07/25/10 7:20 PM ET
Westbrook awaits Trade Deadline fate
By John Barone / MLB.com
He's also a realist.
The 32-year-old right-hander has tried his best to block out the speculation surrounding whether he'll be dealt at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. But make no mistake, Westbrook would embrace the chance to join a contender.
"That's why you play the game, to play in the playoffs and compete for a [World Series] championship," said Westbrook, who is eligible for free agency after the season. "That's what it's all about, so if given the opportunity, I'd definitely welcome that."
Of course, he'd just as easily welcome another crack at the postseason with the Cleveland organization he regards so highly.
"This is a place I've been pretty much my whole career and where I'm most comfortable," said Westbrook, a veteran of nine seasons with the Tribe. "It would be nice to win here, but we're starting to do the whole rebuilding process, which I was a part of earlier in my career as well.
"It's tough, because you would like to win it here. Unfortunately, we weren't able to do it in 2007, when we had the opportunity to get to the World Series. But we did get the opportunity to go to the playoffs, which is all you can ask for."
Since that '07 run, which came up one win short of an American League pennant, Westbrook has watched the Indians ship off teammates Cliff Lee, Victor Martinez and CC Sabathia in Trade Deadline deals.
This year, it could be Westbrook's turn.
"To watch all that go down was tough, because those are all my guys I came up with and had some great seasons with," said Westbrook, who missed most of the past two seasons recovering from June 2008 Tommy John surgery. "They were a big part of my career, so it was hard seeing them get traded. But I also understood the market the Indians are in, how good those guys are and the fact that they were going to become free agents at some point. You could kind of see it coming.
"I guess we're sitting in the same situation again now."
These days, Westbrook is focused on regaining the consistency that once made him a force in the Indians' rotation.
"My arm feels amazing," said Westbrook, who is 6-6 with a 4.74 ERA through 20 starts this season. "First and foremost, that's what I've cared most about. For me, it's about getting back to form and what I was in '04, '05 and '06, to be that guy they can count on to make every start and throw 200-plus innings. That's what I want to get back to."
Tribe's Acta relying on Hafner to produce
CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Manny Acta had a message for Travis Hafner before Sunday's 4-2 loss to the Rays: Relax.
He might have also delivered this order: Hit.
One day after Acta expressed concern about the burly designated hitter, Hafner matched a career high with four knocks, including a double.
"I'm very happy," Acta said. "We need him to produce. No ifs, ands or buts about it."
Hafner has recorded four multi-hit games in his past six starts, but when Acta evaluates Hafner's recent plate appearances, he sees a player searching for consistency.
"He's working through some things," Acta said of the 33-year-old Hafner, who did not start opposite Tampa Bay lefty David Price on Saturday after going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in Friday's opener. "We came out of the Minnesota series, where I thought he took some nice swings, then he struggled again [Friday] night."
Most of Hafner's offensive production has come since June 1, a 38-game stretch during which he's collected half of his eight home runs and 15 of his 32 RBIs.
Acta isn't sold.
"I know that his numbers are better over the last month and all that, but right now, things are not right," Acta said. "When he's locked in, he's not chasing pitches out of the strike zone. When he's locked in, he can put the ball in play with two strikes.
"He needs to relax. He's a guy that expects a lot of himself, so I'm sure that he's not satisfied with the way things are going, but you can't change it in one at-bat. He needs to let it come out and not try to get three hits in one at-bat or five RBIs with nobody on.
"He has to take it one at-bat at a time, and go from there."
Sunday's 4-for-4 effort, Hafner's first four-hit game since April 23, 2007, was a fine starting point.
"I had a good day today," Hafner said. "It's something you look to build on."
Hafner hopes the consistency he and Acta desire will show itself following a mechanical adjustment Pronk has applied since the All-Star break.
"It's a minor change, but it seems to be going pretty well," Hafner said. "I'm basically just trying to see the ball better.
"I think it's a matter of being more consistent in my approach, getting into a good routine and sticking with it. Most of the time, I try to stay in the middle of the field. I've never been a guy who goes up there trying to pull the ball. I've gotten a little pull-happy sometimes this season, and that's gotten me into trouble."
Nagging injuries have sapped the consistent power that once made Hafner an elite slugger, but they haven't robbed him of his natural ability. The laser-beam homer he swatted against a certain rookie pitcher on June 13 ensures that much.
"You can't hit a home run on a 100-mph fastball from Stephen Strasburg and not have what it takes to be successful," Acta said. "Whether he's 100 percent healthy or not, he's still talented as a hitter. This guy has hit his whole life."
Tomlin to debut for Tribe on Tuesday
CLEVELAND -- Another Indians pitching prospect will make his Major League debut on Tuesday night.
The Tribe has tabbed 25-year-old right-hander Josh Tomlin to start against the Yankees at Progressive Field, manager Manny Acta said Sunday. A corresponding move will be announced Tuesday to make room for Tomlin, who is not on Cleveland's 40-man roster.
Carlos Carrasco's recent bout with right elbow stiffness did not factor into the decision, Acta said. Jeanmar Gomez and David Huff were also options to assume the rotation spot of Aaron Laffey, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday with left shoulder fatigue.
Acta has no doubts that Tomlin -- 8-4 with a 2.68 ERA in 20 appearances (17 starts) for Triple-A Columbus this season -- is the right choice.
"He deserves to be up here and get this start," Acta said. "He has done nothing but pitch well as long as he's been in the Minor Leagues."
A 19th-round pick by the Indians in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, Tomlin is 51-24 with a 3.20 ERA in 134 career Minor League appearances, 87 of which have been starts.
Reliever Kerry Wood, on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 12 with a blister on his right index finger, threw in the Indians' bullpen Sunday and "felt good," manager Manny Acta said. He will likely throw another side session Tuesday. ... The Indians' pitching staff entered Sunday's action having compiled a 1.98 ERA in its past 13 games at Progressive Field, a span of 118 innings. ... Right-hander Jason Knapp, acquired in last summer's Cliff Lee trade with the Phillies, fired a scoreless inning for the Tribe's Arizona League affiliate Saturday in his season debut. The 19-year-old Knapp, recovering from offseason arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder, began the season as the fourth-best prospect in Cleveland's system, according to Baseball America. ... Double-A Akron righty Alex White won his third consecutive start Saturday, yielding one run on eight hits with no walks and seven strikeouts in seven innings of work. The Tribe's 2009 first-round Draft pick is 4-1 with a 0.94 ERA over his past six outings. ... For more on the Indians, visit the CastroTurf blog at castrovince.mlblogs.com.
John Barone is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.