CLEVELAND -- Travis Buck is hoping that switching to a different bat is the solution to his early season slump. The only problem is that the Indians' outfielder may have discovered his problem a little too late.
With center fielder Grady Sizemore expected to be activated from the 15-day disabled list soon, Buck appears to be the most vulnerable player on Cleveland's active roster. Buck is trying to worry less about that, concentrating more on solving his offensive struggles.
"Maybe I'm trying a little too hard," Buck said on Saturday morning. "I'm in such a positive environment that I want to help out the team as much as I can. But the Grady situation, I'm not worried about that at all. I'm just going out there and playing and things are going to take care of itself.
"I feel great. I'm healthy. The confidence is back to where I feel I can do damage up at the plate now."
The confidence is there after Buck borrowed Michael Brantley's bat during batting practice on Friday. After using a C243 model throughout Spring Training and early this year, Buck asked Brantley if he could give his C241 a try. Immediately, Buck felt a difference in his swing.
That bat Buck had been using was a 34-inch, 31.5-ounce strip of lumber with a thicker barrel. He used it in the spring and hit .393 over 20 Cactus League games. Brantley's model is a 34-inch, 32-ounce bat, but the barrel is slimmer, which Buck said feels quicker through his swing.
"Once the season came along," Buck said, "playing every day, the long days, the traveling, your body kind of tires down at times. I was still swinging the same bat early on in the season and I was like, 'What's going on?'
"I didn't really have much feel for the barrel. I was choking up a little bit, trying to find the barrel, trying to feel a little more comfortable. [After switching bats] I finally felt the whip and my hands going. The ball was coming off like it was in the spring."
After using the new bat in a 3-for-4 showing during Saturday's 8-3 win over the Orioles, Buck improved his average to .231 through eight games played for the Indians. Both Buck and Shelley Duncan have Minor League options -- meaning they can be sent down without consequence -- but Duncan has hit .300 in a limited role.
Buck has always been a slow starter -- evidenced by his .183 career average for April -- and he believes a lot of the explanation rests in the type of bat that was in his hands. Unfortunately, when Sizemore rejoins Cleveland's roster, Buck will likely be the odd man out.
Cabrera celebrates new baby with banner day
CLEVELAND -- The Indians would have probably allowed Asdrubal Cabrera to take a couple days off this week, considering he and his wife welcomed a daughter into their family on Thursday.
With a host of relatives in town from Venezuela, though, Cabrera's wife told the Indians' shortstop that she was fine with him heading to Progressive Field for Friday's game against the Orioles. All he did was go 2-for-4 with four RBIs in helping the Tribe to an 8-2 win.
"My family is first," Cabrera said. "I enjoyed that moment [on Thursday] and I was excited to come back and play the game. Sometimes when you have a baby you take off two or three days, but we were playing here.
"And my wife, she was here in Cleveland, and we had family come from Venezuela, she said to me, 'Go play. I'll be with my family and I'll be all right.' Everything is good, so I came to play."
Credit Mrs. Cabrera with an assist.
Entering Saturday's action, Cabrera was hitting .302 with four home runs, two doubles and an American League-leading 14 RBIs for the Indians. Cabrera's latest showing -- a pair of two-run singles on Friday -- made him only the second Indians player in the past five years with at least four RBIs in a game without an extra-base hit. Ryan Garko also accomplished the feat in 2008.
Perez enjoying one-inning appearances
CLEVELAND -- It is still early in the season, but Indians closer Chris Perez is enjoying the events taking place in the inning before he goes to work. Up to this point, the Tribe has been extremely proficient in the eighth.
Perez has loved that development.
"Definitely," Perez said. "Last year, when I took over [as closer] in the second half, if they got two guys on in the eighth, I was coming in every time. As a closer, I can do that once in a while, but every time gets kind of tiring.
"You get tired of it. It's like, 'Come on guys, do your job.' It makes it so much easier."
Entering Saturday, the Indians had allowed just one run overall in eighth innings through 13 games. That is good enough for a 0.69 ERA in the inning and the club's relief arms have combined to limit opposing batters to a .136 average in that critical frame.
A year ago, Cleveland relievers combined for a 3.99 ERA in the eighth with a .264 opposing batting average. Perez saw some action in the eighth inning a year ago, logging 10 multi-inning appearances.
Lefty Tony Sipp -- with his 0.00 ERA and five holds -- has been a big reason for the early showing in the eighth inning.
"He's dominating," Perez said. "He's only allowed one baserunner. It's the same with Raffy [Rafael Perez]. I feel good with him and with getting Smitty [Joe Smith] back, too. [Vinnie] Pestano's thrown well, too. I think we're only going to get stronger."