CLEVELAND -- Call it a mentor memento for Jim Thome.Before Monday's makeup game against the Mariners, Thome was handed a game-issued Louisville Slugger bearing the name of one Charlie Manuel, the man whose influence on Thome was profound. Their relationship dates back to when Thome was in his first Spring Training with the Tribe in 1990 and Manuel was a roving hitting instructor in the organization. Manuel, who urged Thome to start using his now-famous bat point as a timing mechanism, wound up managing Thome in both Cleveland and Philadelphia. The bat was presented to Thome by Nobi Kuga, a reporter for NHK Japan Broadcasting Corporation. Kuga is based in Minneapolis and found the bat at a baseball card show there. It is from Manuel's playing days with the Twins in the early 1970s. "I saw Charlie Manuel in Houston last week and asked him if it's all right if I give the bat to Jim Thome," Kuga said. "He said, 'Go right ahead.'" The bat is clearly from another era. It's thin, the wood has started to warp and there is no tape on the handle. "It's pretty awesome," Thome said. "It's going in my office at home."
Chisenhall proving himself for next season
CLEVELAND -- The Indians can't really afford to enter the offseason with major question marks at both corner infield spots, and Lonnie Chisenhall is doing his part to provide a few answers of late.Chisenhall entered Monday with a .311 average and .911 OPS over his previous 11 games. He had four homers, a double and 10 RBIs in that span. "I know I feel better at the plate," he said. "When you go out there and get your chance, you've got to play well. Fortunately I've been swinging the bat well the last seven to 10 days. I'm happy with the direction I'm headed in right now." Manny Acta was initially careful to protect Chisenhall, who first came up to the bigs at the end of June to face left-handed pitchers. But a recent injury to Jack Hannahan forced Acta to remove the kid gloves. "It takes some guys more time," Acta said. "And seeing the lefties helps him. I don't foresee him struggling down the road against lefties. We see him as a good hitter, period, down the road. He has a very good swing. It's short and compact. He's not a guy bailing or leaking out the front side or anything like that. He's got four or five home runs against lefties. We feel he's going to be OK. Sometimes people forget that this guy was in Akron last year. He's only 22 years old. That's only a fifth-year senior in college." Chisenhall is hitting .245 with a .689 OPS through 58 games.
Tomlin likely to make one last start Saturday
CLEVELAND -- It is but a single start, but it means a lot to Josh Tomlin.Tomlin hasn't pitched since Aug. 24 because of right elbow soreness, but he's recovered in time to make one last appearance in 2011. The Indians will have him start one of the games in Saturday's day-night doubleheader against the Twins, assuming a simulated session at Progressive Field between games of Tuesday's doubleheader with the White Sox goes well. "It's going to be our third game of the day," Manny Acta quipped. And it will be Tomlin's last start of what had been, before the injury, an impressive first full season at this level. He was 12-7 with a 4.25 ERA, and his last start against the Tigers was the first of his career in which he failed to give the Indians at least five innings. He knows the Indians are out of contention, but this start, he said, will be a big confidence boost going into the winter. "For me, it's huge," he said. "I want to compete, and I want to go into the offseason knowing everything is fine, health-wise, so I can have that calm about me." Why didn't the Indians just let Tomlin shut it down and call it a year, rather than have him rehab for a single start? "We're not in the business of shutting a guy down if he's healthy," Acta said. "The guy is fine, he's checked with the doctors, gone through the process of more than one bullpen and the simulated game. It's not like we need to see him one more time. We saw him enough. But if he's good to pitch, why not? We don't run the risk of losing him long-term." Tomlin, though, will be on a slightly limited pitch count in the outing.
McAllister called up to start Tuesday's nightcap
CLEVELAND -- The Indians' hectic September schedule necessitated yet another callup on Monday, as Zach McAllister was officially recalled from Triple-A Columbus to make the start in the nightcap of Tuesday's twin bill with the White Sox.McAllister had a solid season with the Clippers, going 12-3 with a 3.32 ERA in 25 starts. He struck out 128 and walked 31 in 154 2/3 innings. But if he's going to be a serious candidate for a regular big league rotation job, he'll have to improve on the two spot starts that he made with the Tribe this year. McAllister gave up 13 runs, 10 of which were earned, on 15 hits over 7 1/3 innings in those two starts against the Blue Jays and Mariners. "Obviously the year he had in Triple-A, he has to be given consideration [for next year]," Manny Acta said. "That said, it hasn't translated up here. We need to see better than we've seen the last two outings."
Shelley Duncan, playing an everyday role at first base with Michael Brantley and now Shin-Soo Choo shut down for the season, has sizzled with more playing time in September. For the month, he's batting .320 with 10 runs scored, four doubles, six homers and 14 RBIs in 15 games, entering Monday.
"I think what has helped him is more at-bats," Manny Acta said. "He's had more opportunities to get up there and swing the bat against lefties and righties. That helps. In normal circumstances, he wouldn't be getting those opportunities, because we'd have Michael, Grady [Sizemore] and [Shin-Soo] Choo going out there every day. But it has helped him."
Right-hander Jason Rice, who was designated for assignment when Zach Putnam was promoted from Triple-A Columbus last week, has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Columbus.
Monday marked the beginning of the final homestand of the season. The Tribe will play nine games in seven days at Progressive Field before closing the year out with three games in Detroit.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, CastroTurf, and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.