08/04/11 8:14 PM ET
Mixed news for hurting Tribe outfielders
By Jason Mastrodonato / MLB.com
Manager Manny Acta said on Thursday that the sore right wrist that has kept Michael Brantley out of the lineup for two straight days has not shown improvement.
"He's going to take batting practice tomorrow when we get [to Texas] and we'll make a decision after that, depending how he feels," Acta said.
The good news, though, is that Shin-Soo Choo (left thumb surgery) took batting practice on the field for the first time on Thursday and will continue to do so when the team travels to Arlington for a three-game set with the Rangers.
"It went OK, no pain or anything," Acta said. "He's had some sensation in that thumb. It was a good session. He didn't let it go. He's probably one or two [sessions] away from letting it go."
Choo's quick healing has allowed the Indians to carry on offensively without the addition of a hitter at the non-waiver Trade Deadline. Acta doesn't expect the team to add anyone through waivers, though the team hasn't stopped looking for help.
"There's a very good chance that Choo is going to be back a lot sooner than expected, so we're just trying to stay afloat," Acta said. "It doesn't mean that if we get something before then ... That's good for us. But I'll leave that to [general manager Chris Antonetti]. I'm satisfied with all the effort we've put in so far."
With Choo out, Brantley nursing his injury and Grady Sizemore recovering from abdominal surgery, Austin Kearns has picked up more at-bats, specifically against left-handed pitching. Though July was the best month of the season for the 31-year-old, his batting average is still hovering around the Mendoza line.
"He has kind of an unorthodox hitting mechanics, and I guess for a guy who doesn't play every day with those mechanics, it doesn't make it any easier," Acta said. "He just dug himself into a big hole earlier in the year, and it's going to take a lot for the numbers [.208 average, two homers in 144 at-bats] to impress anybody.
"If we have our outfielders healthy, we probably wouldn't even need as much from an extra outfielder anyway, because our guys play every day, and they swing from the left side."
Carrasco drops appeal, begins suspension
BOSTON -- Carlos Carrasco dropped his appeal of the six-game suspension he received for intentionally throwing near the head of Kansas City's Billy Butler on Friday.
He started serving the suspension on Thursday and won't be eligible to return until next Thursday, against the Tigers. With the Indians off on Monday, manager Manny Acta said that Carrasco likely won't return until his next time around in the rotation.
Justin Masterson, who started against the Red Sox on Thursday, will presumably slide into Carrasco's spot on Tuesday. The off-day allows the Indians to pitch Masterson on usual rest.
Entering Thursday, Masterson had thrown 151 1/3 innings, which puts him on pace to pass the 180-mark he put up a year ago. But Acta said that Masterson has the green light to throw at least 200 innings this year, as does the rest of the rotation.
"Just about every one of those guys can go over 200," Acta said. "They're pitching good. None of those guys have even met the amount of innings they've thrown last year. They're fine."
Cleveland entered Thursday with a team ERA of 3.99. The rotation has pitched 655 innings, 22nd in the Majors.
"We have two months to go, and they've thrown really good," Acta said. "Any time you can have an ERA around 4 in the American League, you're doing well. Everything we have accomplished so far is due to those guys."
Acta explains use -- or non-use -- of Perez
BOSTON -- After his team lost two straight games in the bottom of the ninth inning, manager Manny Acta was asked about his philosophy on bringing in closer Chris Perez during a tie game on the road, when the Indians bat first.
"When I do use [Perez] on the road, it's usually after the ninth inning," Acta said. "I don't save him till the 14th just waiting for the save. But last night, in that situation, still having [Tony] Sipp and [Joe] Smith, I'll rarely use him."
The last two games may have gone differently had the Indians been at home, since Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon shut down Cleveland's offense in the ninth inning of both games, allowing the Red Sox to rally for a walk-off hit in the bottom of the inning.
"It depends on the magnitude of the game and also on the stage of my team," Acta said. "If we're in a crucial losing streak or if it's a very important game, I'll do it. And the majority of the time, it's when I feel like it's the heart of the order."
The Indians have signed their 16th round Draft pick, pitcher Ryan Merritt. The six-foot, 165-pound lefty was 9-3 with a 1.23 ERA for McLennan Community College in Texas. With the Aug. 15 signing deadline approaching, the Indians have signed 19 picks.
Manager Manny Acta has been sporting a new look over the last couple of days, wearing a pair of glasses strikingly similar to those of Rays skipper Joe Maddon. Acta had LASIK eye surgery performed on both eyes in 2003, and doctors told him that he might need reading glasses by the time he's 40 (he's 42), but the only trouble he's had has been seeing for distance when it's dark.
If the Indians lose on Thursday, it would be the first time they've been below .500 since losing the first two games of the season to the White Sox. They entered the game 3 1/2 behind the first-place Tigers.
Jason Kipnis has homered in four straight games entering Thursday, etching his name in all sorts of record books.
Jason Mastrodonato is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.