5/28/2013 8:09 P.M. ET
Pestano, Aviles share memories of Dr. Yocum
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- There are many players throughout baseball who have a scar on the inner side of their elbow. It is a daily reminder of a career nearly derailed, and a considerable amount of those players have Dr. Lewis Yocum to thank for staying on the field.
In Cleveland's clubhouse, setup man Vinnie Pestano and infielder Mike Aviles -- both grateful for Yocum's part in saving their careers -- were saddened to learn of the renowned doctor's passing on Tuesday. Yocum died Saturday at his home following a battle with liver cancer. He was 66.
"I was very upset to hear that," Pestano said. "For all the encounters, all the meetings I had, he was great to sit there and bounce stuff off him and asking questions. He handled everything great, with professionalism, and he did a great job of settling my nerves and he'd always shoot you straight."
Pestano underwent Tommy John surgery in May 2006 and was selected by the Indians in the 20th round of the First-Year Player Draft that June. After his surgery and recovery, Pestano rose swiftly through Cleveland's farm system and is now one of the top setup men in the American League.
"I actually owe a great deal to him," Pestano said. "I had two MRIs before that review -- not by him. They said there was no structural damage with the ligament. But then he ordered that I get the exam with the dye. That's when they found the tear. He's the one who actually confirmed my suspicions.
"To have him find it, it was a relief, because I knew I wasn't crazy, and then I decided to have the surgery. It was definitely the most important part of my career at that point. ... I always trusted him. He knew my elbow better than anybody else."
It is less common for a position player to undergo Tommy John surgery, but Aviles is one of the exceptions. In his second big league season in 2009, Aviles was named the Royals' Opening Day shortstop, but was shelved with the arm injury by May and under the knife by July.
"When I had the opportunity to meet Yocum, it wasn't the greatest of situations," Aviles said. "But, I'm also meeting with arguably one of the best doctors in that profession. So that gave me a little sense of calm. After talking to him, and him diagnosing my elbow with needing Tommy John, it was definitely an interesting thing. But I talked to him a lot.
"Halfway through the rehab, he was calling me to get updates and asking me how I was feeling. To me, most doctors will give you a surgery and then go through the team for updates. It meant a lot to me that he would actually call me on my cell phone, and text me and ask how things were going. It showed me how much he cared."
Giambi hopes big homer puts an end to slump
CINCINNATI -- As veteran Jason Giambi jogged back to the visitors' dugout at Great American Ball Park, following his mammoth pinch-hit home run in the eighth inning on Monday, Indians manager Terry Francona extended his hand to greet the slugger with a fist bump.
"He almost broke my wrist and my watch," Francona said with a laugh. "Seriously. I was bent over."
Francona called it a great moment for Giambi and for the team.
Giambi, who has been bothered by a pinched nerve in his neck for the past two weeks, was mired in an 0-for-24 slump prior to his 467-foot blast. That represented the third-longest hitless streak of his 19-year career. The shot off Reds right-hander Mike Leake caromed off the black technology pavilion building beyond the center-field wall and pulled the game into a 2-2 tie.
Cleveland went on to lose, 4-2, but Giambi was still happy to have broken free from his drought.
"I told them, 'God, I'm back,'" Giambi said. "Hopefully I can help the ballclub. That's the most important thing. Tito [Francona] really helped out. I was kind of going through that pinched nerve in my neck and he was like, 'Hey, just keep going up there and battling.' I don't care how old you are. It's nice for your manager to come up there and tell you you're OK.
"I've been frustrated and kind of been upset at myself because I wasn't helping the ballclub as much as I wanted to. He made me feel good, and the guys have given unbelievable support during that stretch."
Francona said his words of encouragement with Giambi were aimed at reminding the 42-year-old that -- slump or no slump -- the veteran is important to the team.
"I have so much, not just affection, but so much admiration for him," Francona said. "It's a blessing to have him. He does so many things to help everybody out. I just wanted to make sure he knew that we were there for him, too. And not to forget who he is and how good he is and how much we appreciate him. That's all it really was."
• Over his past seven outings, Indians right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez has gone 3-1 with a 3.86 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings, lowering his season ERA to 5.57 from 11.25. On Monday, he took a no-decision after limiting the Reds to two runs over seven innings. It was a solid bounce-back start after giving up six runs in four innings against Detroit on Wednesday.
"I was thrilled," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He's been good. You know what? I think it's to the point where when he doesn't have a good outing, it's not like last year. Pitchers have bad outings. His stuff is good and he's backing it up. When he takes the mound, we're confident in him. That's really good. I'm proud of him."
• Prior to Tuesday night's game against the Reds, the Indians had played 10 day games (start time of 3 p.m. or earlier) in their past 16 contests. Cleveland has posted a 6-4 record in those games
"It feels like we're the Chicago Cubs," Indians first baseman Nick Swisher quipped.
• Francona noted that right-hander Brett Myers, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since April 20, had his right elbow re-examined on Monday in Cleveland. Myers will be shut down from throwing for another five to seven days before being re-evaluated again prior to resuming a throwing program.
• Cleveland's bullpen was charged with a loss in three straight games heading into Tuesday's contest in Cincinnati. The three-game losing streak comes after the group opened the year with an 8-0 ledger. During the Indians' four-game losing streak, the relief corps had a 16.88 ERA.
Quote to note
"He's pretty hard on himself as a hitter. He expects great things and he's so busy worrying about everybody else, and taking care of everybody else. I just wanted to make sure he knows we believe in him and we appreciate what he does."
--Francona, on Giambi