6/4/2013 11:55 P.M. ET
Tribe sees arm slot as key to Hill's turnaround
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Indians manager Terry Francona sat down with left-handed reliever Rich Hill on Monday to reassure the pitcher that the team is confident in his ability to rebound from his recent rough patch.
Francona felt the meeting was important and went well.
"He looked like he was starting to get frustrated," Francona said of Hill on Tuesday. "You could tell by his body language on the mound and on the field. We want to help him be consistent in his release point, which I think will help."
Hill has been using a lower arm slot in recent outings in an effort to gain a better feel for his pitches and the strike zone. In terms of throwing strikes, the left-hander's performance has improved, but the downside has been less deception and more hits allowed.
Over his last six games entering Tuesday, Hill had surrendered 11 runs on 12 hits in just 4 1/3 innings, allowing a .500 opponents' batting average while throwing strikes at a 69-percent rate. In his previous 16 games, Hill threw 59 percent of his pitches for strikes but posted a 3.09 ERA and held hitters to a .195 average.
Cleveland is working with Hill on raising his arm slot closer to where it was during Spring Training.
"We've kind of tinkered with some different arm angles," Indians bullpen coach Kevin Cash said. "I think Rich probably had a couple of outings where he wasn't commanding the ball as much as he'd like, and then his last few outings, he actually threw strikes, but he got hit more than we're used to seeing.
"We're trying to get him back to that Spring Training position, where he was pretty dang good with that fastball-breaking ball combination. With bullpen pitchers, they have their ruts. He's in one now. Now it's, 'How quickly can we get him out of it?'"
On the season, Hill has posted an 8.44 ERA across 16 innings, but Francona said the team is focused on getting the lefty back on track rather than searching for an alternative.
"He'll get just as hot as he got cold," Francona said. "Rather than run away from him, we want to help him, because he will help us. His arm is good. He's healthy and the ball is live and he's got action. We've just got to get him back into a consistent release point and get him feeling confident."
Quad strain sends Asdrubal to disabled list
NEW YORK -- The Indians could be without their All-Star shortstop for at least the next month.
Prior to Tuesday's game against the Yankees, Cleveland placed Asdrubal Cabrera on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right quadriceps. The Indians promoted shortstop Juan Diaz from Triple-A Columbus to fill a spot on their bench.
Cabrera underwent an MRI exam on Tuesday in Cleveland, and the results confirmed the initial diagnosis.
"He got scanned and, as expected, he did some damage in there," Indians manager Terry Francona said.
Francona would not speculate about how much time Cabrera might miss, but the manager did note that Cleveland's medical team indicated that similar quad injuries have required three to four weeks of recovery time. The manager emphasized that there is currently no timetable for Cabrera's return.
"It's just going to be on how quickly he heals," Francona said. "Nobody knows that, so that's just kind of where it is. ... It could be three to four weeks, but again, that's a guess on their part, and in all fairness to Cabby, it heals when it heals. We'll hope for the best."
In the fifth inning of Monday's 7-4 loss in New York, Cabrera's quad injury flared while he was sprinting to first base on a groundout. The shortstop pulled up before reaching the bag and nearly tripped as pain shot through his leg. Cabrera needed to be helped off the field, and he indicated after the game that his leg was still very sore.
Cabrera has been dealing with the quad injury off and on since late April.
Francona indicated that infielder Mike Aviles will assume the regular role at shortstop while Cabrera is out. Aviles, who served as the everyday shortstop for the Red Sox last season, entered Tuesday's action hitting .283 with three home runs, six doubles, 16 runs and 18 RBIs in 39 games this season for the Tribe.
"That's the good side of this," Francona said. "Not only is [Aviles] talented enough to do it, but he has worked hard enough so you put him in the lineup and his body won't [break down]. Some guys can do it, but they're not ready to play every day. He works so hard that he won't miss a beat."
With Cabrera out, Francona put left fielder Michael Brantley in the third spot of the lineup for Tuesday's game.
Through 53 games with the Tribe this season, the switch-hitting Cabrera was batting .254 with five home runs, 18 doubles, 25 RBIs and 28 runs scored. He leads the Indians in doubles and extra-base hits (25) and boasts a 33-game errorless streak at short. Dating to May 9, Cabrera has hit .295 (28-for-95) with 13 extra-base hits in 24 games.
Cabrera was named to the American League All-Star team in each of the past two seasons.
Diaz, who was called up in May last season while Cabrera battled through a hamstring issue, was hitting .211 (40-for-190) with four homers, eight doubles and 18 RBIs in 52 games for Columbus this season before being recalled. In five games with the Tribe last year, he posted a .267 (4-for-15) average. Diaz will serve as the primary backup shortstop for the time being.
"He wasn't swinging it terribly well in Triple-A; that happens," Francona said. "Mike Aviles is going to get the majority of the playing time, but that depends on things happening, too. The nice thing is that this is where the versatility of our club should help us a lot."
Disputed foul call leads to Aviles' ejection
NEW YORK -- Indians shortstop Mike Aviles took exception to a ruling during his final plate appearance on Tuesday night and was ejected from a game that had already ended.
Shortly after sending a pitch from closer Mariano Rivera to right field for a flyout to seal Cleveland's 4-3 loss to the Yankees, Aviles continued an argument with home-plate umpire Tony Randazzo. With Indians manager Terry Francona and third-base coach Brad Mills standing in the middle, Randazzo ejected Aviles.
"Mike, you get emotional sometimes," Francona said. "I just thought that, at that point, Tony should've kept walking or apologized to Mike. Everybody makes mistakes. That's a tough call. That's a tough position to be put in when you're facing Rivera."
The mistake, in the opinion of Francona and Aviles, came on Rivera's first pitch to Aviles.
Aviles checked his swing and believed he had drawn a first-pitch ball. That is when Randazzo ruled that the Indians shortstop had fouled the pitch off for strike one. Aviles -- undoubtedly still heated over the called third strike he disputed with Randazzo in the fifth inning -- argued to no avail before continuing his plate appearance.
Francona came out at one point during the at-bat to try to keep things in order.
"Aviles and Tony were going back and forth," Francona said. "I just didn't want anything to [happen]. Millsy was out there, but I can't stand there and let them yell at each other."
Tribe hopes McAllister's finger improves with rest
NEW YORK -- The Indians have an unfortunate history when it comes to pitchers and finger injuries. Former prospect Adam Miller had his career derailed by right middle finger complications, and Alex White dealt with a similar problem in his days as a highly touted arm in Cleveland's system.
The Indians are confident Zach McAllister is not heading down a similar path.
"It's nothing like that," Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway said. "We looked into it."
McAllister is currently dealing with irritation in his right middle finger and will have his next start pushed back as a result. With an off-day coming on Thursday, Cleveland plans on delaying McAllister's next outing until next Tuesday, when it will play the second of three games at Texas. McAllister had been slated to pitch next on Friday in Detroit.
Callaway reiterated that McAllister's injury is not considered severe.
"It's just a little irritation, soreness," Callaway said. "It's nothing serious."
The injury flared between McAllister's past two starts and hindered the right-hander's ability to use his curveball in his outing on Sunday against the Rays. McAllister lasted just 4 1/3 innings, striking out none, walking four and allowing five runs on seven hits.
McAllister has gone 1-2 with a 6.14 ERA in his last three turns after opening the season 3-3 with a 2.65 ERA in his first eight starts.
The pitcher said the finger injury became an issue in his start against Tampa Bay.
"It was difficult," said McAllister, who is 4-5 with a 3.43 ERA this season. "I had times where it felt really good, but there were other times where I might've let it get in my head a little bit, and I was babying pitches instead of letting it go. It definitely made it more difficult than I would've liked.
"I just don't want it to get any worse than it was, so we're taking advantage of the off-day and trying to get it better."
Quote to note
"You've heard me say this a lot of times, but I think [general manager Chris Antonetti] aced the winter in so many aspects. From where we were to where we are; from not only who we acquired, but the guys that he got are all baseball players. I can't tell you how much more fun that makes my job."
• Left-hander J.C. Romero, who opted out of his contract with the Nationals, will report to Triple-A for the Indians on Thursday. If Romero, 37, passes a physical, he will sign a Minor League contract with Cleveland. The lefty posted a 2.84 ERA in 13 games with Triple-A Syracuse before being shelved with tendinitis in his throwing shoulder. He has a 4.16 ERA in 680 career big league games between stints with the Twins, Phillies, Rockies, Cardinals, Red Sox, Angels and Orioles.
• Columbus right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, who has been dealing with a left oblique injury, completed his third bullpen session (50 pitches) on Tuesday. Barring any setbacks, Matsuzaka will throw a simulated game on Friday with the goal of returning to game activity in seven to 10 days.
• The Indians' pitching staff established a single-month franchise record with 280 strikeouts in May. The previous mark of 264 strikeouts was first set in July 1964 and equaled in August '67. Last month, Cleveland and Detroit tied for most strikeouts in the Majors.
• On Tuesday, the Indians named Class A infielder Joseph Sever the organization's Minor League Player of the Week for the period from last Wednesday until Tuesday. In that span, Sever hit .438 (7-for-16) with one double, two RBIs and three runs scored in five games between Class A Advanced Carolina and Class A Lake County.
• According to Ben Badler of Baseball America, the Indians have signed 18-year-old Taiwanese shortstop prospect Yu-Cheng Chang, who is 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds. Cleveland would not confirm the signing, indicating that the move is not yet official.