05/20/12 7:54 PM ET
Indians stick by Damon amid struggles
By Justin Albers / MLB.com
Thus far, though, the veteran Damon hasn't really resembled his normal self at the plate.
Through 15 games entering Sunday, Damon was hitting only .167 with no home runs and two RBIs for the Indians. His .254 on-base percentage was lower than his batting average in any of his 17 career seasons with the Royals, Red Sox, Yankees, Tigers and Rays. Damon was removed from the leadoff spot in favor in Shin-Soo Choo last Monday.
In Sunday's 5-3 loss to the Marlins, Damon managed a hit in his four at-bats with a run scored. The 1-for-4 day improved his batting average to .172. He narrowly missed a home run when he hit a long fly ball to right field that was caught at the warning track in the seventh inning. He is still looking for his first home run of the season.
Because of Damon's struggles at the plate, Indians manager Manny Acta was asked Saturday how much rope Damon has going forward.
"We don't have a timetable or anything," Acta said. "Damon is here to play for us up until he doesn't want to be here. We signed Damon to be part of the Cleveland Indians. Johnny was signed to be part of this ballclub until the end."
Damon does have a clause in his contract which would allow him to be released if he isn't getting enough playing time or isn't a good fit for the team. He was back in the lineup Sunday after getting Saturday off.
Perez wants to keep focus on Indians' success
CLEVELAND -- Indians closer Chris Perez didn't back away from controversial comments he made about the fans after Saturday's game. Perez addressed the media Sunday morning, saying his feelings had been building for a while.
The final straw, he said, was being booed in a game Thursday against the Mariners when two runners got on base against him. Perez did not allow a run to score, and the Indians won the game in extra innings.
"I don't understand the negativity," Perez said. "Enjoy what we have. We have a first-place team. How many teams in the country would want that right now? We're in first place. Enjoy it. We could be in last place. We could be the Royals or the Pirates and haven't won anything in 20 years. We're not. Enjoy it."
Indians president Mark Shapiro and general manager Chris Antonetti met with Perez on Sunday morning to discuss his comments. Shapiro described it as "a good conversation."
Shapiro said that the organization disagrees with some of the sentiments Perez expressed.
"We certainly want more fans to come," Shapiro said. "And we're working extremely hard to make that happen."
Ubaldo focused on improving mechanics
CLEVELAND -- Ubaldo Jimenez needed to start from the beginning.
For whatever reason, the Indians pitcher said he started to be all over the place with his mechanics, and had to start from scratch.
"It's been taking time because my mechanics got so bad," Jimenez said.
Three starts ago against the Rangers, Jimenez pitched a gem. He held Texas to two hits over seven innings, and he had six strikeouts. In his next start against Boston, though, he got hit for seven runs in only 4 1/3 innings.
"Ubaldo continues to be inconsistent," said Indians general manager Chris Antonetti. "His commitment hasn't wavered. He's worked tirelessly to solidify his delivery mechanics. It just hasn't clicked consistently every five days."
Jimenez, who is 5-4 with a 5.09 ERA, said he's improving every day. He's been working with pitching coach Scott Radinsky on a regular basis, and he said he's starting to feel comfortable with his new mechanics.
"I'm pretty close," Jimenez said. "I'm not going to say that I'm one pitch away or one game away from putting everything together, but I'm getting better and better."
On Saturday, Jeanmar Gomez became the first Indians pitcher since August 1973 to have consecutive starts with a 0.00 ERA following a start with an ERA of at least 8.00 (Gaylord Perry), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Indians third baseman Jack Hannahan, who was out of the lineup for the seventh consecutive day Sunday (back tightness), said he "continues to feel better every day."
Justin Albers is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.