DETROIT -- The Indians are hoping that a bit of recent history repeats itself.
Shin-Soo Choo saw his season turn around when Indians manager Manny Acta put the right fielder in the leadoff spot earlier this year, and now the same approach is being tried with second baseman Jason Kipnis. On Friday against the Tigers, Choo replaced Kipnis in the third hole and Kipnis moved into the leadoff role.
"We're switching things up," Acta said. "First of all, Choo's been swinging the bat good. He's hitting some extra-base hits. Once the lineup is rolling over, obviously, he's hitting behind the bottom of our order, which hasn't been that productive. We need him to hit with a couple of guys on the bases.
"It also takes some pressure off Kipnis a little bit. Maybe he'll get to maybe see some more fastballs, or just change things up for him."
Heading into Friday's game at Comerica Park, Kipnis had not launched a home run in 133 at-bats, dating back to June 17. Over his past 36 games, the second baseman had hit just .233 with no homers and 14 RBIs. His most recent six games included a 2-for-20 (.100) showing at the plate.
Choo went through a similar rough patch to start the season. The right fielder was hitting .209 on May 3, and Acta decided to give him a shot at leading off on May 14. Across 70 games in the lineup's first slot, Choo hit .310 with 11 homers, 25 doubles, 27 RBIs and a .382 on-base percentage.
Choo said hitting leadoff provided two things: more at-bats and more fastballs.
"I had a really good time in the leadoff spot," Choo said. "But lineups really don't matter. When I hit leadoff, the only real difference was a I saw first-pitch fastballs more often. And I got many at-bats. I started feeling more comfortable in the batter's box."
Indians set to add Seddon to big league rotation
DETROIT -- The Indians signed left-hander Chris Seddon over the offseason to add some experience and depth to their Triple-A rotation. Given his performance, Cleveland is giving the lefty another shot in the big leagues.
On Friday, Indians manager Manny Acta announced that the team is expecting to promote Seddon from Triple-A Columbus to start against the Tigers on Sunday. Seddon will slide in the rotation spot that was opened when the club designated Derek Lowe for assignment on Thursday.
"He's pitched very well at Triple-A," Acta said of Seddon. "Our staff felt that he could come up here and compete and give us a chance to win. He has pitched very well the whole year. He has four pitches that he throws over the plate. He's been good."
In 20 starts for the Clippers this season, the 28-year-old Seddon has gone 11-5 with a 3.44 ERA, piling up 108 strikeouts against 27 walks in 123 innings. The lefty has gone 6-2 with a 2.66 ERA in his last 10 starts, including a 4-0 showing with a 2.93 ERA for Columbus in July.
Seddon has pitched in 21 big league games between stints with the Marlins (2007) and Mariners ('10).
"He's been around," Acta said. "I don't think he's going to be rattled by being up here."
Seddon will join a rotation that has been laboring. Entering Friday, the Tribe's starting staff had gone 0-5 with an 11.93 ERA (38 earned runs in 28 2/3 innings) through six games on the current road trip. Along the way, Lowe lost his spot on the team and Josh Tomlin was moved to the bullpen.
Looming on the horizon is right-hander Roberto Hernandez, who is currently working through a Minor League rehab assignment while serving a three-week suspension for using a false identity (Fausto Carmona). Hernandez, who is slated to pitch for Class A Lake County on Sunday, is eligible to rejoin the Indians on Aug. 11.
Hernandez would likely assume one of the rotation spots held by Seddon or rookie right-hander Corey Kluber.
"We're going to see what the next two starts [from Seddon and Kluber] bring," Acta said. "But we're anticipating that [Hernandez] should be ready whenever it's time to bring him up."
Acta sees Tribe's makeover as effort to compete
DETROIT -- Indians manager Manny Acta does not want the ballclub's recent roster moves to be taken the wrong way. The way he sees it, the latest additions are a sign of trying to improve, and not a sign of throwing in the towel on the season.
"This is not bringing the young kids or giving up or anything like that," Acta said prior to Friday's game against the Tigers. "We're trying to improve in spots where we weren't actually performing up to the standards that we need in order to continue to compete."
Cleveland, which has been in third place in the American League Central since July 15, designated veteran outfielder Johnny Damon for assignment on Friday -- one day after doing the same with struggling starter Derek Lowe. The Indians have 10 days to either trade or release the players.
With Lowe out of the rotation, and Josh Tomlin moved from a starting to relief role, the Indians are giving rookie right-hander Corey Kluber an opportunity. Cleveland is also expected to promote lefty Chris Seddon from Triple-A Columbus to start against Detroit on Sunday.
To fill Damon's roster spot, the Tribe called up outfielder Ezequiel Carrera from Triple-A.
"We kept giving those guys opportunities, hoping things were going to turn around," said Acta, referring to Damon and Lowe. "It just didn't happen, and some of our young guys deserve an opportunity to get the innings and to get the at-bats, too."
Quote to note
"Every game is big, especially after the last two series that we had. But right now, we're not looking at the series. Right now, we need to win a ballgame. That's the main goal right now, win a ballgame and then go from there. We can't be talking about a series." -- Indians manager Manny Acta, on the series against the Tigers
The Indians held a team meeting prior to Thursday's game in Kansas City. Second baseman Jason Kipnis said, "stuff was said that needed to be said," but manager Manny Acta declined to elaborate when asked about the meeting on Friday. "What happens in the clubhouse, stays in the clubhouse," Acta said. "We have meetings at times when you guys don't even know about it. It's always good when you get to communicate with people."
Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner is expected to be activated from Major League Baseball's paternity list in time for Saturday's game against the Tigers. Cleveland will need to make a subsequent transaction to add him to the roster. Hafner and his wife welcomed in their second son, Trip John Hafner.
Indians lefty Tony Sipp has been on a solid run, posting a 1.88 ERA over his past 16 relief appearances dating back to June 23. Over that span, Sipp held hitters to a .157 average with 15 strikeouts and five walks over 14 1/3 innings. The lefty has lowered his season ERA to 4.95 from 6.95.