6/2/2013 7:20 P.M. ET
Francona ejected in fifth after arguing strike zone
By Mark Emery / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona was ejected from Sunday's 11-3 loss to Tampa Bay after coming out to argue a pitch during Nick Swisher's fifth-inning at-bat.
Francona exited the dugout after home-plate umpire Bill Welke called a strike on a pitch from Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson that appeared outside. The manager argued for several minutes -- tossing his gum aside and pointing in the direction of third base at different moments -- before Welke tossed him.
"I just thought his strike zone was -- I thought he was inconsistent," said Francona, whose issues with the zone began before Swisher's at-bat. "I went back and looked at the pitches and I said [to Welke], 'I feel stronger now than I did when I was yelling at you from the dugout.'"
The Indians had not been happy with the umpiring crew for most of Sunday's game. Tribe starter Zach McAllister, who issued four walks in 4 1/3 inning of work, took time to discuss the strike zone with Welke following the top half of the third, which might have ended with a strikeout of Evan Longoria. Instead, the Rays slugger got to continue his at-bat and singled in Matt Joyce to put Tampa Bay up, 3-0.
"I mean, I thought it was a good pitch, but obviously it wasn't," said McAllister, who went without a strikeout for the first time in his career. "I was just asking where a couple pitches were, and that was it."
Catcher Yan Gomes shared McAllister's feeling in the moment. After the pitch to Longoria that was called a ball, he got up from his crouch and headed back to the dugout, only to realize the actual call. He said he apologized to Welke.
"I should have stayed down and let him make a call instead of pulling up like that," Gomes said. "I didn't mean to show him up."
The visiting Rays added to their lead in the fourth inning, which Sam Fuld led off with a triple. He reached third on a ball to right field that was interrupted by contact with a ball boy, but the umpires let it stand. The crew heeded the rulebook and decided against putting Fuld on second base, as the ball boy was in the field of play and made contact with the ball unintentionally.
The combination of factors was too much for Francona, who earned a rousing ovation from the Progressive Field faithful after sticking up for his players.
"We know he has our back," Michael Brantley said. "There's no question about that. Every player in this locker room has the utmost respect for him."
Francona commends callup Langwell's versatility
CLEVELAND -- Terry Francona entered Spring Training thinking that Matt Langwell wouldn't stick around for too long. But with the way the right-hander pitched, the manager eventually realized that a change of plans was in order.
One of the days that the Indians trimmed their roster, Francona brought Langwell in and told him, "Today is the day we're making cuts, and you're not one of them," although the pitcher would eventually be sent to Triple-A Columbus.
The Indians called up Langwell, 27, on Saturday, a few months after the reliever posted a 1.86 ERA with eight strikeouts and two walks in 9 2/3 innings of Spring Training work.
The skipper once again has Langwell at his service. In 20 games (including one start) for the Clippers, the righty went 2-1 with a 2.30 ERA across 27 1/3 innings. He grabbed a save and racked up 23 strikeouts against 12 walks.
Though Langwell's debut didn't come Saturday, he should probably expect it soon. Francona described him as a versatile pitcher who can handle an extended outing if circumstances call for it.
"Sometimes, a guy like Langwell, even when he doesn't pitch, allows you to use other guys, knowing that, OK, if we match up on a certain night, and we get to the ninth and something happens and we have a tie game, you got him behind," Francona said. "So, there's a lot of ways an arm like that can be valuable. You know he'll throw strikes."
Langwell attended Rice University and was picked by the Indians in the 11th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. He laid the groundwork for his current stay in Cleveland with the job he did out in Arizona.
"We kept keeping him around just because of the way he was pitching," Francona said. "And now he finds himself in the big leagues."
Recent adjustments helping Hagadone with command
CLEVELAND -- Nick Hagadone tossed a scoreless eighth inning in Philadelphia on May 15, a day before he was most recently optioned to Triple-A Columbus.
The outing came on the heels of two brutal appearances for the southpaw. He faced a combined eight hitters and gave up six runs while recording just one out. Against the Phillies, though, Hagadone liked the way he threw the ball.
"I had worked on some mechanical adjustments, and I felt really good about them in that outing and how everything was kind of coming together," he said. "I just continued to work on that when I was in Columbus, and I think it's really helped."
Hagadone made three Minors appearances before being called up again Thursday. He gave up two runs in five innings, while posting 10 strikeouts and four walks. He said he's performing towel drills every few days to keep his motion in sync.
"It's more [about] staying on in the inside of my push-off leg and not letting the weight go backwards, so I can stay on balanced through my delivery," he said. "That just helps me to repeat my delivery every pitch or most pitches, which affects command."
Since his most recent callup, Hagadone has made three appearances, throwing 3 1/3 innings and giving up three hits and two runs with a pair of strikeouts. He has a 6.75 ERA in 16 outings this season.
Francona praises Aviles' energy, attitude
CLEVELAND -- Terry Francona doesn't start Mike Aviles every day, but he looks for reasons to insert him into the lineup and cherishes having him on the bench.
In Sunday's 11-3 loss to Tampa Bay, Aviles played shortstop and batted eighth against Rays left-hander Jeremy Hellickson, and he went 1-for-4 with two RBIs.
"What we've tried to do is get him in there against all the lefties and then take advantage of resting guys against certain righties," Francona said before the game. "It's an easy guy to want to play, because he always plays with so much energy. But again, some of his at-bats will come through how other guys are physically."
Aviles has bounced around the diamond, making appearances at second base, third base, shortstop, left field and right field. Entering Sunday's game, he was batting .276 (27-for-98) with three homers and 15 RBIs. The 32-year-old had also stolen four bases in five tries, all while maintaining an upbeat mentality that puts guys at ease.
"Having guys like him are a blessing for a manager," Francona said. "When you have a guy on the bench that, when you look down there to get him ready and he's already a step ahead of you and he's doing it willingly, that's a good guy to have on your team."
Quote to note
"Ubaldo should be proud of himself. This guy's a good pitcher. Like I said, I think he should be proud of himself, because that's not the easiest thing to do. He had to rebound from having a pretty tough year, and things had gone wrong in a lot of ways, and he fixed it. Good for him."
-- Francona on starter Ubaldo Jimenez, who's 4-1 with a 2.74 ERA in his last seven outings
• Injured pitchers Chris Perez and Brett Myers were evaluated by doctors on Sunday. Francona said both hurlers received positive feedback, though he seemed more encouraged about Perez.
"He will begin throwing in about three days," Francona said about his closer. "[We're] going to give him a few more days down, but he got a real good examination."
As for Myers, "he's still not ready to throw," the manager said. "[It will be] probably more four to five days."
Perez has been sidelined since May 27 with mild tendinitis in the rotator cuff of his right shoulder. Myers, who's been on the 15-day disabled list since April 20, has right elbow tendinitis and a mild ulnar collateral ligament sprain.
• During the current homestand, Tribe starters Justin Masterson, Scott Kazmir, Corey Kluber and Jimenez have limited opponents to just two earned runs over 23 innings.
• The Indians entered Sunday with 69 home runs, the most they've had in the first 55 games of a season since going deep 70 times to begin 2007.
Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.