4/26/2014 9:09 P.M. ET
Francona not surprised by Atchison's success
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Indians manager Terry Francona was amused during Spring Training by people who did not think reliever Scott Atchison would make the Opening Day roster. Francona feels Atchison's success should not be a surprise for anyone.
"Atch can pitch," Francona said Saturday morning. "He doesn't beat himself. He throws strikes. He's got late movement. He's just 38 and has got gray hair. Other than that, he can pitch."
Francona and Atchison have known each other since their days with the Red Sox. This past offseason, when the veteran right-hander became a free agent in December, the Indians convinced Atchison to sign with Cleveland on a Minor League contract.
Atchison made the club out of Spring Training and has performed well out of the bullpen in the season's first month.
Atchison's role varies by the game, but his main responsibility to this point has been to keep the score close late in games when Cleveland is losing. Through nine appearances, the right-hander has posted a 2.70 ERA and 0.70 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) to go along with eight strikeouts and two walks in 10 innings.
"You don't want to overuse guys like that," Francona said, "because then they get beat up a little bit. In the past, that's what's happened to him. He's been that 12th guy, so he's sucked up innings when he probably shouldn't. Plus, he got hurt [in 2012 and '13]. A couple other times, his ERA went up. But he can pitch.
"He's valuable. He's good. There was a reason when he was available that we were kind of banging on his door. I think going into camp, we were going to be surprised if he didn't have a good showing. You never quite know how the staff is going to set up, but that was not surprising that he came in knowing how to pitch."
Indians address Carrasco's mechanics concerns
SAN FRANCISCO -- Indians manager Terry Francona and pitching coach Mickey Callaway met with starter Carlos Carrasco on Saturday morning to gain some clarity about the pitcher's recent comments about his mechanics.
Throughout the winter and Spring Training, Callaway and Carrasco concentrated on having the pitcher raise his lead arm in his delivery to create more deception. Following his loss to the Giants on Friday, Carrasco said he felt as though he was pitching with less velocity with the raised slot and with more velocity when he lowered his left arm.
Callaway said that was not the case.
"We talked to him this morning about it after reading his comments," Callaway said. "I think we're all on the same page on where we want his arm. We want it up. He's throwing harder when his arm is up. It just doesn't feel like it.
"It's like a golfer. I can swing as hard as I can, and it's not going to be as powerful as when I swing easy and square the ball up. He has the feeling it's more powerful, even though it's not."
Callaway said he presented Carrasco with statistical data to support the fact that the raised arm slot actually increases the right-hander's pitch speed. Francona also wanted to make sure that Carrasco still wanted to proceed with the altered mechanics.
"We want to put him in the best position to succeed, so we visited with him about that," Francona said. "I know he said something about when his arm's up, he was throwing 92 [mph]. This is what we have to get to, because maybe that's what it feels like, but that's not what it is. He was 94-96 actually on the first two hitters of the game. They got hits.
"We tried to just stress with him, 'Hey, if that's how you feel, talk to Mickey, so he can help you.' He understands. He wants to feel comfortable [with the mechanics]. That's his goal. We asked him that, because again, we're not going to make someone do something they don't want to do.
"He said, 'No, I definitely want to get there, and Mickey explained why, being in a power position and things like that. It's ongoing."
On the season, Carrasco is 0-3 with a 6.95 ERA in four starts for the Indians. In Friday's outing, the right-hander worked a season-high six innings, during which he allowed four runs on five hits with six strikeouts and one walk against San Francisco.
With leg healed, Bourn getting hot for Indians
SAN FRANCISCO -- Michael Bourn is beginning to feel like himself again. In the batter's box, on the basepaths and in center field, Bourn no longer is thinking about the left hamstring injury that robbed him of the second half of Spring Training.
The results on the field have been backing up that feeling.
"I think most of all, the game is slowing down to me now," Bourn said Saturday. "When I first got up here, it felt fast for some reason. It felt fast. The balls looked like they were coming harder, even like how the ball was moving through the infield. People turning double plays, getting to the balls.
"I didn't get that last week, week-and-a-half of Spring Training, which I think is really crucial."
Instead, Bourn was forced to work through a gradual rehab of his left hamstring strain, which he sustained while running the bases March 16. During a stay on the disabled list, Bourn appeared in five Minor League rehab games, going just 3-for-20 at the plate between stops at Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus.
Bourn then went 1-for-13 in his first three games after being activated by Cleveland. After tallying a single and double in Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Giants, though, Bourn had hit at a .370 (10-for-27) clip with two triples, three RBIs, one walk, one stolen base and three runs in his past six games for the Indians.
"You hope guys are going to go 4-for-4, but I don't know how realistic that is," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "They just need to see pitches and they need to get in a groove. He needs to get his legs under him and he's starting to do that. He'll be fine."
Bourn said the important thing early on for him was not to focus too much on his batting average. The center fielder was confident he would be able to turn things around once he regained his timing in the batter's box.
"No matter how many rehab games you play, man, this is a different level," Bourn said. "The breaking ball is a little tighter. The fastball's got a little bit more giddy-up. That's how it is. I just think my timing is getting back to where I like it right now. It's getting better. And I try not to look ahead to the next game. That's what gets you.
"I try not to tell myself to go out there and get four hits in a game. Just go get one and work from there. Don't try to do too much in one game. I think that's the hardest thing to learn about playing up here. You don't have to try to get it all back at once. You look up at the scoreboard and you see you're hitting .070 or something. You get one hit, it'll go up from there."
Quote to note
"I don't pay attention to outside opinions. I value our organizational opinions and I also understand why we do things. We talk it through. Part of being a manager is being patient when it's called for. That's part of the job. If you reacted to everything that didn't go right, you would never even have a team."
• Down 5-1 in the ninth inning of Friday's loss to the Giants, Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera successfully stole third base. Francona has appreciated Cabrera's aggressive style of play of late, but he also said the shortstop better know he is going to be safe in that kind of situation.
"You better always be safe," Francona said Saturday. "That's the last thing you want to do, is run into an out in a situation like that. You can kind of say, 'OK, what did it do?' because we needed four runs. Still, though, Cabby's been very aggressive in all of his game. He laid a bunt down. He moved up on a ball in the dirt. So, I'm kind of OK with what he's [doing].
"He's out there trying to do something to kind of spark us. Even though it didn't really impact the game, I still think he's trying. I'm OK with that. Cabby's not the kind of guy to try to pad a stat. He's just trying hard to do something."
• Entering Saturday's game against San Francisco, Indians first baseman Nick Swisher was tied with his American League positional peers with a league-worst three errors on the season. Francona expressed confidence that Swisher could clean up his defensive game as the season progresses.
"He's made a couple errors," Francona said. "But he's got good hands. It's just sometimes he gets himself in a position where he gets a little too much movement. Any time you move your head -- when you're hitting or fielding -- [it doesn't help]. When he's quiet fielding a ball, he's got good actions."
• The wife of Indians catcher Yan Gomes is due to give birth to their first child any day now, meaning a trip to the Major League paternity list is in his near future. Without a third catcher on the 40-man roster, Cleveland would need to make a subsequent roster move once Gomes leaves. Two options at Triple-A Columbus are veteran George Kottaras and prospect Roberto Perez.
• San Francisco had a little fun at the Indians' expense Saturday, giving out replica World Series rings from the Giants' 1954 sweep of Cleveland to the first 30,000 fans in attendance. That Fall Classic included Willie Mays' famous catch in center field at the Polo Grounds in New York.