LOS ANGELES -- The Indians' current road trip has taken the club to a pair of National League venues, eliminating the designated hitter from the lineup. As a result, it has been the slumping Nick Swisher who has become the odd-man out for Cleveland.
For Monday's Interleague tilt against the Dodgers, Swisher was once again on the Tribe's bench, following a two-day hiatus from the starting lineup last week in Arizona. Originally signed to a long-term deal to be the Indians' cleanup hitter, the 33-year-old Swisher has found himself fighting for at-bats at times in his second season with the club.
"This year has been a crazy year," Swisher said on Monday. "I've been dealing with some bad luck, dealing with some adversity, dealing with some injuries. It's all kind of come up at once. It's the first time in 11 years I've gone through something like this. So, it's uncharted waters for me.
"I'm just trying to be the best teammate, trying to get my work in and go from there."
Heading into this three-game series with Los Angeles, Swisher has posted a disappointing .193/.284/.318 slash line through 63 games and 233 at-bats. Since returning from the 15-day disabled list, following a bout with a left knee inury, the first baseman has hit just .125 (6-for-48) with five extra-base hits and 21 strikeouts against two walks.
Indians manager Terry Francona has used Swisher primarily as a DH since the first baseman came off the DL.
"It's hard. We don't have a DH [in NL parks]. I wish we did," Francona said on Monday. "I don't know what we're going to do the next two days, but tonight he'll be ready to pinch-hit and we'll go from there. I'm just glad we didn't play in back-to-back [Interleague road] series. Then, you go six or seven days without having the DH. That's hard."
Swisher dealt with an early-season slump last year, but turned in a strong September to end the year batting .246 with 22 home runs, 27 doubles and 63 RBIs in 145 games for Cleveland. Swisher is waiting for a similar hot streak to help him regain his regular place in the lineup.
"Hey, man, this is one of those years," Swisher said with a shrug. "It's been a crazy first 200-something at-bats. I'm just looking forward to the rest of them."
Francona focused on days ahead, not past
LOS ANGELES -- Half of the Indians' season is in the books. To this point, Cleveland has dealt with slumps from some key players, injuries to others and unexpected trips back to the Minor Leagues for a handful of players.
The result has been a 39-42 showing through the season's first 81 games and a 6 1/2-game deficit behind the first-place Tigers in the American League Central. The Indians are not where they want to be, but do not expect manager Terry Francona to focus too much on what has already taken place.
"I don't think I've ever got caught up in that," Francona said prior to Monday's game against the Dodgers. "Our record, whatever our record is, I wish it was better, but I don't know that it does us any good right now to go back and assess halfway. When it's over, we will, and hopefully it'll be good enough.
"Those benchmarks -- last month, last week -- what's important is what our record is overall and what we do tonight."
Through 81 games, the Indians have posted a .254/.324/.394 slash line with 74 home runs, 341 RBIs, 357 runs scored and 590 strikeouts against 278 walks. Last season, when Cleveland captured the AL's top Wild Card spot, the club hit .258/.330/.426 with 94 homers, 377 RBIs, 392 runs scored and 675 strikeouts compared to 283 walks.
One drastic difference this season is that the Indians have hit just .232 (.636 OPS) against left-handers, compared to a .262 (.759 OPS) showing through 81 games last season.
Through 81 games on the mound, this season's Indians have posted a 4.07 ERA with a .258 opponents' average and 703 strikeouts against 272 walks in 725 2/3 innings. Midway through last year, the Indians were 43-38 with a 4.33 ERA overall through 81 games, in which they had a .252 opponents' average to go along with 664 strikeouts and 289 walks.
This year, Cleveland's starters have gone 21-32 with a 4.53 ERA, while the relievers have combined to go 18-10 with a 3.33 ERA. In 2013, the rotation went a combined 29-32 with a 4.52 ERA and the bullpen was 14-6 with a 3.99 ERA through 81 games.
Quote to note
"It's not as old as Fenway and Wrigley, but it's still Dodger Stadium. It's fun to play in places like this. All the new ballparks are trying to get this same feel, except with newer amenities. If you like baseball, this is one of the fun places to come, man."
-- Indians manager Terry Francona, on Dodger Stadium.
• Indians right fielder David Murphy was one of the team's better hitters through the season's first two months, but he has slumped to the tune of a .190 average through 23 games in June. Entering Monday, Murphy was mired in a 1-for-42 skid that dated back to June 13. Within that showing was a career-worst 0-for-25 drought for the outfielder.
"I think you've got to look past the numbers sometimes," Francona said. "I just think you go through periods where you make some outs, you get pitched to difficult and then you hit some balls at people. That, generally, is what a slump is, or when a guy's going through a down period. He'll be fine."
• Francona noted that Indians utility man Ryan Raburn was feeling better after dealing with whiplash-like symptoms (stiff neck and headache) on Saturday and Sunday. Raburn was banged up on a diving catch to rob Seattle's Kyle Seager of an extra-base hit in the second inning of Cleveland starter Josh Tomlin's one-hit shutout on Saturday.
• Third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall headed into Monday's game with a .350 batting average, but remained just shy of qualifying for the American League batting race. A player needs to average 3.1 plate appearances per team game and Chisenhall entered Monday averaging 3.01 PAs over Cleveland's 81 games.