CINCINNATI -- The Indians are hoping that Grady Sizemore is on the verge of freeing himself from a brutal month-long slump.
During Friday night's 8-2 rout of the Reds, Sizemore went 2-for-4 with a solo home run and an RBI double. More important, Indians manager Manny Acta saw improvement with Sizemore's mechanics during his plate appearances, though the results didn't translate as fluently on Saturday as Sizemore went hitless in four at-bats during a 3-1 win.
"He was able to not swing around the ball," Acta said prior to the game, referring specifically to the at-bat in which Sizemore doubled. "He kept his hands inside of it, put the fat part of the bat on the ball and got a huge hit for us."
Sizemore posted a .313 (5-for-16) average with three extra-base hits over four games leading into Saturday. In his previous 26 games, dating back to his activation from the 15-day disabled list on May 27, the center fielder hit just .177 (17-for-96) with one homer, six doubles and nine RBIs.
Acta has noted that one of Sizemore's issues has been handling inside fastballs. The center fielder was striding too far toward home plate before swinging. That was making inside pitches harder to handle.
"He's been working hard, man," Acta said. "He's trying to keep his hands inside the ball."
Carmona strains quad while taking tumble
CINCINNATI -- Indians starter Fausto Carmona looked a little beaten up, and perhaps a touch embarrassed, after his abbreviated performance in Saturday's 3-1 Interleague victory over the Reds.
The injury that forced Carmona to exit the contest in the third inning, when he stumbled and fell hard while running to first base, was described as a strained right quadriceps. The pitcher also had bandages on his right hand and forearm, making it clear that more than just a leg issue bothered him.
For now, Carmona is considered day to day and Indians manager Manny Acta noted that the starter would be reevaluated by the team's medical team on Sunday. As things currently stand, Carmona is the Tribe's probable pitcher for Thursday's home game against the Blue Jays.
- 131 wins
- 121 wins
"I'll talk to you guys tomorrow," Carmona said after Saturday's win. "I'll know more then."
Carmona first ran into trouble in the second inning, when Reds pitcher Homer Bailey chopped a comebacker to the mound. The baseball hit Carmona between the index and middle fingers on his pitching hand, resulting in a cut in the webbing between the digits.
Carmona recovered the baseball and threw Bailey out at first base to end the second inning, but Acta was not sure his starter could stay in the game.
"We didn't even know if he was going to be able to continue pitching," Acta said. "He said that he was OK."
In the third inning, Indians catcher Lou Marson led off with a single, setting up a situation in which Carmona would attempt a bunt. Carmona squared around, chopped a pitch from Bailey to third baseman Scott Rolen and sprinted up the line to first base.
Rolen gloved the grounder and fired the ball to second base, where Cincinnati shortstop Paul Janish misplayed the throw for an error. During the play, Carmona lost his balance as he closed on first base. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound pitcher fell hard on his stomach and was in obvious pain as he shifted to his feet.
Carmona hurt his right leg and also scraped his right arm on the play.
After a brief meeting at first base with Acta and head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff, Carmona walked off the field and headed to the clubhouse. Pitcher Josh Tomlin replaced Carmona on the field as a pinch-runner. Reliever Frank Herrmann took over on the mound.
Carmona's injury came in the midst of a solid beginning to his start against the Reds. Over two innings, the sinkerballer allowed two hits and hit one batter, but he limited the damage early with five groundouts and one strikeout. Cleveland's bullpen picked up where he left off, logging seven solid innings to seal the win.
Carmona picked up a no-decision on Saturday and is now 4-10 with a 5.78 ERA in 18 starts for the Indians this season.
Buck hopes to avoid DL with strained hamstring
CINCINNATI -- The last thing Travis Buck wants to do is wind up on the disabled list for the Indians, especially after a variety of health woes led to five stints on the shelf over the course of the past four seasons.
"I think I've used my allotment up of DL time over the past couple years," Buck said. "That's out of the question."
Buck sat out a 3-1 loss on Saturday with a mild left hamstring strain -- suffered during the fifth inning of Cleveland's 8-2 win over Cincinnati one night earlier. Buck, who is day to day, still felt sore but was confident that he would recover in time to avoid a sixth career trip to the DL.
Indians manager Manny Acta indicated that Buck would be reevaluated by head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff over the course of the next couple days. Acta added that Buck, who has been the Tribe's regular right fielder with Shin-Soo Choo (broken left thumb) on the 15-day DL, was available off the bench.
"In an emergency," Acta clarified.
Buck said that pain flared up in the fifth inning, when he was a few steps shy of first base while running out a two-run single. The outfielder was considering trying for a double, but discomfort shot through his leg when he began to accelerate. Buck exited the game and was given a day off for treatment on Saturday.
"It's pretty tight," Buck said. "Fortunately enough, hopefully I caught it before it got a lot worse. ... Obviously, I don't want to push it. I don't want it to get worse. It's not bad. It's just trying to loosen it up a little bit."
Buck said the frustrating part of the injury was the timing. Over his past six games, Buck hit .333 (6-for-18) with three doubles and three RBIs. He said he was doing better at driving the ball up the middle and to the opposite field -- an approach that has worked well in the past.
"I've been really working on it in batting practice," Buck said. "It's definitely good to feel that it's working. I'm glad I'm starting to help out the team on a more consistent basis. Obviously, [the injury] is disappointing, but it's just a little bump in the road."
Phelps adjusting to role off bench
CINCINNATI -- Indians rookie infielder Cord Phelps is dealing with bench duty for the first time in his career. Phelps' playing time has decreased of late and he is doing his best to adjust to a part-time role.
"You just take everything in stride," Phelps said on Saturday at Great American Ball Park prior to a 3-1 win over the Reds. "Anything I can do to help the team, if that means I'm playing every so often, that's what I'm happy to do."
Manager Manny Acta's reasoning is simple: Veteran Orlando Cabrera was wielding a hot bat. Dating back to Phelps' promotion from Triple-A Columbus on June 8, the 36-year-old Cabrera hit .311 (19-for-61) with two home runs, four doubles and six RBIs over 17 games.
For Saturday's game against the Reds, Cabrera got the nod at second base and Phelps served as a pinch-hitter. Over the past eight games on this nine-game road trip, Phelps has started just twice. Phelps is hitting only .214 on the year for the Tribe but has a .308 average over his past seven games.
"It's tough for the kid," Acta acknowledged. "He has always played every day. But this is the big leagues and we're trying to win here. We're trying to put the best team out there on an everyday basis and Orlando has played very well over the last couple of weeks.
"We'll try to find at-bats for [Phelps], but that being said, the main thing is to win. I know it's not easy. He's not the only one. There are a lot of guys that are used to playing every day and sometimes you have to come over here and make the adjustment."
That is precisely what Phelps is trying to do.
"It's a little bit different," Phelps said. "But I think it's something every player needs to have the ability to do. I'll just come to the park and prepare myself like I'm going to play every day and then, when you get in there, you're ready."
Quote to note
"There have been some good parts and, obviously, some parts that need improvement. For sure, I can be better -- much better -- defensively, and I will be better. I've been feeling comfortable at the plate. I feel like I've been putting some good at-bats together and hitting the ball hard." -- Indians rookie Cord Phelps, on his first month in the big leagues
Indians closer Chris Perez, who is currently on the bereavement list, is scheduled to rejoin the team on Sunday in Cincinnati. Perez's maternal grandmother passed away recently, and the pitcher spent the past few days with family in Florida.
"He's having a rough day today," manager Manny Acta said on Saturday. "But he assured us that he's going to be here in time to join us."
The Indians' starting rotation will likely be shuffled after the All-Star break. Manager Manny Acta said on Saturday that he and pitching coach Tim Belcher planned on sitting down to discuss the alignment of the starting five out of the break. Currently, the rotation is Fausto Carmona, Mitch Talbot, Josh Tomlin, Carlos Carrasco and Justin Masterson.
Over his past nine starts dating back to May 17, Carrasco has gone 7-2 with a 2.55 ERA. His seven wins are tied with Phillies lefty Cliff Lee and Yankees lefty CC Sabathia for the most in the Majors over that time period. Carrasco's 0.98 ERA since June 7 is the fourth-best mark in baseball over that span.
#149; The Indians on Saturday signed 16-year-old shortstop Dorssys Paulino out of the Dominican Republic, according to Baseball America. Paulino reportedly received a signing bonus worth $1.1 million. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound shortstop is the son of former Major League pitcher Jesus Sanchez.