ST. PETERSBURG -- Tropicana Field has its critics, but the Rays' home dome brings back fond memories of falling in love with baseball for Indians closer Chris Perez.
Standing inside the visitors' dugout, Perez looked up and pointed to the upper-deck seats situated high above the first-base line. That is where he took in Tampa Bay's inaugural game on March 31, 1998, when Perez was just 12 years old.
"I sat up there," Perez said. "I sat probably in section 312 or 313 -- all the way at the top. My uncle worked at Tropicana, so we got free tickets. Me and all my uncles and my dad went, and I skipped school."
Perez remembered that lefty Wilson Alvarez started for Tampa Bay in their season opener against Detroit. That was the first time Perez was in the seats for an official Major League Baseball game.
"They lost 11-1 or something like that," Perez said.
It wasn't that bad. The Devil Rays only lost, 11-6, to the Tigers.
Perez, who headed into Tuesday's game with 26 saves for Cleveland, grew up in nearby Bradenton, Fla., where his dad still lives. Perez attended plenty of Pirates' Spring Training games in Bradenton as a kid and he became a big White Sox fan when Chicago trained in Sarasota, Fla., before moving their preseason site to Arizona.
When the regular season arrived, it was the Rays who earned Perez's attention.
"We sat all over," said Perez, whose dad had season tickets. "I grew up watching expansion baseball in the AL East. Good luck. It's not like they were given any favors."
Acta giving Asdrubal chance to work out of slump
ST. PETERSBURG -- If there is one player who Indians manager Manny Acta does not worry too much about, it's shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. Even when Cabrera is mired in a persistent slump, Acta maintains faith in the All-Star.
On Tuesday, Acta kept Cabrera in the starting lineup as Cleveland's No. 2 hitter, giving him a chance to work his way out of his current slide. The way the manager sees things, it is only a matter of time before Cabrera gets himself back on track.
"He'll be back at it," Acta said. "He's in pretty good shape right now, still. He's too good of a hitter."
This is not to say Acta did not consider giving Cabrera the day off.
"We think about that," Acta said.
Acta decided to keep Cabrera, who headed into Tuesday's game in a 1-for-25 slump in his past six games, in the lineup on Monday, partially due to who was pitching for Tampa Bay. With Rays lefty Matt Moore pitching, Acta wanted to have the switch-hitting Cabrera (.274 against southpaws this year) in the lineup.
Acta added that Cabrera was unlikely to receive a day off when the Indians start a sinkerballer such as Justin Masterson or Derek Lowe. If the shortstop does get a day off in the near future, it would likely be on a day when one of the Tribe's other three starters is on the mound, and a righty is on the hill for the opposition.
"It has to be the right combination," said Acta, who noted that he is comfortable with third baseman Jack Hannahan serving as the backup shortstop.
Entering Tuesday, Cabrera was hitting .274 with 11 home runs, 20 doubles and 42 RBIs through 80 games. The shortstop was hitting .040 in his last six games with 11 strikeouts in that span. Over his last 11 games, Cabrera has gone 5-for-44 (.114) with 14 strikeouts. Cabrera's average was .200 and .242 over his last 20 and 58 games, respectively.
"Right now, he's expanding the strike zone a little bit more than he was earlier," Acta said. "It happens. When guys start to scuffle a little bit, they want to do too much. He's just missing his pitch, basically. He's fouling off some pitches that he's able to handle."
Choo feels triple warranted after homer overturned
ST. PETERSBURG -- Shin-Soo Choo understands that instant replay proved he did not deserve to be credited with a leadoff home run in Monday's 3-2 win over the Rays, but the Indians' right fielder feels a triple was warranted.
After reviewing Choo's first-inning blast, which bounced off the top of the wall in right-center field before shooting back into play at Tropicana Field, the umpiring crew overturned the initial call and sent the right fielder to second base with a double.
Asked on Tuesday if he felt he should have been sent to third base, Choo nodded. Indians manager Manny Acta said, however, that the issue is not that simple.
"We always talk about that," Acta said, "but as a general rule, they just give the guy two bases. You just can't assume that the guy is going to make it to third. They don't want to open some kind of can of worms."
On the play in question, Choo had sprinted beyond first base when second-base umpire Dan Iassogna called the hit a home run. The baseball had already bounced back into center field, though, and it seems likely that Choo would have been able to reach third base on the play.
Despite those circumstances, Acta said ruling the hit a double was "pretty standard" under the current usage of replay. Asked if he thought Choo could have reached third base, the Indians manager smirked.
"I'm his manager, so of course," Acta said. "I thought he was going to have an inside-the-park home run."
Quote to note
"Just because a guy is scuffling, that doesn't mean a day off is going to cure him. If a guy is fresh, then you have to figure things out on the field."
--Indians manager Manny Acta, on keeping Asdrubal Cabrera in the lineup
• Indians lefty reliever Rafael Perez (on 60-day disabled list due to left lat injury) logged one shutout inning in his second Minor League rehab outing with Double-A Akron on Monday. Indians manager Manny Acta said Tuesday that Perez would likely be moved up to Triple-A Columbus soon.
• Acta said starter Zach McAllister was feeling fine one day after taking a line drive off his right forearm in the fourth inning of Monday's 3-2 win over the Rays. McAllister was wearing a pad and protective sleeve on Tuesday, but Acta said the pitcher was expected to be fine for his next bullpen session and subsequent start.
• On Tuesday, the Indians named Low Class A Lake County outfielder Jordan Smith the organization's Minor League Player of the Week for the period of July 9-14. During that span, Smith hit .571 (8-for-14) with one home run, eight RBIs and a 1.349 OPS. Smith was previously named the Tribe's Minor League Player of the Week for May 28-June 3.
• In Monday's win over Tampa Bay, Cleveland went 0-for-3 with the bases loaded, dropping the team's season average to .198 (16-for-81) with the bags full this year. That average ranks 12th in the American League, ahead of Oakland (.196) and New York (.191). The Indians rank last in the AL with a .118 (4-for-34) mark with the bases loaded and two outs.