7/26/2013 8:01 P.M. ET
Indians want to tighten things up on defense
By Jordan Bastian and Mark Emery / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- After watching his club commit nine errors during the recent road trip, Tribe manager Terry Francona figured some extra fielding practice was in order.
The Indians put in more work than usual on Friday before opening up a three-game weekend series with Texas. In the six-game road swing through Minnesota and Seattle that followed the All-Star break, the club went 2-4, with each loss being decided by a run.
Francona wanted to begin the seven-game homestand on a familiar note, hoping to take advantage of players' routines and the comfort they can instill.
"It doesn't mean because we took grounders today, we're going to have a flawless game," the manager said. "But getting back into the routine should certainly help.
"You want to reinforce good habits. We all need to do that. That's just part of the game. You can't just get to a point and quit. You have to get to a point and then continue to do it to stay at that [point]."
Over the last six games, third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall totaled four errors and Jason Kipnis was charged with two. Nick Swisher, Asdrubal Cabrera and Mark Reynolds each committed one.
The Indians have 17 errors in July, tied with five other teams for the second most in baseball, trailing only Toronto (19). On the season, Cleveland has piled up 64 errors and compiled a .983 fielding percentage, fifth and 11th in the American League, respectively.
Despite all that happened in the last week, the Tribe is still 18-13 in one-run games.
"When you're playing one-run games, you have to play very clean if you want to win," Francona said. "Teams go through stretches where you don't hit or you don't pitch. We've actually been pitching pretty well. We've gone through a little bit of a streak here where we're not finishing plays, or missing plays. Hopefully, that will change, because that's a big part of winning, in my opinion, is playing clean baseball."
All the recent mistakes aside, the Indians understand that errors are part of the game. It's not as if anyone on the team has played himself out of a roster spot as a result of sloppy defense.
"I feel really good about the group of position players we have," general manager Chris Antonetti said, "offensively, defensively, on the bases, the ability to score runs and prevent runs, despite what happened on this past road trip. I'm confident that will be more of a blip than a continuing trend."
Bevy of buyers complicates things for Tribe
CLEVELAND -- Chris Antonetti is actively pursuing multiple avenues for upgrading the Indians' roster, but the general manager is running into the same issue as many clubs: The trade market is flooded with buyers and the asking price for available players is extremely steep.
That is the reality of the market's landscape as Wednesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches.
"As we've looked at the 30 teams," Antonetti said, "you can make the argument that there are 24, or maybe even 25, teams that are either buying or at least holding on to players, and only a select handful of teams that are willing to trade off Major League players.
"It's further complicated for us that at least one, if not more, of those teams that are willing to sell players are in our division."
The addition of a second Wild Card team in each league -- implemented last season -- has created a situation where more teams remain in contention in July. Also complicating matters is the fact that players who are eligible for free agency at season's end no longer come with Draft-pick compensation attached to them.
The latter situation, which is an element of the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement, has made teams more hesitant to part with top prospects.
"It has an impact on the value equation for a team," Antonetti said. "In the past, if you were to trade for a player who's approaching the end of his contract, you knew there was an opportunity at the end of that year to offer arbitration and potentially get a Draft pick to help back-fill some of the talent you may have traded.
"Obviously, that's no longer in place, so it affects, as a team that's buying, it affects maybe your tolerance for the caliber of young players you might be willing to give up."
Given the market's altered landscape, Antonetti said the idea of shifting the non-waiver Trade Deadline to a later date in the regular season will likely be discussed again in the offseason.
"We've talked about that a lot," Antonetti said. "We've talked about it at each of the last two GM Meetings, that exact topic. So I imagine it'll be a topic for discussion again this fall, especially now that we have two years with the new CBA rules. I anticipate it's something we'll talk about again in November."
Indians confident in Reynolds despite slump
CLEVELAND -- The Indians are aware that Mark Reynolds is capable of sending baseballs over the fence and runners across home plate. They just haven't seen a whole lot of that ability lately.
Reynolds did not start on Friday, when Cleveland hosted the Rangers for the first of a three-game series. In his last 16 contests, Reynolds is batting .098/.207/.098 with one RBI and no extra-base hits. He's been in the starting lineup in just four of Cleveland's last nine games.
"He's obviously been in the midst of a tough stretch for him, but we continue to be confident in the person and that Mark's working to try to get out of it," general manager Chris Antonetti said.
The Indians knew Reynolds' primary temperatures were piping hot and freezing cold when they signed him during the offseason. Through his first 28 games of 2013, Reynolds posted a .300/.376/.650 line with five doubles, 10 homers and 27 RBIs.
In that stretch, Reynolds had 13 walks and 27 strikeouts. In the 66 games that followed, Reynolds racked up 90 strikeouts while taking 28 walks.
"As we've seen first-hand, going back to April, Mark can go through stretches where he can carry a team," Antonetti said. "Hopefully, that hot streak is right around the corner."
Quote to note
"The other day in Seattle, we swung the bats and we had a couple errors, but nobody asked me about them because we swung the bats real well. When you're playing one-run games, you have to play very clean if you want to win."
• It is a small sample size, but Francona has liked what he has seen from Swisher and Cabrera since moving them to the lineup's second and fourth spots, respectively. In three games since the switch, Swisher has hit .333 (4-for-12) with one home run and Cabrera has hit .364 (4-for-11) with one homer and four RBIs.
"I like it," Francona said. "Teams are so aware when [leadoff man Michael Bourn] is on ... and we've seen a few instances where they've left fastballs up that have led to rallies. Swish is taking pitches, and Cabby's got a couple big hits hitting fourth. I like it."
• Antonetti confirmed what Francona mentioned earlier this week: Cleveland has not ruled out using starting pitching prospect Danny Salazar as a reliever later this season. The Indians are closely monitoring Salazar's innings in his third season removed from Tommy John surgery.
"We expect, if there's a need, that Danny will impact our team in the second half," Antonetti said. "In fact, our expectation is that he'll impact our pitching staff. That could be in the rotation, if there's a need, or it could be in the bullpen, if that's a route we decide to go."
• Indians top prospect Francisco Lindor has hit .441 (15-for-34) with five stolen bases, four extra-base hits, six RBIs and 10 walks through 10 games since being promoted to Double-A Akron. Multiple teams have inquired about the shortstop in trade discussions with the Indians.
"I think the industry recognizes how special a player Francisco is," Antonetti said. "I think that aligns with how we feel about him."
• Prior to Friday's game with the Rangers, Indians All-Star second baseman Kipnis was named one of 30 preliminary winners of the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association's Heart and Hustle Award. The award honors active players who demonstrate a passion for the game and best embody the values, spirit and tradition of the game.
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.