6/9/2013 1:58 P.M. ET
Francona happy with production from Gomes
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
DETROIT -- The Indians' roster is currently constructed in such a way that the team's secondary catcher can receive more playing time than a typical backup. That has led to more at-bats of late for Yan Gomes, and that has been just fine with manager Terry Francona.
Gomes has more than done his part for the Tribe.
"He's been kind of a force," Francona said. "I'm trying to take advantage of it."
For Sunday's game against the Tigers, Gomes was in the lineup as the designated hitter for the first time this season. With left-hander Jose Alvarez making his big league debut for Detroit, Francona saw it as an opportune time to keep Gomes' bat in the order, but to also make sure starting catcher Carlos Santana is still getting his time behind the plate.
Entering Sunday, the 25-year-old Gomes had six home runs, 12 extra-base hits, 16 runs scored and 17 RBIs in 26 games for the Indians. Over his past 14 games, the catcher had hit at a .346 clip (18-for-52) with a 1.017 OPS, raising his average from .212 to .294 in the process.
"Guys earn their playing time, for sure," Francona said. "We have the ability, because we have some flexibility -- Carlos' flexibility [to play first base and catch] -- that we can play Gomes enough to where he's not losing development. And he's actually helped us win games. The way the setup is right now, it's worked for us.
"The main reason is because [Gomes] is playing so well."
Indians not concerned with Swisher's slump
DETROIT -- There is no denying that Nick Swisher headed into Sunday's game mired in a brutal slump. When watching Swisher's at-bats, Indians hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo does not see a hitter who has suddenly become a mechanical mess at the plate.
That is why Van Burkleo is confident Swisher will break free from his woes soon enough.
"He'll get out of it. That'll change," Van Burkleo said on Sunday morning. "He's stayed positive. He's been through slumps before. There's no panic in there. It just gets frustrating when you're not getting hits and you want to contribute, and it's not working out for you. But the swing is fine. He's looked good.
"You just grind it out and weather the storm. It's like a circle. It'll come all the way back."
Swisher entered Sunday's contest with the Tigers stuck in an 0-for-24 spell in the batter's box, marking the second-longest hitless drought of his career. He went 28 at-bats without a hit from Sept. 2-9 last season with the Yankees. Over his past dozen games, Swisher had posted just a .091 (4-for-44) average, dropping his season average to .239 from .280 over that span.
After two more hitless at-bats in Sunday's finale, Swisher snapped out of his skid with a sixth-inning single to left field off lefty Jose Alvarez.
Indians manager Terry Francona agreed with Van Burkleo's assessment of Swisher's swing, adding that the first baseman has offered at pitches he does not typically chase when he is going well. There is also the element of luck, which simply has not gone Swisher's way of late. There have been a handful of times in the past few games when Swisher has made hard contact with nothing to show for it.
"I think it's human nature, sometimes, for guys to try to do too much," Francona said. "Maybe it's pitch selection. Maybe you're overdoing it a little bit. I think mechanically he's in pretty good shape. He's pretty solid mechanically always. He may say he feels a little off with his hands or something, but he's got pretty sound mechanics from both sides of the plate.
"And guys that grind out at-bats like he does, they have a way of, when you see enough pitches, kind of getting yourself comfortable, even when you're not."
Appeal dropped, Carrasco serving suspension
DETROIT -- Indians manager Terry Francona often jokes that he is happy to have people smarter than him running things in the front office. One instance has been the recent handling of the suspension starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco received in April from Major League Baseball.
General manager Chris Antonetti found a way to navigate around it.
"Chris and his guys did a really good job on this one," Francona said.
Carrasco's eight-game suspension was reduced to seven games after the right-hander dropped his appeal, following a start against the Tigers on Saturday. Carrasco was called up from Triple-A Columbus prior to the outing to replace injured starter Zach McAllister, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right middle finger. Carrasco was allowed to pitch during the appeal process.
On Sunday, the Indians announced, as expected, that Carrasco had dropped the appeal and would immediately begin serving his seven-game punishment. The suspension stemmed from an incident on April 9, when Carrasco hit Kevin Youkilis with a pitch one batter after giving up a home run to Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano. Carrasco was sent to Triple-A after that appearance.
With an off-day coming for the Tribe on Thursday, Carrasco's suspension does not disrupt the rotation. Cleveland can keep the rest of its arms on regular rest and avoid needing to promote a spot starter to take Carrasco's spot. With the suspension reduced to seven games, the pitcher can return on either June 17 or 18 against the Royals.
"We can bring him back, and with this off-day we can keep everybody in order," Francona said. "And then we can slot him in where we think it best fits. We'd actually lined it up without the one day [reduction]. So we need to look at that again and see where it helps us the most."
Quote to note
"I don't think anybody in here is happy with the results lately, but I don't see a lack of effort. I think the biggest thing you can do when you're losing is pay attention to detail and do it while you're playing by the seat of your pants. That's probably the best way to do it."
• Francona is an advocate of calling a team meeting when he feels it can benefit his ballclub. Francona is not, however, a proponent of going overboard with yelling at his players during a slump. He said he has changed his style about when and how to hold a team meeting over the years.
"When I think they help," Francona said. "When I was young, probably immature, I'd have a team meeting and scream, and the only person it helped was me. You've relieved stress. I remember one time in Philadelphia, we were pretty bad and I had a team meeting. [Bench coach Brad Mills] came in after and I said, 'Millsy, what did I say?' He said, 'I have no idea. Neither does anybody else.' So that doesn't really help.
"I guess if you get to that point you probably waited too long. We met in Cincinnati briefly [in late May], and it was probably two minutes. Meetings can be overrated. Meetings can also be helpful. In my opinion, I try to do whatever I think is helpful for our team, and that's just how I've always been."
• Cleveland cycled through a variety of backup shortstops throughout last season when Asdrubal Cabrera was forced to miss time. With Cabrera currently on the 15-day disabled list with a right quad strain, Francona feels fortunate to have a sound defensive replacement in Mike Aviles, who was Boston's everyday shortstop last season.
"You can't flip a switch and get hits when you start playing," Francona said. "But he plays a Major League shortstop. That's a pretty big compliment. You lose a guy like Cabrera, and you've got a guy out there playing every day that you're comfortable playing every day."
• Francona noted that Indians All-Star closer Chris Perez is scheduled to throw off a mound on Tuesday in Cleveland. Perez, who resumed a throwing program earlier this week, has been on the 15-day disabled list with a right shoulder injury since May 27. He has dealt with shoulder woes off and on since Spring Training.
• Throughout the Tribe's recent six-game losing streak, one of the problems has been playing from behind early in the game. Entering Sunday's tilt in Detroit, Cleveland had been outscored, 26-2, in the first three innings combined over the past six games, and the starting rotation had gone 0-6 with an 8.49 ERA in that stretch.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.