04/25/12 12:14 AM ET
Cabrera returns after death of grandfather
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
"We are better with him," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "I don't think that's a secret."
Cabrera spent much of the past week back home in Venezuela to be with his family after the death of his grandfather. His passing was sudden and tough on the shortstop, who was on Major League Baseball's bereavement list while he missed the Tribe's six-game swing through Seattle and Oakland.
"We were very close," Cabrera said.
Cabrera was back in the starting lineup at shortstop for Tuesday's game against the Royals, and in his usual spot as the Indians' No. 2 hitter. He went 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored in Cleveland's 4-3 victory.
In Cabrera's absence, utility man Jason Donald filled in admirably at shortstop and the Indians won four of the six games he missed.
Acta was thrilled to see that his club did not miss a beat while Cabrera was away.
"It's a team effort," Acta said. "I'm happy that we were able to go 4-2 without him. But, everybody here is a Major Leaguer. We have won games here when [Travis] Hafner has had a day. We've won games with [Carlos] Santana taking a day off and so on.
"What was impressive is it was six games -- it wasn't just a day off. It was good that Donald got some regular playing time and some at-bats."
Cabrera, who was batting .282 with two home runs and three RBIs through eight games for the Tribe before Tuesday, was officially activated from the bereavement list on Monday's team off-day. In order to clear room on the roster, Cleveland optioned lefty reliever Nick Hagadone to Triple-A Columbus. Hagadone was promoted to the big leagues when Cabrera left the team on April 17.
Hagadone posted a 2.70 ERA in his three relief appearances for the Indians.
"We've liked the way he's thrown the ball since Spring Training," Acta said. "He still has some work to do with his command of his pitches. He's not afraid to compete here and we wouldn't be afraid to have him later on to contribute here. But, right now, our bullpen is fine and he needs to continue to work. He'll have his time up here."
Ailments in the outfield for Indians
CLEVELAND -- The Indians lost their entire outfield to injuries at various points last season and the team is hoping to avoid a similar calamity this year.
On Tuesday, Cleveland right fielder Shin-Soo Choo and center fielder Michael Brantley were each sidelined by minor ailments. Brantley was held out of the lineup due to soreness in his right wrist and Choo exited Tuesday's 4-3 win over the Royals in the eighth inning with a tight left hamstring.
Indians manager Manny Acta indicated that Brantley is expected to be fine to start Wednesday's game against Kansas City. Choo, on the other hand, is considered day to day and will be re-evaluated when he arrives to the ballpark on Wednesday.
"It's a mild one," Acta said of Choo's injury.
Choo started Tuesday's game for the Indians and went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a walk, watching his season average dip to .237 in the process. The Tribe's right fielder spent time on the disabled list last season due to a broken left thumb and a strained left oblique.
Acta indicated that Brantley, who is hitting .196, tweaked his right wrist while sliding during a recent game in Seattle. As a precaution, Cleveland held the center fielder out of the lineup, but Acta did insert Brantley into the game as a defensive replacement in the eighth inning.
Last season, Brantley had season-ending surgery on Aug. 31 to remove a fractured hamate bone in his right hand.
"We tried to give him 48 hours straight," Acta explained. "He slid head-first a couple of times over in Seattle and jammed his wrist a little bit. We decided that with the day off [on Monday] and a left-handed pitcher [Jonathan Sanchez] pitching today, it was perfect for him to get the day off. He's playing [Wednesday].
"He was fine to play. He could've started the game. We decided to give him the day off so he could have 48 hours and probably get it out of the way and not have it linger."
Damon progressing through workouts
CLEVELAND -- Johnny Damon continues to progress through a workout program at the Indians' training complex in Arizona, but the ballclub has not established when the veteran outfielder will officially begin a Minor League assignment.
Damon played seven innings in left field in an extended spring game on Monday. He served as a designated hitter in a game on Tuesday and went 2-for-4 with a double, stolen base and run scored.
"We haven't picked a date yet," Indians manager Manny Acta said on Tuesday. "He's in a process right now where he's very comfortable down there. We have not only a coaching staff, but a training staff that's working really close with him. There's no date yet."
It is believed that Damon -- who signed a Minor League contract on April 17 -- will suit up for Triple-A Columbus for a period of time prior to officially joining the Indians. When Damon does eventually join the Indians, he will garner the bulk of his at-bats as a left fielder. The Indians have indicated that Damon might be ready to join the team in early May.
Damon played seven innings in left field in an extended spring game on Monday.
Last season, the 38-year-old Damon spent the majority of the season as a designated hitter, batting .261 with 16 home runs, 29 doubles and 73 RBIs in 150 games for the Rays.
As things currently stand, the Indians' outfield consists of Shelley Duncan in left field, Michael Brantley in center field and Shin-Shoo Choo in right. Aaron Cunningham is Cleveland's fourth outfielder off the bench. Veteran Grady Sizemore (back) is on the 60-day disabled list and will be ineligible to be activated until June 3 at the earliest.
On Tuesday, the Indians named Double-A Akron utility man Jared Goedert the organization's Minor League Player of the Week for April 16-22. During that span, Goedert hit .556 (10-for-18) with two doubles and four walks in five games for the Aeros.
Despite having played the fewest games (14) in the Majors, the Indians entered Tuesday leading baseball with 36 RBIs in two-out situations. Cleveland ranked fourth with 50 two-out hits. The Tribe's .286 team average with two outs ranked third overall in the Majors.
Quote to note
"It's about having quality at-bats. You're supposed to have a quality at-bat with no outs or with two outs. Have a quality at-bat. That's what it is. Don't worry about how many outs there are and don't give them away. We've had success so far."
--Indians manager Manny Acta, on his team's early success with two outs