6/22/2013 8:09 P.M. ET
Stubbs' speed, instincts pay dividends on basepaths
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- There have been three instances in the Major Leagues this season where a baserunner tagged up at third base and scored on a sacrifice fly to a second baseman. As this piece of trivia was being relayed to Indians outfielder Drew Stubbs, he smiled ever so slightly.
"I've got two of them," Stubbs said.
It is a rare feat that requires a combination of instincts and speed -- a pair of attributes that Stubbs consistently displays on the basepaths for Cleveland. Stubbs came through again in the third inning of the Tribe's 5-1 victory over the Twins on Friday night, when Jason Kipnis sent a soft flyout to second baseman Brian Dozier.
Dozier made the catch easily, saw Stubbs sprint for home and dropped the ball on the transfer.
The was enough of a window for Stubbs to score the Indians' second run of the game.
"That was an unbelievable piece of baserunning," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He has no business scoring right there."
Truth be told, Stubbs did not plan on scoring on that play. He said his initial goal was to tag up and sprint for a couple steps to see what Dozier would do. Stubbs did not need to position himself halfway to the plate, because if Dozier had not made the catch, the Tribe outfielder would have been able to jog home for an easy run. When Minnesota's second baseman dropped the ball, Stubbs simply kept going.
"I was not anticipating scoring," Stubbs said. "Once I saw the ball come out of his glove and hit the ground, I knew that with the break that I got, that I probably had a good chance to score."
Stubbs also scored on a sacrifice fly to Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano on June 3 in New York.
Friday's run was another example of how Stubbs' speed can put pressure on the defense. He also can affect a pitcher when he is on first base. Earlier in the third inning, Stubbs drew a leadoff walk and sprinted from first to third base on a single from Michael Bourn. Francona noted that Twins starter Samuel Deduno used a drastic slide step with Stubbs on first and subsequently elevated a pitch that Bourn was able to attack.
"Deduno did a really good job of not allowing Stubbs to run," Francona said. "But at the same time, he left a ball up to Bourny that he hit through the hole. To that point in the game, he hadn't left anything up. And then he glided into third. He goes first to third as good as anybody in the league. So his speed plays in all facets of the game."
Francona planning to slot Swish into lineup soon
CLEVELAND -- With a day game looming on Sunday, Indians manager Terry Francona opted to keep Nick Swisher out of the lineup on Saturday for the seventh straight game due to soreness in the first baseman's left shoulder. The Indians manager noted that the current plan calls for Swisher to make his return either Sunday against the Twins or on Monday in Baltimore.
"I think we're both on the same page," Francona said. "The good news is, he's coming. Is it [Sunday]? I'd say probably, but it'll be the next day, if not."
Francona said he discussed the situation on Friday night with Swisher, informing the first baseman of his hesitance to start him in a night game on Saturday followed by a day game. When Swisher does return, Francona said he can play first base. The manager said he does not feel the need to ease him into game action as a designated hitter.
Prior to Saturday's game against Minnesota, Swisher took swings in the cage on the field during an early round of batting practice. He is likely available off the bench as a pinch-hitter, if absolutely necessary.
"I don't want to have him down for four, five or six days and not have it be productive," Francona said. "He's doing pretty good. You have four days down, so you've got to let that thing heal a little bit. ... Then you've got to ramp up, but if you go too fast, you'll set yourself back. We're trying to do it at an appropriate pace."
Swisher has hit .237 with seven home runs, 14 doubles and 24 RBIs through 61 games after signing a five-year, $56 million contract over the winter. He last played on June 15 against the Nationals, and he has hit .134 (9-for-67) with 20 strikeouts in his last 18 games.
Baerga, Hart celebrated on Indians HOF weekend
CLEVELAND -- The Indians have used this weekend as a celebration of the contributions made by Carlos Baerga and John Hart during their time with the organization. On Saturday, Baerga and Hart were officially inducted into the Indians' Hall of Fame.
Indians manager Terry Francona smiled when asked for his memories of Baerga as a player.
"I remember he didn't look like a player," Francona said. "I don't mean that in a bad way, but boy could he hit. And he loved to play. His enthusiasm was infectious. If I could hit that good, I'd be happy, too. But he really liked to play the game."
In parts of eight seasons with Cleveland, Baerga made three American League All-Star teams and earned a pair of Silver Slugger Awards for his work as a second baseman. Overall, Baerga hit .299 with 104 home runs, 190 doubles, 549 runs, 565 RBIs and 1,097 hits in his 941 games with the Tribe.
Between the 1992-94 campaigns, Baerga hit .316 with an average of 20 homers, 31 doubles, 93 runs and 100 RBIs per season.
Over the past couple of years, the 44-year-old Baerga has served as a guest instructor for the Indians during Spring Training, and he has been a regular presence at Progressive Field during the season. Francona said the energy Baerga had during his playing days has carried over into retirement.
"He's unbelievably enthusiastic about whatever he does," Francona said. "I don't think that will ever stop. I know he did some event this spring with my dad [former Indian Tito Francona]. My dad, I think, wants to adopt him. He loves him."
Hart spent several years working in the Indians' front office, serving as the team's general manager from 1991-2001. During his time as the Tribe's GM, the ballclub went 870-681 with six division titles and a pair of appearances in the World Series.
Quote to note
"It's hard to find a guy who can play shortstop every day that isn't playing shortstop every day. There's not too many of those guys around. From the day Cabby went down, I don't think Mike's had a day off, and he's played a quality shortstop. That's a hard guy to find. I was ecstatic the day we got him, and I'm every bit as happy that we have him now."
--Indians manager Terry Francona, on Mike Aviles filling in for injured shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera
• Indians starter Zach McAllister (right middle finger sprain) played catch at up to 105 feet on Friday and will advance to 120 feet on Sunday. McAllister will then begin a second throwing progression without wearing protective tape on his hand, prior to advancing to throwing off a mound, according to manager Terry Francona. There is still no clear-cut timetable for McAllister's return from the disabled list.
"No, it's probably a little ways away," said Francona, referring to when McAllister might throw off a mound. "Again, this is not something to mess around with. He's got to be completely symptom free when he starts to throw without that tape [on his finger]."
• Entering Saturday's game with the Twins, the Indians' starting rotation had posted a 2.83 ERA (22 earned runs in 70 innings) over the team's past 11 games, dating back to June 9. Over that span, Cleveland lowered its staff ERA to 4.27 from 4.56. The Indians headed into Saturday's action with a 28-14 record in games that included at least six innings logged by the starting pitcher.
• Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis entered Saturday's game having reached base via hit, walk or hit-by-pitch in 23 consecutive games. For the month of June, Kipnis was hitting .355 (22-for-62) with six extra-base hits, seven runs and 12 RBIs through 18 games for the Indians. The second baseman had a .302 average with a .915 OPS in his last 45 games, dating back to May 3. Prior to that stretch, Kipnis hit .189 with a .535 OPS in his first 18 games this season.
• Entering Saturday, the Indians had advanced from first to third base or first to home on a base hit 46 times this season. That was tied with the Tigers for the highest total in the American League. Drew Stubbs was one of the AL leads with nine sprints from first to third or home.The Rangers' Adrian Beltre, the Tigers' Austin Jackson and the Angels' Mike Trout (10 apiece) were tied for the league lead.
• On Saturday, the Indians signed a pair of picks from this year's First-Year Player Draft. Cleveland reached a deal with its fourth-round selection (111th overall) Kyle Crockett, a left-hander out of the University of Virginia, as well as 15th-round pick James Roberts, an infielder out of USC. The Indians have now signed 20 of their 39 Draft picks.