05/29/10 7:49 PM ET
Indians expect to call in 'pen reinforcements
Huff's injury makes move by Sunday necessary for Acta
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
Tribe's Hafner sits for third time in five games
NEW YORK -- Just as Travis Hafner has begun putting up more consistent at-bats, his playing time has become a little less consistent this week.Hafner, whose 12-game hitting streak was snapped Friday night, was out of the Tribe's starting lineup for the third time in five games Saturday. Manager Manny Acta said he wanted to give Hafner a break from one of the three consecutive day games the Indians are playing in the Bronx this weekend. "We chose this one [Saturday]," Acta said, "because it's a day game after a night game." Acta said the move had nothing to do with the Indians facing left-hander CC Sabathia. Still, it's worth noting Hafner is batting just .216 off lefties this season, and he was also on the bench when the Indians faced White Sox left-handers John Danks on Monday and Mark Buehrle on Wednesday. Regardless of the handedness of the opposition, red flags arise whenever Hafner is out of the lineup with any regularity, because of the shoulder issues that severely limited his playing time in 2008 and '09. Acta and Hafner both insist the shoulder has not been an issue this season. Still, Hafner has not been the seven-day-a-week designated hitter he once was. Nor has he displayed the power he once possessed. Of his 38 hits this season, 12 have gone for extra bases (four homers and eight doubles). But Hafner has certainly made progress with his production. He hit .378 (17-for-45) with a homer and six RBIs during his hitting streak. He's hit safely in 16 of his past 20 games since May 4, batting .375 (24-for-64) with five doubles, two homers and 10 RBIs, raising his average from .208 to .275. "I've really tried to get good pitches to hit and shore up my plate discipline," Hafner said. "That's made a big difference."
Acta sees improvement from Perez
NEW YORK -- Just a few years ago, Rafael Perez was one of the most dominant setup men in the American League. Now, he's a reclamation project, used sparingly as he tries to build his confidence and command back up.It's been quite a fall from one extreme to the other. But at least Perez's manager, Manny Acta, knows and understands the feeling. "A couple years ago, I was in the top five in the [National League] Manager of the Year voting, and [the Nationals] fired me last year," Acta said. "I was hotter than Obama in D.C. a couple years ago." Fates change in a hurry in the big leagues. But Acta said he has seen signs that Perez can get back to a level of respectability in the Tribe bullpen. Though Perez has given up eight earned runs in his past 7 1/3 innings pitched, none of those runs came in his past three innings of work entering Saturday. "We see the stuff," Acta said. "It's not like he's lost velocity. ... We're trying to put him in situations where we can build up his confidence." The Indians avoided arbitration with Perez by signing him to a one-year, $795,000 deal before the season. He is out of Minor League options, so he can't be sent to Triple-A Columbus without passing through waivers.
Tribe on wrong end on a couple of calls
NEW YORK -- In manager Manny Acta's tabulation, first-base umpire CB Bucknor was 2-for-4 in close calls at first base on Friday night at Yankee Stadium.It just so happened that Bucknor's two missed calls both hurt the Tribe. The first was when Robinson Cano was erroneously ruled safe on an infield single in the second. Replays showed shortstop Jason Donald's throw beat Cano to the bag by a step. Cano wound up scoring on a Nick Swisher home run. In the seventh, with one on, two out and the Indians trailing, 4-2, Donald was called out on a grounder to first, when Mark Teixeira flipped the ball to Phil Hughes. This time, replays showed that Donald's foot hit the bag before the ball hit Hughes' glove. Instead, it was the final out of the inning. Acta didn't come out to argue either call. "He is who he is," Acta said of Bucknor. "You've just got to live with it. Sometimes it goes on your side, sometimes it goes against you. He was 2-for-4 against us. You can't fight City Hall."
Alex White, the Tribe's No. 1 pick in last year's Draft (No. 15 overall) made his second start at the Double-A level on Friday and turned in another gem. White allowed just two runs (one earned) on four hits with two walks and two strikeouts in six innings. He is now 3-4 with a 2.68 ERA in 10 starts between Class A Kinston and Akron this season. ... Michael Brantley (2-for-5, two RBIs), Carlos Santana (2-for-4, two RBIs) and Jordan Brown (2-for-4, five RBIs) each had a big night in Triple-A Columbus' 11-7 win over Lehigh Valley on Friday. Santana continues to lead the International League in on-base percentage (.444) and walks (36) and is third in slugging (.572) and OPS (1.017). ... The Indians are 0-15 when they score two runs or fewer and 1-22 when they are outhit by the opposition.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.