8/8/2013 7:09 P.M. ET
Francona sticking with Cabrera at cleanup
By Mark Emery / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- The frustrations of Asdrubal Cabrera were evident Wednesday, as the Indians shortstop slammed his batting helmet to the ground multiple times following disappointing at-bats.
With how Cabrera has hit lately, it might seem time to some that he's lowered in Cleveland's batting order. Tribe manager Terry Francona doesn't think so. Though Cabrera isn't producing at the moment, Francona is confident he will soon, and when that happens, the manager wants those contributions to come at cleanup.
"To be really just bluntly honest, if he doesn't get hot, we might not be good enough," Francona said. "I'm not trying to put all that on him. But I just think for the moment we're better staying put."
Before the Tribe's 6-5 loss in 14 innings on Wednesday concluded, Cabrera made six appearances at the plate, and none of them ended well. Cabrera, batting cleanup for the 15th time in the past 16 games, turned in the second 0-for-6 performance of his career.
Cabrera's shift to the four-hole corresponded with Francona's decision to slot Nick Swisher into the No. 2 position in the batting order. In his past 10 games, Cabrera is hitting .122/.140/.171 with a couple of doubles and two RBIs. Also, he is batting .183 since July 4.
Francona compared batting Cabrera fourth to playing blackjack.
"You go through runs where you get cold, you get hot," Francona said. "Cabby's got a pretty good track record. If you move Cabby too soon, say, down to sixth or seventh, he's going to get hot. It's like if you're playing 50 bucks, 50 bucks, 50 bucks, and all of a sudden you get hot and you're playing for five.
"He's going to get hot, and I'd like to get the most out of it and keep him where he is. "
During his time at cleanup, Cabrera is batting .210/.242/.323 with four doubles, one home run and seven RBIs. With the Indians lacking a true No. 4 hitter and Cabrera being a veteran and two-time All-Star, Francona believes the current lineup suits his roster best.
"He hasn't swung the bat I think as well as he'd like," Francona said, "but he handles it.
"I think there's been times where he's gone up there and almost predetermined when he's going to swing. There's times when it looks like he's ready to get hot, and then there's times when he's kind of spinning off balls. It seems like a lot of it's been when there's runners in scoring position. He's gotten a little antsy, a little overaggressive."
Pestano far from forgotten at Triple-A
CLEVELAND -- Vinnie Pestano was understandably upset when the Indians optioned him to Triple-A Columbus at the end of July.
But the reliever's spirits have since lifted, according to Tribe manager Terry Francona. Pestano and Francona were texting each other Thursday afternoon, and Francona said Pestano is far from forgotten, as much as the Indians are concerned.
"It's funny," Francona said, "because we sent the guy down, and I think we've had more conversations about him and with him than probably anybody in the organization. It's not out of sight, out of mind."
That makes sense, considering Pestano's contributions to the club. Last season, he set the single-season franchise record for holds with 36. The Tribe setup man compiled a 2.32 ERA in 2011 and 2.57 ERA in '12.
It's 2013 that has been difficult for Pestano. In 34 games before his demotion, he built a 4.05 ERA and 1.79 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Pestano has appeared in three games for the Clippers since joining them last month. He has thrown 3 1/3 scoreless innings with zero hits, one walk and four strikeouts.
"To his credit, he's gone down there with a really good attitude, because it's not easy," Francona said. "This guy was the guy, man, for two years ... and all of a sudden you're sending him to Triple-A. That's hard. It's not fun for me. It's not fun for him. And I think he's handling it really well."
Quote to note
"Everybody always tells me, they say, 'You're so patient.' I'm really not. Everybody that knows me knows how impatient I am. I yell at cab drivers. I have no patience. But my job requires it, or I think you don't do your job correctly." -- Francona
• After Thursday's series finale against Detroit, the Tribe has 47 games remaining on its schedule, 29 of which will come against teams with sub-.500 records. Cleveland has gone 34-14 against such clubs this season, while posting a 28-38 mark against teams above .500.
Cleveland (62-52) entered Thursday six games behind Detroit in the American League Central. The Tigers have won 12 of 15 meetings this season. In the AL Wild Card race, the Indians are 2 1/2 games out of a spot. Over the past 10 years, the fifth-best team in the league has averaged 90.3 wins.
"If we win more games than the Tigers," general manager Chris Antonetti said, "regardless of whether we beat the Tigers or we win all of our remaining games and don't beat the Tigers, it matters who has more wins at the end of the year, us or the Tigers."
• Though Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera belted an eighth-inning, go-ahead home run off Cleveland's Danny Salazar on Wednesday, last year's AL MVP didn't forget what happened in his first three at-bats.
"He struck me out the first three times," Cabrera said. "That kid is going to be special in the Major Leagues. He's got a great arm. His fastball touched 99, 100, with a very good slider, a very good split and a changeup. With that kind of stuff he's got, he's going to be very good in the big leagues."
• Pitcher Josh Tomlin will make his next rehab outing on Sunday. The plan is for him to throw three innings or 50 pitches, whichever happens first. In Wednesday's rehab appearance at Double-A Akron, Tomlin threw 29 pitches over two scoreless innings.
Tomlin is on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from the Tommy John surgery he underwent in August 2012.
• With righty Preston Guilmet recalled from Triple-A Columbus on Thursday after the Tribe designated infielder Mark Reynolds for assignment, the Indians have eight pitchers in their bullpen and will likely continue to for an extended period of time.
"Going into today, from where we sit, we think we're a better team with an eight-man bullpen," Francona said. "The best way to derail a season is to get your bullpen out of whack, so we won't do that. We'll see how it goes."
Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.