Indians feel Carmona close to breaking out
Acta doesn't believe hurler's current form resembles that of 2009
CLEVELAND -- Fausto Carmona's struggles this season have some thinking back to June 2009, when he was shipped out to Goodyear, Ariz., for seven weeks to work on his mechanics and mental makeup.
But Indians manager Manny Acta said Carmona's current state more closely resembles 2007. That's the year Carmona finished fourth in the American League Cy Young Award voting after posting a 19-8 record and 3.06 ERA.
Carmona's latest letdown -- he allowed six runs with two outs in the fifth inning, a frame that proved too much for the Tribe to overcome in an 8-7 loss Monday -- could have been easily avoided, Acta said.
With the bases loaded and the Indians ahead, 4-2, Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki bounced a ball toward third base. Cleveland's Orlando Cabrera was in position to field the ball cleanly, but the ball hit the bag and rerouted, allowing two runs to score. The next batter, Jason Giambi, slugged a three-run homer.
- 131 wins
- 121 wins
"If that ball didn't hit the bag yesterday, we would be talking about the positives of [Carmona] having back-to-back good outings," Acta said. "Does he bear some responsibility for walking the ninth hitter with two outs and nobody on? He does. But before then, he was throwing the ball so well and he expressed to me that he feels physically and mentally better than in 2007."
Carmona (4-9, 6.17 ERA) has allowed four or more runs in eight consecutive starts. In the three outings before he was sent to Arizona in 2009, he gave up 19 runs (16 earned) in 7 1/3 innings for a 19.64 ERA.
"Talking about the fundamental side, I feel fine," Carmona said through an interpreter after Monday's loss. "I'm working, I'm doing stuff, I'm making pitches, but I'm not getting the results I want. But I don't feel like I felt in 2009."
In Monday's outing, he yielded a run in the first inning and six in the fifth, but faced the minimum in the three frames in between. Acta took that as a signal that Carmona isn't far from ridding his demons.
"Our pitching guys feel that he's actually on the way to snapping out of it," Acta said. "It was just one big, ugly inning."
Acta said pitching coach Tim Belcher plans to work closely with Carmona before his next start, which is scheduled for Sunday.
"'Belch' might have found something," Acta said. "He's going to work with him on his side day [Wednesday]."
At this juncture, since Carmona is out of options, so are the Indians.
"We're not thinking about doing anything with him right now," Acta said. "It obviously has its limitations by the fact that he's out of options. Not too long ago, he threw 210 innings with a below-4.00 ERA in the American League. Those guys don't grow on trees.
"I know that everybody loves to go by, 'What have you done for me lately?' But you can't go by that approach all the time."
Santana has average at highest since April 11
CLEVELAND -- Carlos Santana has been on a tear at the plate. You could say he's been "Supernatural."
Perhaps it's the rise in the thermometer mercury as summer officially arrives. Maybe Santana enjoys Interleague Play. Whatever the reason, the Indians catcher has hit .471 (8-for-17) with three home runs, five RBIs and five runs scored in his past five games, including Tuesday's 4-3 loss to the Rockies.
Indians manager Manny Acta said he first noticed Santana start to swing the batter better during the team's most recent road trip.
"He drove the ball to the opposite field in New York," Acta said. "I think that was the start for him. Success builds confidence."
Santana's batting average is at .234, the highest it's been since April 11. But Acta cautions that this isn't necessarily the best Santana has been.
"The first 10 days of the season, he was money," Acta said. "But he's been good the last couple of days. ... Hopefully it's a start for him."
Regardless of which stretch has been more impressive, one thing remains clear -- the Indians would love to keep rocking to the beat of Santana's bat.
Feeling healthy, Sizemore eyeing turnaround
CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Manny Acta doesn't seem too concerned about his center fielder's lack of production at the plate. He's just happy Grady Sizemore is healthy.
In 29 games since May 1, entering Tuesday, Sizemore batted .179 with three home runs and 10 RBIs. In that span, he has just eight walks and has whiffed 43 times.
That stretch includes a stint on the 15-day disabled list after Sizemore injured his knee sliding into second base in a win against Tampa on May 10. Because of that injury -- and the microfracture surgery that forced Sizemore to miss all but 33 games in 2010 -- Acta prefers to wait until Sizemore shakes off the rust until he draws any definitive conclusions.
"The best thing out of all that is that he feels good," Acta said. "He's in a good spot physically, and if he is, he'll get through it and help us out. That's the main thing for us."
Overall, Sizemore's average sits at .233. In 41 games, he has seven home runs and 19 RBIs. That's a far cry from the player whose average season from 2005-08 was .281 with 27 homers and 81 RBIs.
To right the ship, Sizemore took extra batting practice Tuesday afternoon despite receiving the night off for the second contest of the team's three-game Interleague set with Colorado. Acta said Sizemore has been working closely on his mechanics with new hitting coach Bruce Fields.
"He's working with Bruce about not swinging across his body too much and using the whole field," Acta said. "He was stepping into the plate a little too much, which he normally does, but not as pronounced. ... Guys get into those type of problems of chasing and expanding the zone."
The Indians' bullpen had not allowed an earned run in eight games, spanning 28 2/3 innings, until Chris Perez yielded a solo home run in Tuesday's ninth inning. The Tribe 'pen entered the game ranked second in the American League with a 3.02 ERA. Reliever Joe Smith hasn't given up an earned run in 16 innings.
Lake County Captains infielder Jesus Aguilar was named Indians Minor League Player of the Week for June 12-18. During that span, Aguilar hit .409 (9-for-22) with two home runs and six RBIs for Cleveland's Class A affiliate.
The Indians announced the signing of 11th-round Draft pick Luis DeJesus on Tuesday, a right-handed pitcher from Angelina College in Lufkin, Texas. Tribe starter Josh Tomlin also attended Angelina. The Indians also agreed to terms with non-drafted free agent Josh McKeon, a right-handed pitcher from Upper Iowa University.
Zack Meisel is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.