Hafner, as expected, remained out of Saturday's lineup with left knee inflammation and a mild hamstring strain, and the Indians were once again hoping to have him available to pinch-hit. On Friday, the club estimated that Hafner would be out three to five days. Wedge reiterated Saturday that he's confident that estimate will be correct and the injury won't drag out further than expected. Hafner might be ready to make a start at DH on Tuesday against the Tigers. While his teammates took batting practice Friday, Hafner took some dry swings indoors, meaning he didn't use a ball or tee. "Just killing gnats," he said of the process. But Hafner was hoping to take some hacks in the indoor cages before the game. Stanny's back: Evidently, Jason Stanford was a bit premature in his estimation that Aug. 3 was his last day in the Indians' organization. Stanford had made that claim after being informed he was designated for assignment by the Indians. But he cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Buffalo on Saturday. The left-handed Stanford has been in the Indians' system since the club signed him as a non-drafted free agent in 1999. He was 1-1 with a 4.78 ERA in eight appearances with the Indians, including two starts, this season. Tribe tidbits: Kenny Lofton was happy to see his old teammate, Charles Nagy, inducted into the team Hall of Fame on Saturday. "Charlie was a great teammate, quiet at times, until we got him revved up a little bit with the right encouragement," Lofton said. "When we wanted a guy on the mound with a big game to win, Chuck was that guy for us." ... The Indians went 23 games without scoring a run in the first inning -- a streak that came to a close Saturday night, when they manufactured a first-inning run off Mike Mussina. ... The Indians signed catcher Doug Pickens, who was their final selection in this summer's First-Year Player Draft, on Saturday. Down on the farm: Andy Marte went 3-for-5 with a homer and four RBIs in Buffalo's 10-1 win over Ottawa on Friday. Right-hander Jeff Harris and left-hander Juan Lara teamed up on a four-hitter. ... Right-hander Bobbie Brownlie gave up just two runs (one earned) on six hits over seven innings in Double-A Akron's 4-2 win over New Britain. ... Right-hander Erik Stiller gave up just a run on two hits over five innings, but Class A Kinston fell, 8-6, to Lynchburg. ... Hector Rondon gave up four runs on six hits over six innings in Class A Lake County's 6-1 loss to Kannapolis. On deck: The Indians wrap up their weekend set with the Yanks with Sunday's 1:05 p.m. ET game at Jacobs Field. Right-hander Jake Westbrook (3-6, 5.00 ERA) will oppose left-hander Andy Pettitte (8-7, 4.00).
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.