5/7/2013 12:17 A.M. ET
Reynolds striking down the number of strikeouts
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- The Indians knew that first baseman/designated hitter Mark Reynolds had the potential to provide power and run production when they added him to the fold over the winter. They were also accepting of Reynolds' history of striking out at a high rate.
But so far this season, Reynolds has drastically cut down the whiffs.
"Well, he's had a really good first month," manager Terry Francona said. "Now, again, the hope is that the first month turns into a really good year."
Entering Monday's game against the A's, Reynolds was hitting .296 (his career average is .237 over seven seasons) with nine home runs, 26 RBIs and 27 strikeouts over 113 plate appearances in 27 games.
Reynolds' strikeout rate of 23.9 percent (strikeouts compared to total plate appearances) was by far the best of his career, and well below his career rate of 32.3 percent. Assuming he finishes with 662 plate appearances (his career high, set in 2009, when he had a Major League-record 223 strikeouts), he projects to have 158 strikeouts on the season.
"We were pretty excited about what we were getting," Francona said. "And the batting average isn't the most important statistic. We're looking for run production, and that's what he's given us a ton of. The quality of his at-bats has been tremendous from Day 1.
"There's going to be some swings and misses. That comes with it. Now, saying that, with two strikes there's been times when he's shortened up a little bit and hit the ball to right field, fouled off some pitches and then maybe hit a liner into center. I think that's why you see the higher batting average."
Rest does wonders for Swisher's sore shoulder
CLEVELAND -- Nick Swisher believes that a handful of days off did wonders for his sore left shoulder. His state of mind was helped by the fact that the Indians' offense went on a tear when he was forced out of the lineup last week.
"It was nice to be able to get everybody rockin' and rolling through those few days," Swisher said, "so I could afford to take those days off. In situations like that, you can be pressing to get back in the lineup if things aren't going right. But at that time, the guys were doing their thing. It was nice just to be able to fully relax and not even think about pinch-hitting or anything."
Swisher was held out of the lineup with the soreness in the shoulder -- moving back and forth between first base and right field is believed to be partially responsible -- for the first time on Tuesday. He returned on Saturday following a period of four days (three games) off. In those three games, Cleveland outscored its opponents, 27-8.
On Monday, when the Indians began a four-game series with the A's, Swisher's shoulder was feeling greatly improved.
"It's awesome, bro," he said. "It's feeling great."
Through 25 games, Swisher has hit .253 with three home runs and 10 RBIs. The shoulder issue affected his swing, especially during his 1-for-5 showing against the Royals on April 29, one day after he had nine at-bats in a doubleheader in Kansas City.
"That last game in Kansas City," he said, "I [told manager Terry Francona], 'I don't know what to tell you, man. My goal was to play 162 games this year.' But he said, 'We've got some guys that can get in there and get it done.' ... That's a great feeling to have, when a manager says, 'You've got to do what you've got to do to get ready.' I was able to take those couple of days off."
Raburn's efforts rewarded with weekly honors
CLEVELAND -- Ryan Raburn had a simple goal when he joined the Indians this season.
"Forget all the past and just come in and have fun," Raburn said. "That was the main key for me."
It is safe to say that he has been enjoying himself of late.
On Monday the versatile utility man was rewarded for an incredible stretch at the plate, named the American League's Player of the Week for the period of April 29 to May 5. During that span (five games), Raburn hit .591 with four home runs and nine RBIs.
He is the first Indians player to take home such an honor since Asdrubal Cabrera did so in April 2011.
"That's pretty cool," manager Terry Francona said. "He's a guy that's a role player, but he comes in and makes that kind of an impact. I think that just gives me the platform to brag about him, which is good. I think we knew all week what he was doing and how proud of him we were and everything.
"Now, nationally, people read about it. That's a cool thing for him."
Heading into Monday's game, the 32-year-old Raburn was hitting .344 with four home runs and 10 RBIs in 18 games. He has played right field for the most part, holding down the position with right fielder Drew Stubbs in center serving as a replacement for the injured Michael Bourn.
Raburn is not sure if the regular playing time has helped him at the plate. What he is sure of is that he is enjoying himself on the field for the first time in a long while. He opened the 2012 season as a part of the Tigers' starting lineup but hit .171 over 66 games, battled injuries and was released in November following parts of seven seasons with Detroit.
"I think I needed a change of scenery," he said. "I had some expectations over there. I just didn't fulfill them last year. ... I forgot about how fun this game is last year -- it was such a tough year. So even if I don't get a hit this next week, it's just a matter of going out, having fun, enjoying the game and enjoying the opportunities that I've got."
Indians put Pestano on DL, recall Hagadone
CLEVELAND -- The Indians were hopeful that right-handed setup man Vinnie Pestano would be over the soreness in his right elbow and be ready to pitch by the time Monday's game against the A's arrived. Things do not always go as planned.
Less than an hour before the contest, Cleveland placed Pestano on the 15-day disabled list with tendinitis in the throwing elbow and recalled left-hander Nick Hagadone from Triple-A Columbus to shore up the bullpen.
"It's just one of those things where it just kept lingering and lingering and lingering," Pestano said after the Indians' 7-3 win on Monday. "And I can't keep handicapping the bullpen like we have been. So it was a decision that was tough to be made, but it had to be made.
"I pride myself on being available every day and always being able to take the ball. This is definitely not a fun situation to be in."
Pestano said that an MRI showed no structural damage, adding that the injury was unrelated to the joint issue that required Tommy John surgery in 2006.
With Pestano sidelined, sidearmer Joe Smith will likely serve as the primary setup man to All-Star closer Chris Perez.
Pestano (eligible for activation on May 16) has not pitched in a game since April 28, though he threw off a mound on Saturday and played long toss on Sunday. Following that second throwing session, manager Terry Francona indicated that Pestano was available for Monday, but Cleveland has changed course with a more cautious approach.
"Could I have gone out there and thrown?" Pestano said. "Yeah, but I still would have felt it. There still would have been some pain and some discomfort. It being the first week of May and us being capable of filling my role with Joe and Joe's role with a combination of the other guys, it just makes perfect sense just to get the rest and knock it out."
Through eight appearances (eight innings), Pestano has a 2.25 ERA and eight strikeouts. In his most recent outing, he allowed one run on one hit and issued two walks in Game 2 of a doubleheader against the Royals.
The 27-year-old Hagadone has a 2.25 ERA in nine games for Cleveland this season.
Quote to note
"That's probably why you see veterans handling it more than maybe young players sometimes. You have to have the ability to know that there's games you go out and you come up empty, and your batting average isn't going to maybe show what you want it to, and you still have to tell yourself you're a good hitter. It can drive you crazy."
-- manager Terry Francona, on the life of a bench player
• The Indians' offense has hogged the spotlight over the past week, but the rotation has more than done its part as well. Over the past seven games entering Monday, Cleveland's starters were a combined 5-1, with a 2.48 ERA.
"They've given us a chance to win every game," manager Terry Francona said. "There's some nights when you're hitting the ball around the ballpark and you spread it about a little bit. There's other nights when it takes a while for your offense to kick in. But if your pitching is giving you a chance, you're not fighting uphill."
• Starter Brett Myers (on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation in his right elbow) is progressing "very well" in his rehab, according to Francona. Myers is scheduled to return to a mound for bullpen sessions while the Indians are in Detroit (Friday to Sunday). He will then join the Indians in Philadelphia (April 14-15) for a second mound session, after which he will be re-evaluated.
• On Monday, high Class A Advanced Carolina shortstop Francisco Lindor was named the Carolina League's Hitter of the Week for the period of April 29 to May 5. Lindor, Cleveland's top pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, hit .500 with one homer, two doubles, one triple, four RBIs and six runs in seven games in that span. Double-A Akron righty Danny Salazar (12 strikeouts in six shutout innings on Thursday) was named the Eastern League's Pitcher of the Week.