Tribe dips into international pool with Soto
Young Dominican projects as corner outfielder with power from right side
KANSAS CITY -- The Indians boast one of the largest international signing bonus pools in baseball this summer, helping the club's chances of potentially reeling in some top amateur talent.
On Tuesday, when Major League teams were permitted to begin offering contracts to international prospects, Cleveland reached an agreement with Dominican outfielder Junior Soto. MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez confirmed the signing, which was valued at $600,000.
The 16-year-old Soto (reported to be 6-foot-2, 190 pounds) projects as a corner outfielder with good right-handed power.
This year, the Indians have a signing bonus pool of $3,636,900, which is the fifth-highest allotment for this summer's crop of international talent. The pools were determined by the reverse order of the 2012 Major League standings.
Kipnis turning page following stellar June
KANSAS CITY -- In the wake of his incredible June showing, Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has heard some of the comparisons. Names such as George Sisler, Tris Speaker and Ty Cobb have come up when researching previous months similar to the one Kipnis just fashioned.
"It's pretty cool to hear your name in the likes of some of the other ones and how many years it's been," Kipnis said prior to Tuesday's series opener against the Royals. "Any time you're in a sentence with Ty Cobb, more times than not, it's usually a good thing. More times than not. In this case, it's a great thing.
"It was a great month. I definitely enjoyed it. I definitely love the fact that we are winning games and we're in first place now. But, it's July now. New month. I get to start back over in terms of that. Hopefully the team keeps some momentum going."
Across the month of June, Kipnis posted a slash line that included a .419 batting average to go along with a .517 on-base percentage and a .699 slugging percentage. The second baseman also mixed in four home runs, 12 doubles, one triple, 17 runs, 20 walks, 25 RBIs, 39 hits and nine stolen bases.
Dating to 1916, the only other players to post a slash line that good with at least nine stolen bases in one month are Sisler (June 1920) and Cobb (June 1917). The only other hitters in Indians history to match Kipnis' slash line in a single month are Speaker (July and September 1923) and Joe Sewell (August 1923).
Over the past 20 seasons, only Barry Bonds (August 2002) and Frank Thomas (May 1997 and May '94) have matched Kipnis' slash line with at least 20 walks and 25 RBIs.
"There was no big drastic change in approach or my swing that has led to this," said Kipnis, who entered Tuesday hitting .299 after having a .189 average on May 1. "When I'm going well, in the past I've been prone to either get greedy with some swings or go away with the approach that's working in certain situations. This time I've stayed the same game in, game out against lefty or righty.
"There's been some times where I've wanted to pull the ball, but I've stayed with my approach and have stayed through the ball and have gone to left field. It's led to being a more consistent hitter in the last month. That's literally all it's been. It's been not wandering too far off the path that's working for me."
Kipnis is a strong contender for the American League's Player of the Month honor, especially after capturing a pair of AL Player of the Week awards in June. On Monday, Kipnis was named the AL's Player of the Week for the month's final week.
"He did it again? Good for him," manager Terry Francona said. "I know when he steps into the batter's box, we feel pretty good, and I think he does, too."
Indians hoping Myers' setback isn't serious
KANSAS CITY -- Brett Myers has encountered another setback in his comeback from the right elbow injury that has sidelined the pitcher since late April. The Indians are hoping the latest issue is not a sign of a more serious problem.
"Hopefully it's a bump in the road," manager Terry Francona said. "That's what the hope is."
Myers, who is currently on the 60-day disabled list, felt discomfort once again in his throwing elbow while warming up prior to a Minor League rehab assignment on Monday night. Francona said that Myers was then scratched from the planned two-inning outing, and will not pick up a baseball for at least the next three to five days.
Myers underwent an MRI exam, but the results came back clean.
Francona said the pitcher will be re-evaluated once the Indians return to Cleveland.
"The scan came back good, which is good. It's just now we've got to figure out the plan," Francona said. "It kind of is what it is. He's got a lot of wear and tear. When we get back home, we'll sit and talk to him and kind of see how he wants to progress with it."
Myers, 32, signed a one-year contract worth $7 million to be Cleveland's No. 3 starter this season, but landed on the disabled list with the right elbow injury after going 0-3 with an 8.02 ERA in four appearances. It was recently determined that he would transition to a relief role rather than trying to return as a starter.
"He wants desperately to help us out," Francona said. "I think we all thought starting was out of the question, so we'd go the bullpen route. I think a lot of it will be determined on how he feels next time he picks up a ball."
Quote to note
"When I go in a slump, I'm not trying to re-create hitting. I know it's still in there. I know my swing still has the potential to get hot. So, no huge changes are really made anymore. It's just, 'How can I get back to where I was before?' And, once I'm there it's, 'How can I continue to stay there?'"
--Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis
• Given Nick Swisher's left shoulder issues earlier this season, manager Terry Francona has been hesitant to use the versatile first baseman as a part-time right fielder lately. On Tuesday, Swisher was in the Tribe's starting lineup in right field for only the second time since May 10. Swisher told Francona he felt well enough to handle it, especially with the off-day on Monday.
Swisher was in right field to help fill the gap left by center fielder Michael Bourn, who is scheduled to be activated from MLB's paternity list on Wednesday. With Bourn still away from the team on Tuesday, right fielder Drew Stubbs slid over to center against the Royals. Francona said he would go back to the regular rotation of using Swisher at first base or designated hitter following Bourn's return.
• Francona noted that Indians right-hander Zach McAllister, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a right middle finger sprain, threw a 45-pitch bullpen session with no issues on Tuesday. McAllister threw only fastballs and changeups in the mound working, and is tentatively slated to do another bullpen session on Thursday.
• Right-hander Carlos Carrasco, who is currently with Triple-A Columbus, is scheduled to be recalled to start again for the Indians on Saturday against the Tigers, according to Francona. The Indians manager said Carrasco would likely log one or two innings at Triple-A as a tune-up for the return to the Tribe's rotation.
• Indians sinkerballer Justin Masterson has 10 wins and three shutouts, making him the first Cleveland pitcher to achieve both benchmarks prior to the All-Star break since Gaylord Perry (15 wins, three shutouts) in 1974. Over the last 19 years, only Masterson, Roy Halladay (2010), Chris Carpenter (2005), Dontrelle Willis (2005) and Greg Maddux (1998) have accomplished the feat.