5/19/2014 8:51 P.M. ET
After watching from afar, Kipnis eager to return
By Jordan Bastian and Alec Shirkey / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has experienced his team's struggles this season from a new vantage point. While coming back from his right oblique injury, Kipnis has watched things unfold either from the dugout or from his couch at home.
Kipnis has not enjoyed the view, but he still believes Cleveland has the pieces in place to pull itself out of the current funk.
"For the first time, I'm watching the game completely different," Kipnis said on Monday. "Even when I'm in the games and watching at-bats, I've really never watched it the way I'm watching now. Now I'm watching tendencies, guys' approaches, tons of stuff. I watched every inning of every game on the road trip. I was on the couch watching everything.
"You get caught a little bit. You don't want to forget how hard this game is. It happens sometimes when I'll be screaming at the TV like, 'Why are we swinging at that?' I'll be like, 'Wait a minute. I swing at that all the time.' It's not for a lack of effort. It's a lack of concentration. We have the group of guys that can win games.
"It just comes down to playing better baseball and having the right mindset on getting the job done. There has to be a team focus in here."
Kipnis -- currently on the 15-day disabled list -- took Monday off from swinging because he took an aggressive approach over the past few days, advancing from tee work to hitting live pitching in the cage. Prior to Monday's game, Kipnis did some fielding drills and tested his recovering side with some sprints on the basepaths.
Kipnis hopes to begin a Minor League rehab assignment by the coming weekend.
"There's a plan. It's not set in stone yet," Kipnis said. "We still have some hoops to jump through. If those go well, hopefully we can do rehab games by the end of the week. That's the idea, but we still have to crank it up in terms of the amount of swings, the intensity of swings, grounders, throws."
Bauer arrives in Cleveland aiming to stick with Tribe
CLEVELAND -- Trevor Bauer's opportunity to turn potential into production has arrived. The pitching prospect had a locker in Cleveland's clubhouse on Monday and he arrived to Progressive Field with the knowledge that this was no longer a one-day stay.
Bauer has graduated from spot starter to rotation member, and the Indians are hoping the right-hander runs away with the role.
"Hopefully what the really good part of this will be is it's not just a one-start thing," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We're kind of excited to see how he's going to do, because we've been talking now for a year. This guy is a big part of what we want to do going forward. And to see him growing and understanding, it's exciting."
Come Tuesday, Bauer will be officially recalled from Triple-A Columbus in order to join the rotation and start the second game of the current three-game set against the Tigers. The 23-year-old right-hander had his path to the starting staff when Cleveland optioned struggling starter Danny Salazar to Columbus on Friday.
At Triple-A, Bauer posted a 2.15 ERA with 44 strikeouts and 14 walks in seven starts for the Clippers. In his lone spot start for Cleveland on April 9, the righty limited the Padres to two runs (one earned) on four hits, ending with eight strikeouts and two walks in a hard-luck loss.
Bauer's success this season comes after a trying 2013 for the pitcher, who was a key piece acquired from Arizona within the blockbuster nine-player trade that the Indians swung with the D-backs and Reds on Dec. 11, 2012. Bauer was undergoing significant mechanical changes and endured subpar results (4.15 ERA, 106 strikeouts and 73 walks in 12 1/3 innings at Triple-A) in the process.
"I've been able to be consistent," Bauer said of his success this season. "I'm not trying to change stuff like I was last year. I had a really good offseason and worked really hard for a long time. So I came into Spring Training with a much better platform to kind of improve on."
Bauer has also enjoyed a significant increase in his fastball velocity. This season, the right-hander has sat around 93-96 mph, topping out at anywhere between 97-99 mph in certain outings. That is a big jump from last season, when he sat around 91-92 mph and topped out at around 94 mph.
"I spent a lot of the offseason working on developing my velocity," Bauer said. "The mechanics put me in a better position to maximize the strength that I have. My mechanical efficiency is higher now than it was last year. I'm strong, I worked on velocity and I get more out of the strength that I do have. It's a pretty complex equation."
'Mike and Mike' visits Cleveland
CLEVELAND -- Cleveland-native Mike Golic has once again returned to his hometown's ballpark and he is hoping it means good things are to come for the Indians.
Golic, along with fellow "Mike and Mike" ESPN radio show host Mike Greenberg, will broadcast live from Progressive Field from 6 to 10 a.m. ET on Tuesday morning. Greenberg threw out the ceremonial pitch before Monday's series opener with the American League Central-leading Detroit Tigers.
The timing of Golic and Greenberg's visit, however, could be an auspicious one for the struggling Indians, who entered Monday having lost six of their last eight games, including a sweep at the hands of the A's over the weekend.
"This year, yes, it's reverse the curse time," Golic said. "Since the Indians are struggling, I don't see any doubt of why we cannot be that catapult to turn this program around. I know [Indians manager Terry Francona] would be extremely happy if we could do that for him."
In 2012, "Mike and Mike" broadcast from an Indians road game at Fenway Park on May 10. After winning the series opener, Cleveland, then sporting a 17-13 record, lost the next three games and finished with a disappointing 68-94 showing on the year. The following season, Greenberg and Golic made the trip to Cleveland for a two-game series with Detroit on May 21. The Indians, who entered that contest riding a five-game winning streak, went on to lose seven of their next eight games.
With the Tribe trailing the Tigers by 10 1/2 games in the AL Central entering the current series and struggling to keep pace with its division rivals, Golic hopes the presence of "Mike and Mike" can have the opposite effect this season.
Quote to note
"We're digging ourselves a nice hole. Are we out of it? No. Anybody who's jumping off the bandwagon, see ya. Go. Bye. We're fine with that. We'll be fine. We'll play for the fans we do get. We do still have confidence in here, but it's a ship that we need to right and we need to start playing better baseball, otherwise we're going to keep going this way."
• Indians first baseman Nick Swisher headed into Monday's game batting .196 with three homers and 16 RBIs through 43 games. Swisher, who served as the designated hitter for Monday's game against the Tigers, went through a similar slump last year, hitting .210 across 50 games from April 21-June 28.
"I think guys, in their own way, even veterans sometimes, try too hard," Francona said. "It's coming from a good place. You try to do too much. He knows how important he is to what we're doing and he wants to be the guy bad. Sometimes that plays into the other team's hands. You're geared up for 95 [mph] and they throw it 82.
"It's amazing what a little bit of confidence will do. You get on a roll and things start going. It will change. The sooner it changes, the better for us, because he's such an important part of what we're doing."
• Swisher was on the field early on Monday to field extra ground balls at first. Defense has been a team-wide problem this year for Cleveland, which led the Majors with 45 errors through Sunday. Francona said the Indians will have a team defense workout prior to Tuesday's home game against Detroit.
• Francona noted on Monday that the Indians still plan on activating veteran designated hitter Jason Giambi from the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday. The 43-year-old Giambi has been out since May 5 with a strained right calf.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.