CLEVELAND -- A new Mitch Talbot will take the mound for the Indians on Saturday. Talbot, who was demoted to Triple-A Columbus after a rocky first half of the season, said he changed "a lot" with his pitching mechanics.
"I wouldn't say my whole front side is different," Talbot said. "I've still got that leg kick. It's a little bit less, but it's more just keeping my hips closed. My lead arm is a lot shorter. It's not a big flail."
Talbot landed on the 15-day disabled list with a lower back strain during the All-Star break. When he was ready to return from injury, the club optioned him to Triple-A. In five starts before he joined the Clippers, he went 0-3 with a 9.49 ERA.
"My ball was really flat when I was here," Talbot said. "I just worked on getting it downhill again, getting sink instead of run."
Clippers manager Mike Sarbaugh said Talbot reinvented himself with his fastball.
"He gained confidence with his fastball," Sarbaugh said. "He has plus movement on it, and I think pitching off of that, Mitch found out that it's a good pitch and gets the hitters to be a little more aggressive, so his secondary pitches became more effective."
Now, Talbot is back with the Indians and eager to return to form with the big league club.
"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 is scheduled to start one of the games in Saturday's doubleheader against the Twins. It will likely be his last outing before the offseason, though Talbot does not think the impression he leaves will influence his candidacy for a spot in the 2012 rotation.
"I'll try not to put too much pressure on myself," Talbot said. "I don't think that if I go out and have a great one, I don't think that's going to guarantee me a spot for next year. And I don't think if I have a bad one it's going to not give me a chance to have a spot next year."
Asdrubal sets club mark for homers by shortstop
CLEVELAND -- Asdrubal Cabrera etched his name into the Indians' record books Thursday with his 25th home run of the season, a new high for a Tribe shortstop.
The All-Star eclipsed the mark of 24 set by Jhonny Peralta in 2005. Cabrera slugged a first-pitch fastball from righty reliever Addison Reed to right-center field in the seventh inning of Cleveland's 11-2 win over the White Sox.
"I just wanted to hit the ball, and it went out," Cabrera said. "I'm really happy. I'm excited."
Cabrera entered the 2011 campaign with 18 career home runs in four big league seasons. At the suggestion of former teammate Orlando Cabrera, he made a tweak in his approach at the plate and set his sights on the outfield fences more often. The adjustment has paid off.
"I know I have a lot of power," Cabrera said. "Before, I thought that wasn't my game. I didn't think it was my game to hit a homer, I just put the ball in play.
"I feel more comfortable at the plate. I'm making a good approach and swinging at better pitches, and I think that's made a big difference."
Cabrera is batting .276 with 92 RBIs.
"It's been remarkable what he has been able to do offensively this year," Tribe skipper Manny Acta said.
Hafner notches 1,000th career hit with double
CLEVELAND -- Travis Hafner collected the 1,000th hit of his career with a seventh-inning double in Cleveland's 11-2 win over the White Sox on Thursday.
The Progressive Field crowd of 21,487 gave the designated hitter a standing ovation, lauding the slugger's accomplishment after several injury-plagued seasons.
"It feels great," Hafner said. "I really appreciated the crowd. It feels awesome. It was a special moment."
Hafner, who has been with the Indians his entire big league career save for his rookie campaign of 2002, has played in 100 games in just one of the last four seasons.
"To get 1,000 hits up here, it's still a pretty good accomplishment," Indians manager Manny Acta said, "especially for a guy who has missed so much time due to injuries that he can't control."
Notching the feat gave Hafner a greater appreciation for milestones such as 3,000 hits or 500 home runs.
"You can look at 3,000 hits, and that's 200 hits for 15 years," Hafner said. "It's just unbelievable. Five hundred homers is 25 homers for 20 years. That's just mind-boggling. Or it could be 100 homers for five years."
Acta to use 'pen sparingly as season closes
CLEVELAND -- Do not expect more than a peep or two out of the "Bullpen Mafia" until next season. Indians manager Manny Acta said he will not push his workhorse relievers during the final week of the season.
"We're not in the race anymore," Acta said. "I have to be careful with those guys, because we have more baseball to play next year."
Rafael Perez (third), Tony Sipp (seventh), Joe Smith (eighth), Vinnie Pestano (15th) and Chris Perez (20th) all rank among the American League leaders in appearances. Entering Thursday's action, Smith had tied his career high for innings in a season, at 63 1/3, and Sipp, at 60 1/3, was three frames away from establishing a new mark. Rafael Perez has only topped the 61 innings he currently sits at once in his career, when he hurled 76 1/3 innings in 2008.
Acta said he will use his top relief options to preserve leads, but sparingly otherwise.
"When we have a chance to win the ballgame, when we're ahead in the game and the guys are rested," Acta said, "we're going to pitch our main guys. But we're not going to be throwing guys out there just to keep the game close."
For that, the Tribe will rely upon a slew of inexperienced hurlers it has called up in recent weeks. Nick Hagadone, Zach Putnam, Josh Judy and Corey Kluber have all stepped foot on a Major League diamond. Now Acta is waiting for them to get their feet wet.
"We brought some guys up," Acta said, "but those kids haven't had any success yet for us to trust them in any of those roles."
Fresh off winning the Triple-A championship, Columbus Clippers manager Mike Sarbaugh has joined the Indians and will remain with the big league club through the end of the regular season. Sarbaugh said he would like to manage at the big league level one day.
"I think your goal is you want to do the best you can at your job," Sarbaugh said. "I just try to take it one day at a time and one year at a time. That is a goal of mine, but I just take it one year at a time."
Tribe designated hitter Travis Hafner has two RBIs in each of his last four games.
Indians infielder Jason Donald is hitting .667 (8-for-12) over his last four contests.
Zack Meisel is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.