04/17/2013 7:03 PM ET
Despite struggles, Tribe not giving up on Jimenez
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- All of the Indians players were given a clean slate when Terry Francona took the job as manager over the offseason. That includes starter Ubaldo Jimenez, who struggled mightily last season and has gotten off to a rough start this year.
When analyzing Jimenez's outings in the early going this season, Francona said it is important for the team not to put too much emphasis on what took place last summer.
"Last year is over," Francona said on Wednesday. "You can't pitch for last year. It doesn't work. It just makes it harder. So we need to separate that, first of all. We need to figure out, 'What did he do good? What didn't he do good?' Build on what he did well and fix what he didn't do well.
"If you start going back to last August, then he's got no chance. Nobody is good enough to go back and fix last year."
Through three outings this season, Jimenez is 0-2 with an 11.25 ERA. In Tuesday's 7-2 loss to the Red Sox, the right-hander allowed seven runs with five walks (all the runs and walks came in the second inning) in only 1 2/3 innings. It marked only the fourth time in Indians history a starter allowed that many runs and walks in less than two innings of work.
Dating back to July 14 of last season, Jimenez is 1-12 with a 7.27 ERA in 17 appearances. Since the start of the 2011 season, the pitcher has led baseball in starts with at least seven runs allowed (nine) and starts with at least five walks issued (11). Overall last year, Jimenez went 9-17 with a 5.40 ERA in 31 starts.
Francona said it would it would not be advisable to give up on Jimenez only three starts into this season.
"There's a lot of factors," Francona said. "This is in general, because we're three starts in, but if you start getting rid of pitching, you might come up in June, July and August and not have any. There's a lot of things to factor. We have some young guys that are hopefully in Triple-A, and even in Double-A, maturing and developing so when they get here they can win and not get up here and get beat up."
Francona liked Jimenez's plan to resume throwing two bullpen sessions between starts -- an approach he and pitching coach Mickey Callaway used during Spring Training.
"The one really good thing," Francona said, "and I know I've talked about this, but he and Mickey have a really good relationship. I think there's a lot of trust there. You're going to have challenges throughout the season. We knew that coming in. I just think we'd prefer to tackle them as opposed to running away from them.
"I think [throwing two side sessions between starts] is a great thing for him. A lot of guys can't handle that. If he can handle it, that's good."
Finger laceration forces Bourn to disabled list
CLEVELAND -- It was only a matter of time before the Indians placed injured center fielder Michael Bourn on the disabled list, and the Tribe made the move official prior to Wednesday's game against the Red Sox.
The Indians placed Bourn on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Monday, giving him ample time to recover from the laceration of his right index finger suffered in Sunday's 3-1 loss to the White Sox. The Tribe promoted right-hander Corey Kluber from Triple-A Columbus to fill Bourn's spot on the roster.
Manager Terry Francona said the club is optimistic that Bourn will be able to return by April 30, when he is first eligible for activation.
"That would be the hope," Francona said on Wednesday. "I bet you it'll be very close. That sounds about right."
Bourn, who signed a four-year, $48 million contract with the Indians in the offseason, sustained the injury sliding into first base on a grounder to the right side in the eighth inning of Sunday's game. On the play, Chicago pitcher Matt Thornton stepped on Bourn's hand while covering the bag. Bourn was safe, but he exited the game and received five stitches.
"I just tried to be safe, man," Bourn said on Tuesday. "We were down by one and I tried to get on the base. I just tried to get there, but in the process, I got hurt. It's something I have to deal with. That's all I can do."
Francona reiterated on Wednesday that he had no issue with Bourn sliding into first base.
"If every time somebody got hurt, if you told them not to do it, we wouldn't be competing," Francona said. "I told him after he got hurt, I said, 'Bourny, don't change the way you play.' We don't want to lose guys, but that's part of how guys get good. It's not just that. That's just an example of the way he plays. There's other things that you just can't pull back all the time. The guys are competing and they're reacting."
Through 10 games with Cleveland, Bourn was hitting .333 (15-for-45) with two home runs, four doubles, one triple, two RBIs and seven runs scored.
With Bourn sidelined for roughly two weeks, Francona said the Indians will mix and match with the leadoff spot in the batting order. For Wednesday's game against Boston, left fielder Michael Brantley shifted to the top spot in the lineup. Right fielder Drew Stubbs -- the center fielder while Bourn is out -- has also hit leadoff on occasion this season.
Kluber rejoins the Indians as insurance for the club's taxed bullpen. The right-hander will head into the 'pen temporarily after Cleveland's relievers were forced to log 7 1/3 innings in Tuesday's 7-2 loss to Boston. In two starts for Columbus this season, Kluber went 1-1 with a 6.57 ERA. Kluber was called up to Cleveland last week, but he did not pitch in a game due to an April 10 rainout.
Francona said Kluber also offers a contingency plan in the event that lefty Scott Kazmir (right rib cage strain) is unable to come off the 15-day DL as planned for a start on Saturday.
"He's in the bullpen right now," Francona said of Kluber. "Kazmir is going to pitch Saturday, but if for whatever reason something came up, it gives us some protection."
Kipnis likely to return to lineup on Friday
CLEVELAND -- Manager Terry Francona could have written Jason Kipnis' name into the starting lineup on Wednesday, but he is taking a cautious approach with the entire season in mind.
Francona held Kipnis out of the lineup for the fourth straight game to give the second baseman more time to recover from soreness in his left elbow. Cleveland's manager said the current plan is to rest Kipnis through Thursday with the hope that he can return to the lineup on Friday, when the Indians open a 10-game, 11-day road trip through Houston, Chicago and Kansas City.
"Kip wanted to play today," Francona said prior to Wednesday's game against the Red Sox. "I thought if we gave him two more [days off], he has a chance to get back in the lineup and stay in the lineup, rather than come back too early and maybe still feeling it. I don't think that's fair to him, and he didn't put up a huge fuss, so I think it's probably the right thing to do. If I'm going to err, I'd rather it be on the cautious side than the other way."
Francona said part of the decision to keep Kipnis out on Thursday was the fact that the Red Sox are starting left-hander Jon Lester.
Kipnis last played for Cleveland on Friday and was then scratched from Saturday's game against the White Sox with the left elbow discomfort. The second baseman is unsure of what specifically led to the elbow pain, which is unrelated to the elbow issue he dealt with during Spring Training. During the preseason, it was Kipnis' right elbow that kept sidelined temporarily.
With Kipnis still out of the mix, Francona gave the nod to Cord Phelps as Cleveland's starter at second base against Boston. Phelps was called up from Triple-A Columbus on Tuesday to add some insurance for the Tribe's infield.
Quote to note
"If we lost our patience with everybody after a few starts, we wouldn't have a team. I get the mail and everything; 'Send him down, or 'Do this.' Our job is to make guys better, not every time they struggle, get rid of them. We wouldn't have a team. We wouldn't have coaches. We wouldn't have a manager. We need to help him get better."
-- Francona, on Jimenez's struggles
• Cleveland relievers Cody Allen (six strikeouts), Nick Hagadone (three), Rich Hill (two) and Bryan Shaw (four) combined for 15 strikeouts in Tuesday's 7-2 loss to the Red Sox. That marked the most strikeouts by a Cleveland bullpen in a single game (regardless of innings) in team history. The previous record of 13 strikeouts by an Indians bullpen was previously set on June 12, 1943, vs. the St. Louis Browns and matched on May 15, 1957, at Baltimore and May 10, 1964, vs. the Yankees.
"I think what that shows is their pure stuff," Francona said of the strikeout record. "We brought in Cody, Hagadone, Rich and Bryan Shaw, and they were all throwing mid-90s [mph] with a breaking ball. I just think it showed what kind of stuff they have."
• Kazmir, who is on the 15-day disabled list recovering from a right rib cage strain, remains on schedule to be activated in time for a start against the Astros on Saturday. Kazmir made a rehab start with Triple-A Columbus on Monday and threw off a mound in a bullpen session Wednesday.
"He's good," Francona said. "He had normal soreness from not throwing, which was good."
• Indians backup catcher Lou Marson (neck strain) has his scheduled rehab game with Triple-A Columbus rained out on Tuesday. Marson was back with the Tribe on Wednesday and plans on joining Triple-A Columbus on Thursday for a rehab assignment at Toledo.
• According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Red Sox and Indians combined for 40 plate appearances without a ball put in play during Tuesday's 7-2 loss for Cleveland. It marked the first nine-inning game in the modern era (since 1900) in which the teams combined for at least 15 walks and at least 25 strikeouts.