5/20/2014 6:38 P.M. ET
Swisher remaining patient during slow start at plate
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- Nick Swisher has been through this before. Just last summer, the Indians first baseman was mired in a midseason slump very similar to the one he has experienced out of the gate this season.
As Cleveland's campaign progressed in 2013, Swisher eventually warmed up in the batter's box, turning in a strong September that helped the Tribe to the postseason. Swisher believes he is beginning to regain his comfort zone this year, too.
"I feel pretty good," Swisher said. "I've been putting in a lot of work. For me, when I get into these slides, I have to hit myself out of them."
Indians manager Terry Francona has done his part in trying to light a spark in Swisher's bat, moving the switch-hitting first baseman to the seventh spot of the lineup over the past few games. Swisher spent his time as the Tribe's No. 2 hitter for the season's first eight weeks, but has only experienced offensive success in spurts.
"Hey, man, I'm here to win. If I have to hit ninth, I'll hit ninth," Swisher said. "Maybe Tito dropping me in the lineup, taking a little pressure off, just relaxing a little more, getting to be able to watch the first couple innings and seeing what pitchers are doing -- I back him 100 percent.
"He knows what he's doing. There's a reason why he's the manager here and there's a reason why we all respect the [heck] out of him."
Between April 20 and June 26 last season -- the dates on which Swisher's batting average was at a season high (.310) and low (.229), respectively -- the first baseman hit just .203 with five homers, 17 RBIs, 50 strikeouts, 24 walks and a .637 OPS in 49 games. Through 44 games this season, he has hit .204 with three homers, 17 RBIs, 42 strikeouts, 25 walks and a .620 OPS for Cleveland.
Over his final 22 games in September last season, Swisher hit at a .294 clip with seven homers, 17 RBIs and a .968 OPS in helping the Indians clinch the American League's top Wild Card. Swisher said he can reflect on that experience while tackling the current situation.
"It hasn't been the start that I wanted it to [be]," he said. "But we have 75 percent of the season left. For me, [hitting seventh] is not really a spot that I've really been in before, so I'm going to have to fight and scrap and battle myself out."
Tribe activates Giambi, recalls Bauer
CLEVELAND -- Jason Giambi has had a place in the Indians' clubhouse all season, but the veteran is ready to also begin having a spot in the lineup once again. With two stints on the disabled list already this year, Giambi is hoping to finally put all the waiting behind him.
Prior to Tuesday's game against the Tigers, the Indians activated the 43-year-old Giambi from the 15-day DL, following his bout with a right calf strain. Cleveland also recalled right-hander Trevor Bauer and utility man Justin Sellers from Triple-A, and optioned first baseman Jesus Aguilar, lefty T. J. House and infielder Jose Ramirez to Triple-A to clear three spots on the active roster.
"I'm excited to be back," said Giambi, who landed on the DL to start the season after fracturing a rib in his right side during the spring. "I went basically broken rib, played a few games and then calf injury. That kind of happens when you get that short Spring Training and you don't really get to play much."
Giambi was most recently placed on the 15-day DL on May 5 after sustaining a right calf injury in a game against the White Sox one day earlier. The veteran DH and pinch-hitter has gone 0-for-10 for Cleveland this season between two stints on the DL.
For Tuesday's game, Giambi was on the bench in order for Lonnie Chisenhall (.371 average through 32 games) to be in the lineup against Detroit righty Justin Verlander. Indians manager Terry Francona said Giambi might return to the lineup for Wednesday's game against the Tigers.
"I'm going to have to figure that one out, because Lonnie is swinging the bat pretty well," Francona said. "We've got a noon game [Wednesday]. We may see if anyone needs a [day off]. I'll figure that out. We'll try to make it work where it helps us on a day when we could use a left-handed bat."
The 23-year-old Bauer (Tuesday's starter for the Tribe) went 4-1 with a 2.15 ERA in seven starts for Columbus this season, and made a spot start for the Indians on April 9 against the Padres. The right-hander is being given the chance to stick in the rotation after Cleveland sent struggling starter Danny Salazar to Triple-A Friday.
Sellers assumes the roster spot previously held by Ramirez, who hit .080 (2-for-25) in 11 games since being called up to fortify the bench on May 2. Sellers has hit .227 with seven doubles, one home run and 15 RBIs in 37 games for Triple-A Columbus. He has appeared in 29 games at shortstop, two games each at second and third base and four games in left field.
Kipnis could return Monday in Chicago
CLEVELAND -- It is no secret that Indians All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis enjoys playing in his hometown of Chicago. With that in mind, it also makes sense that Kipnis is targeting Cleveland's upcoming trip to the Windy City for his return from the disabled list.
"Depending on how he feels," Indians manager Terry Francona said, "I think that's realistic."
Kipnis -- currently on the 15-day disabled list with a right oblique injury -- is tentatively scheduled to begin a Minor League rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus on Friday. The current plan calls for Kipnis to play again with Columbus on Saturday before resting Sunday. He could then potentially be activated on Monday, when Cleveland opens a three-game road series against the White Sox.
Francona reiterated that the plan can change if Kipnis feels he needs more rehab games.
"Whatever he needs," Francona said. "We've talked to him pretty much at length. I think everybody is on the same page. We just want to make sure he feels ready to play here. And he doesn't have to play every day when he comes back."
In 27 games prior to the injury, Kipnis hit .234 with three home runs, four stolen bases, six doubles, 12 runs, 12 RBIs and 17 walks for the Indians. The second baseman injured his right side during a fourth-inning swing against the Angels on April 29 in Anaheim.
To this point, Kipnis has faced no setbacks in his recovery.
"Everything is going well so far," Kipnis said. "We're pushing it, but we're not pushing it too fast to a point where my body can't handle it. If we see signs of soreness, we take it back a little bit."
Quote to note
"I hit it kind of low. I just hit a line drive. I was kind of nervous at the same time, trying to run, I didn't know what to do. I was fortunate enough. The ball goes out and, after that, you don't remember too much until you get to your teammates and they start beating on you."
--Indians left fielder Michael Brantley on Monday's walk-off home run
• The Indians optioned Aguilar to Triple-A Columbus on Tuesday, one day after the rookie collected his first hit and RBI in Cleveland's 5-4, 10-inning win over the Tigers. Aguilar ended the evening 1-for-3 with an RBI single and run-scoring sacrifice fly. Aguilar went 1-for-7 in his four-game stint with Cleveland.
"I was thrilled for Aggy that he pitched in yesterday and helped us win the game," Francona said on Tuesday. "I thought he was really pressing. We sometimes forget, because we're in the grind of trying to win games and going about our business, you forget this kid just [came up]. You put them in the lineup and expect them to play. He hadn't got a hit and he was really feeling it.
"When he got that infield hit [in the fifth inning], you could just see him relax. Then he went up and got that last pitch for the sac fly and he was really feeling good about himself. ... He's going back knowing that this is where he wants to be, but he just needs to go play."
• Prior to Tuesday's game, Francona had the chance to catch up with former Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who is an assistant to Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski. Francona said he has admired and respected Leyland from across the diamond since their days in the Minor Leagues.
"He's so fun," Francona said. "I said, 'Man, you look great.' And he was just telling me how much he's enjoying himself. Then he made a comment about how I look, which he's allowed to. I was just out there talking to him. I just enjoy him so much. He's so much about what's good about our game."
• Indians setup man Cody Allen was charged with a blown save on Monday after allowing a game-tying, solo home run to Detroit's J.D. Martinez in the ninth inning. Allen has allowed four runs in his past inning of work (two games) after giving up three runs in his previous 16 innings (20 games), boosting his season ERA to 3.71 from 1.69.
"Pitchers, they go through little periods where they don't feel totally comfortable out there," Allen said. "I felt fine [Monday]. [Sunday] was a day where I just didn't feel comfortable out there. I threw one pitch where [Martinez] was able to get it up in the air and drive the ball out to center field."
• On Tuesday, the Indians named Class A Lake County right-hander Robbie Aviles the organization's Minor League player of the week for May 12-18. The 22-year-old Aviles spun six no-hit, shutout innings against West Michigan on Friday. In three starts since moving out of the Captains' bullpen, the righty has allowed three runs in 19 innings with eight strikeouts and five walks.