CLEVELAND -- Jason Donald does not like to look ahead, so there is no way he saw this coming.
The Indians infielder, batting .310 overall and .365 in his last 20 games, has been a steady force in the Tribe lineup as the injury bug has caused his teammates to drop like flies. This has all come after a difficult start to the season for Donald, who endured injuries to his hand and groin before finally making his way back to a big league diamond on July 31.
"When I was going through some of that stuff, the main goal was to get healthy," Donald said. "I wasn't looking too far down the line, because I think that just causes more frustration. You want to be out there playing."
Now healthy, Donald has sparked the Tribe's offense. Entering Wednesday's action, he had seven hits in his last nine trips to the plate.
"He's swinging the bat really well," manager Manny Acta said. "He's been really good since he came up. He's really given us a lift."
Asdrubal hopes to return to lineup on Thursday
CLEVELAND -- Asdrubal Cabrera wants everyone to know that he feels perfectly fine.
"I'm much better today," Cabrera said, adding that others were much more concerned about his mid-back strain than he was. "I feel normal."
The Indians shortstop suffered the strain during a swing in his final at-bat of the first game of Tuesday's doubleheader against the White Sox. Following the 4-3 win, he said the pain had subsided.
Cabrera, who manager Manny Acta said would have received the nightcap off anyway, did not play Tuesday night and was not penciled into the starting lineup for Wednesday's contest. Still, the All-Star said he was ready to play and was available off the bench.
"I think I'll be in there [Thursday] for sure," Cabrera said.
Cabrera took some swings off a tee in the batting cages on Wednesday and played catch on the field.
"He could be used if we have to," Acta said. "I'm anticipating giving him the day today and then playing him tomorrow if he shows up even better than today."
Cabrera is batting .274 this season, including .615 (8-for-13) in his last three games. In the 16 games prior to his recent mini-surge, he hit just .115 (7-for-61). Cabrera tied the franchise record for homers by a shortstop on Tuesday with his 24th.
Tomlin shut down; Talbot to start Saturday
CLEVELAND -- Josh Tomlin wanted to make one final start, but, despite a clean bill of health, he will not get that opportunity.
The Indians have shut down the right-hander for the rest of the season, opting to start Mitch Talbot for one of the games in Saturday's doubleheader, rather than deploy Tomlin, who completed his rehab from right elbow soreness with a simulated game on Tuesday.
"We've seen enough of Tomlin," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "If he's healthy, it makes no sense to push him."
Tomlin, who has not pitched since Aug. 24, threw 45 pitches to hitters between games during Tuesday's twin bill. Acta said the club's plan called for Tomlin to return to a big league mound only if the team was still in contention. The Indians wanted Tomlin to finish his recovery process before informing him his season was over. That way, they could ensure he was fully healthy before the offseason arrived.
"Once we fell out of the race, we were not just going to call off his rehab," Acta said. "After he finished everything and felt well, it makes no sense for him to pitch another game."
Tomlin maintained throughout the course of his recovery that he wanted to pitch again before the end of the season, regardless of the team's standing.
"We had to have a conversation with him to convince him that shutting him down was the right thing to do," Acta said.
Though disappointed he will not be handed the ball Saturday, Tomlin is relieved that he will enter the offseason injury-free.
"The positive was feeling good today after that simulated game yesterday," Tomlin said. "Right now, I just want to be healthy going into the offseason."
Tomlin's loss is Talbot's gain, as the right-hander will get the nod on Saturday. Talbot was last seen in Cleveland when he served up eight runs and 11 hits in a loss to Toronto on July 8. He then landed on the 15-day disabled list with a lower back strain before being optioned to Triple-A.
"It was a demotion," Talbot said. "It's kind of something to get you going. You realize you have some stuff to work on and you kind of get humbled a little bit and get going on fixing things."
Talbot posted a 4-2 record and 4.26 ERA in 12 appearances (seven starts) for the Clippers, who captured the Triple-A championship on Tuesday. He said he made "a lot" of mechanical changes while at Columbus.
"You're wondering if you're ever going to get it back or if you're never going to be good again," Talbot said. "But we figured things out and I have been good again."
Quotes to note
"I'm OK. I'm the only one left to go down. But I'm OK. I've got one more week to go."
-- Indians skipper Manny Acta, after giving details of Asdrubal Cabrera's mid-back strain, on the team's wealth of injuries
-- Acta, on White Sox shortstop Omar Vizquel, 44, who announced Wednesday that he plans to return for his 24th Major League season in 2012
Only one player in Indians history experienced a jump in home runs from one season to the next greater than the leap Tribe shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera has made from last year to this year. Cabrera, who hit just three taters in 2010, tied the franchise record for homers by a shortstop in a season with his 24th in the first game of Tuesday's doubleheader. Ed Morgan hit 26 long balls in 1930 after hitting only two a year earlier. The Indians will hold a youth hockey tournament Nov. 21-27 during their Snow Days promotion at Progressive Field. Playing at three locations in Northeast Ohio, including The Frozen Diamond at the ballpark, 48 teams will participate in the tournament. The competition will be open to both boys and girls and feature a number of age divisions. Ohio State and Michigan will battle in The Frozen Diamond Faceoff on Jan. 15.
Zack Meisel is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.