04/04/2013 8:09 PM ET
Sacrifice leads to Kipnis' first hit of season
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
TORONTO -- Jason Kipnis' cell phone buzzed on Thursday afternoon. When the Indians second baseman looked at the screen, he saw a text message from his dad.
The note read: I sacrificed a chicken.
After the first two games of the season, Kipnis was still searching for his first hit of the 2013 campaign. Kipnis' wait came to an end in the first inning on Thursday, when he sent a pitch from lefty Mark Buehrle into left field for a double.
Cleveland's No. 3 hitter is expected to be a key piece to the team's offense and manager Terry Francona isn't worrying much about the second baseman's slow start.
"He'll be fine," Francona said.
Francona pointed to Kipnis' first at-bat in Wednesday's 11-inning, 3-2 victory over the Blue Jays as an example. Kipnis sliced a pitch from hard-throwing righty Brandon Morrow to the warning track in left field, where Toronto outfielder Melky Cabrera made a strong play to catch the ball. Kipnis went 0-for-5 on the night to slip to 0-for-9 on the season.
"That gets lost in the shuffle," Francona said of Kipnis' loud out in the first inning. "I mean, he waffled that ball. Melky makes a great play, so you have to remember that. If that ball lands, I guarantee he feels good about himself. You just have to not lose sight of that."
Kipnis opened the spring slate by going 6-for-42 (.143) at the plate, but showed improvement in the final week of Cactus League play. In his final four games, the second baseman hit .286 (4-for-14) with three extra-base hits and four RBIs. Kipnis, who hit .257 with 14 homers, 31 stolen bases and 76 RBIs for the Tribe last season, also got extra at-bats in Minor League games down the stretch.
Francona was encouraged by what he saw from Kipnis leading up to the regular season.
"Yes, very much so," Francona said. "It's like [on Wednesday], when you see a guy hit a ball to the opposite field like that, you can't hit a ball to the opposite field with authority without doing everything right."
Reynolds gets call at first in series finale
TORONTO -- Indians manager Terry Francona has used the same batting order for his team's first three games, but included a slight defensive adjustment on Thursday.
Mark Reynolds, who served as the team's designated hitter in the first two games of the season, was slotted in as the first baseman in the finale of this three-game set in Toronto. First baseman Nick Swisher was moved into the DH role to accommodate the switch.
"I don't want him to just be a DH," Francona said of Reynolds. "One, I don't think it's fair to him. Two, he's a pretty good first baseman, and I think it helps Swish."
Swisher also has the ability to play right field, and Francona said he might make that position change at some point this weekend against Tampa Bay, in order to get right fielder Drew Stubbs off the artificial turf for a day. That said, Francona has loved what he has seen from Swisher to this point at first base.
"Maybe people don't realize what he's capable of doing," Francona said. "I know he has really good actions. He will get better with reps, but we knew when we signed him [he could handle first base]. I remember seeing him and thinking, 'This guy, he's got first base actions.' He's not like a converted guy. His actions have first base written all over them."
During the upcoming road series against the Rays, Francona also plans on working backup catcher Lou Marson and utility infielders Mike Aviles and Ryan Raburn into at least one game apiece. Francona might slot them in on Friday or Saturday, considering Cleveland will be facing lefties Matt Moore and David Price in those games.
"By the time we leave Tampa, everybody will play," Francona said. "I'll spend a lot of time [planning the lineups] on the flight tonight."
• Indians setup man Joe Smith entered Wednesday's game with the most career big league relief appearances (370) without recording at least one save. Smith earned his first career save after holding the Blue Jays off the board in the 11th inning of Cleveland's 3-2 win.
• With his 11th-inning blast on Wednesday night, Reynolds now has three home runs in the 10th inning or later in his career. All three have come on the road and two of the three stood up as game-winning blasts.
• This is the first time since 2008 that the Indians have opened a season with a 2-0 record. Cleveland has not started a campaign with a 3-0 ledger since 1998, when the team went 6-0 out of the gates in series against the Mariners and Angels.
• The Indians' contest against the Yankees at 7:05 p.m. ET on Wednesday at Progressive Field will be televised on ESPN2. SportsTime Ohio will also air the game in the Ohio market.
Quote to note
"I think if our effort level and our intensity stays where it's at, we're going to be just fine."
-- Indians manager Terry Francona