04/27/2013 8:20 PM ET
Stubbs starting to settle into new swing
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
KANSAS CITY -- When a player makes changes to his swing, a strong start in the batter's box can go a long way in convincing him that he made the right decision. That is how outfielder Drew Stubbs is feeling roughly a month into his first season with the Indians.
"I actually feel pretty good," Stubbs said on Saturday. "I feel like I'm really settling into the direction I wanted to head and taking the right steps forward."
Over the offseason, Stubbs worked to eliminate the leg kick he used during his time with the Reds in hopes of becoming more consistent with his timing. He continued to concentrate on the changes in Spring Training and believes he has finally reached the point where the new simplified approach feels natural.
Through his first 18 games with the Indians, Stubbs hit .250 with one home run, five RBIs and a .338 on-base percentage. Entering Saturday's game with the Royals, Stubbs was hitting .302 with a .412 on-base percentage in his past 14 games.
Last year, Stubbs hit .213 with 14 homers, 40 RBIs and a .277 OBP in 136 games for the Reds.
"It feels natural now," Stubbs said. "I think I've had enough at-bats between spring and now. When you're trying to force the issue and implement new changes, you're thinking about it every at-bat because it's foreign to you. Now, it's kind of second nature.
"I feel like I've been on time more often. Before, with the leg kick, when things were going good, it was great. But a lot of times I would get started a little late with that and have to rush. Obviously, we've got a lot of games to play, but hopefully this has allowed me to be more consistent throughout the year."
Helping Stubbs early on this season has been the fact that he has faced left-handers (29 at-bats) nearly as much as right-handers (31 at-bats). His .310 average against lefties has helped overcome his .194 showing off righties. That said, manager Terry Francona has liked what he has seen so far from the speedy outfielder.
"When he squares up balls, that's when he's got a chance to be really hot," Francona said. "We've all seen what he can do when he's on the bases. He can change the game. ... I think he's been very consistent [with his swing]. He's trying to just get himself in a position where he's ready to hit and I think he's done a good job of that."
Kluber to get the call in second game of doubleheader
KANSAS CITY -- The Indians moved Corey Kluber into the starting rotation last week, but a pair of rainouts have robbed the right-hander of a turn on the mound. That will change on Sunday.
Prior to Saturday's game against the Royals, Indians manager Terry Francona announced that Kluber would start for the Tribe in the second game of Sunday's doubleheader at Kauffman Stadium. The game is a makeup of Friday night's postponement in Kansas City.
Cleveland will also promote a player from the Minor Leagues to serve as the team's 26th man for the double dip on Sunday, but Francona was not ready to say who would be joining the Indians.
"We have some things to work through," Francona said on Saturday. "Obviously, I've talked to [general manager Chris Antonetti] numerous times. We'll wait until we get through tonight to see what we think helps us the most. We walked through all kinds of scenarios."
As a result of Friday's rainout, Cleveland shuffled its rotation slightly, having left-hander Scott Kazmir start on Saturday and pushing Ubaldo Jimenez, who was originally slated to start Saturday, back to Monday's game against the Royals. The Indians will also need to name a starter for Wednesday's home game against the Phillies. One possibility is Triple-A Columbus right-hander Trevor Bauer.
"There's a lot of things to sift through," Francona said. "We're trying to figure out how best to do it. This works out. Putting Corey in that second game, it'll help free up some things. It gives us some options down the road if we need them."
Francona said Jimenez (0-2 with a 10.06 ERA through four starts) threw a bullpen session on Saturday, giving the righty another day to try to keep his mechanics in order. Jimenez has been throwing two side sessions between starts under normal circumstances.
"It's been really good," Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway said of Jimenez's side work. "I thought he was really good his last time out. His stride direction was really good and he took it right into his 'pen. We worked a little more in-between the last couple starts on being out of the stretch and things like that. He's done a really good job."
Francona comfortable with current batting order
KANSAS CITY -- Indians manager Terry Francona knows the numbers inside and out, but he is not about to juggle the lineup this early into a season.
Cleveland's middle-infield duo of shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and second baseman Jason Kipnis have struggled offensively out of the gate, but Francona has consistently kept them in either the second or third spot in the batting order. The Tribe's best hitters this month, catcher Carlos Santana and designated hitter Mark Reynolds, were hitting sixth and seventh, respectively, for Saturday's game in Kansas City.
Francona said he has not felt tempted to drastically alter the lineup due to hot or cold spells.
"It's not that I don't think about it," Francona said. "I just think that you see that happen a lot and I think it goes against [what I believe in]. Everybody gets to their level [by the end of the season]. So if you take a guy like Cabrera, who we know is going to get hot, and you move him down and then he gets hot, you maybe missed out on an opportunity.
"It's the same with the guys that are hot. Sometimes they come back and then you've changed them. So I think what you do is you put the batting order you think is right and stay with it as much as you can."
Heading into Saturday's game against the Royals, Cabrera was hitting .156 in 17 games and Kipnis was batting .170 in 13 games. Santana was hitting at a .352 clip with 11 extra-base hits and Reynolds was batting .286 with a team-high seven home runs and 19 RBIs.
Francona added that he was not sure if there is a certain point in the season when lineup changes become necessary.
"I don't know," Francona said. "Some of that is not just a breaking point. Some of it depends on what you have and what your alternatives are, because one move leads to another one somewhere else. ... You let them play. The reason we have them lined up is because that's how we think it best suits us."
Quote to note
"This game, I've seen how it can beat you up mentally. And then you start reeling and pressing a little bit. It definitely helps to get off on the right foot."
--Indians outfielder Drew Stubbs
• Indians center fielder Michael Bourn (on the 15-day disabled list with a right index finger injury) took dry swings and played catch up to a distance of 90 feet on Saturday, according to head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff. Bourn is working through a gradual progression of baseball activities given the sensitive location of the injury on his hand.
• Philadelphia left-hander Cliff Lee, who won the American League Cy Young Award with the Indians in 2008, is scheduled to face the Tribe in an Interleague tilt on Wednesday at Progressive Field in Cleveland. It will mark Lee's first time facing the Indians in his career.
• Entering Saturday, Indians right-hander Zach McAllister was tied with Tigers ace Justin Verlander for the highest percentage (37 percent) of 0-2 counts among qualifying pitchers in the American League. The league average for that category heading into Saturday's action was 25 percent.
• The second game of Sunday's Indians-Royals doubleheader, which is scheduled to begin at 8:10 p.m. ET, will not be televised due to ESPN's exclusive Sunday night broadcast window. Game 2 in Kansas City will be aired on MLB.com's Gameday Audio, Indians Radio Network, WTAM 1100-AM and 100.7-FM.