TORONTO -- When Indians manager Manny Acta heads to Arizona as a part of the American League's All-Star coaching staff in July, he hopes to have Cleveland shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera along for the ride.
"I hope Cabrera gets recognized and makes the All-Star Game," Acta said on Wednesday. "He has played like an All-Star."
On Wednesday, the first round of All-Star balloting results were released and Cabrera ranked second to Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter in fan voting. Entering the day, the Indians shortstop was hitting .296 with 10 home runs, 11 doubles, three triples, seven stolen bases, 35 runs scored and 36 RBIs.
Acta was hardly surprised that Cabrera fell so high in the voting.
"Nowadays," said the manager, "there are so many different ways to keep track of every team and every game. He's getting the recognition he deserves. I think a lot of it has to do with the way we have played as a team. It has drawn more attention to our ballclub."
If fan balloting does not ultimately net a starting spot for Cabrera, the shortstop still might make the All-Star squad through voting by his peers. Acta appreciates that the players have some say as to who will make the All-Star rosters.
"It helps," Acta said. "It helps some of those guys and also it means a lot to the guys when they're picked by their peers. It's a big recognition."
Santana's switch puts charge in his swing
TORONTO -- The Indians can only hope that they have found a cure for what has ailed Carlos Santana this season. On Tuesday night, the catcher gave a mechanical change a trial run and the results were strong.
For the past few weeks, manager Manny Acta and hitting coach Jon Nunnally have discussed the idea of eliminating the toe tap Santana uses prior to swinging. The catcher rid himself of that timing mechanism in Tuesday's 6-3 win over the Blue Jays and went 3-for-3 with a pair of run-scoring doubles.
"The big thing is for him is just being on time," Nunnally said on Wednesday. "He was doing a lot of toe tapping, and he has a lot of movement anyways. We just wanted to calm that down. We all talked about it with him.
"He made that switch [Tuesday]. The other days, he was still doing the toe tap, but we were still trying to get him on time. He was still a little bit late, but once we got him on time, doing only the leg kick put him right where he needed to be."
Over his past five games, Santana has hit .500 (7-for-14) and Tuesday's showing marked his first three-hit game since Opening Day on April 1. Entering Wednesday, the catcher has hit .277 with a .405 on-base percentage across his past 21 contests, dating back to May 6.
During that stretch, Santana has seen his season average increase to .228 from .196.
"[Tuesday's performance] was very important," Acta said. "Usually it takes a little bit to get used to [changing your mechanics], but he's hit like that before and he had a good day yesterday. So, hopefully cutting down on some extra body movement at the plate will help him."
Through his ups and downs this year, one aspect of Santana's game that has remained consistent has been his patience at the plate. Entering Wednesday, he led the Majors in the average number of pitches seen per plate appearance (4.46).
While working the count is one of Santana's strengths, Nunnally noted that the young catcher's timing issues have led to more foul balls and pitches seen.
"He's got a good eye," Nunnally said. "But he needs to go up there to hit. Then, when he does get his pitch, he's got to be on time to really do something with it. Sometimes you see a guy like him taking 20, 25, 30 pitches a night.
"You're going, 'Man, he's seeing a lot of pitches, but he's also fouling off a lot of pitches. Normally, that's what happens when you're seeing that many pitches. You're just missing those pitches that you're supposed to hit."
Tribe shifts gears on powerful Bautista
TORONTO -- If Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista wants to hit singles to right field in every at-bat, that is fine with Indians manager Manny Acta.
In the past two games in Toronto, Bautista has beat the defensive shift implemented by Acta with a cluster of hits to the right side, but the Major League's leading power threat has also played right into Cleveland's strategy.
"We don't care. That's what we want," Acta said on Wednesday. "I want Bautista, I want David Ortiz, I want Adrian Gonzalez, I want everybody I put a shift on to hit a ground ball to the opposite field and beat the shift. What I don't want is for them to pull the ball and put it in the blue seats."
Acta's shift calls for the second baseman to move to the left of second, putting three fielders on the left side of the infield. Through the first two games in this three-game set, Bautista went 5-for-9 with four singles and one double -- each hit going to the right side of the field.
"That's what the shift is for," Acta said. "In a way, it's not only done based on charts, where you see where they hit the ball on the ground the most, it's also trying to work into the hitter's head and make sure they change their swing and go the other way instead of launching balls into the seats."
Bautista admitted to doing as much when asked about the shift.
"A lot of the teams putting the shift on me has led me to try and hit the balls that way more often," said Bautista, who has hit 74 home runs, dating back to the start of 2010. "At the same time they're putting the shift on, they're pitching me away, which is something that I don't really get. That's allowed me to go to right field more."
That part of the strategy is aimed at enticing Bautista to hit the ball to the opposite field. If he gets a base hit, that is better in Acta's mind that giving him a good pitch to pull, increasing the chances of a home run.
"If I come here," Acta said, "and Jose hits nine ground balls through the hole to right field, I'm happy. Happy. Nine groundball singles don't add up to two balls in the blue seats. Those are eight singles in two swings."
Quote to note
"We felt that a lot of the problems that he was having were due to the extra body movement at the plate. Hitting is tough as it is. You've got to try to keep it as simple as possible. There comes a time when you have to make adjustments at this level." --Indians manager Manny Acta, on Carlos Santana's offensive struggles.
Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore was back in the designated hitter role for Wednesday's game against the Blue Jays. On Tuesday, Sizemore went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles while manning center. Over the weekend, he served as the DH three times against the Rays. Considering Sizemore returned from a right knee injury on Friday, Cleveland has been giving his legs a rest from the artificial turf in St. Petersburg and Toronto.
Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner remains on the 15-day disabled list with a right oblique injury and it might still be a couple weeks before his return. Cleveland plays nine straight games in National League ballparks from June 24-July 3, meaning the DH will be unavailable. On Wednesday, Indians manager Manny Acta said the club would not keep Hafner on the DL until after that stretch unless it is necessary for his rehab. "When he's ready, he will be activated," Acta said. "We're not going to wait until after that [nine-game period] if he's ready to come back earlier."
Chad Durbin has located his cut fastball and that made for a solid performance in May for the veteran reliever. In 10 games last month, Durbin posted a 2.84 ERA with 12 strikeouts and two walks over 12 2/3 innings. In 10 April appearances, the righty had an 8.38 ERA with seven strikeouts and six walks in 9 2/3 innings.
Veteran second baseman Orlando Cabrera received a routine day off from the starting lineup for Wednesday's game in Toronto. Indians manager Manny Acta said he simply wanted to avoid having Cabrera play more than five consecutive games on an artificial surface.