7/1/2014 10:28 P.M. ET
Santana has new life after strong June
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
LOS ANGELES -- Carlos Santana was not in the starting lineup for the Indians for Tuesday night's game against the Dodgers. One month ago, it might have been a mental break. Now, it is simply a scheduled day off for one of baseball's hottest hitters.
Leaning against a wall outside the visitors' clubhouse at Dodger Stadium, Santana said he is looking forward to what July and the rest of the season will bring. The first baseman turned in a strong showing in June to pull himself out of a two-month slump, reclaiming his place in the heart of Cleveland's batting order.
"For me, it was great. I had a great June," Santana said. "This is a new month and I need to keep working the same way and doing my same approach. I know the team needs me."
Entering Tuesday, the switch-hitting Santana was sporting a .205/.357/.390 slash line through 72 games this season, but the overall numbers are misleading at the moment. In June, Santana hit .308 with six home runs, 15 RBIs and the sixth-highest OPS (1.015) in the American League.
That spike in production came after Santana hit .151 (.593 OPS) in April and .169 (.668 OPS) in May. Santana caught fire after his season average dipped to .146 on May 21. Since then, he has hit .311 with seven homers, 13 extra-base hits, 15 runs, 19 walks and 19 RBIs in 26 games. His 1.062 OPS in that span ranked second to only the Angels' Mike Trout (1.236) in the Majors.
"The only thing I changed was my mental approach," Santana said. "I've been thinking very positive. I know what kind of player I can be."
Santana returned to Cleveland's lineup on June 6 after missing nine games while dealing with a mild concussion. While the situation was not ideal, Indians manager Terry Francona believes the time off helped.
"The fresh start after he got the concussion," Francona said, "I thought that allowed him to kind of gather himself. Sometimes, you get so overwhelmed. You're trying something new every day and it's just beating you up. I thought he was able to take a step back. I thought that was good for him."
Santana feels he will ultimately be better because of all the issues he dealt with this year.
"If I have a bad situation or a struggling moment," Santana said, "I am getting more experience in my life and career. I wouldn't want any player to go through that, but I'm learning from it and getting more experience. Baseball isn't easy. Nothing is easy."
Salazar may be pitching for Tribe again soon
LOS ANGELES -- The Indians had high hopes for Danny Salazar when they handed him a spot in the Opening Day rotation. Salazar, who was optioned on May 16 after a 1-4 start, is currently working out some kinks at Triple-A Columbus, but Cleveland continues to believe he will impact its season.
"I think he will once he's ready," Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway said prior to Tuesday's matchup with the Dodgers. "He's going to be able to help us out a lot -- kind of like he did last year. He's got the stuff. We're looking forward to having him back in the rotation at some point."
Last season, Salazar was stellar over 10 starts with the Tribe, striking out 65 in 52 innings while posting a 3.12 ERA and earning a start in the American League Wild Card Game. This year, the 24-year-old right-hander had a 5.53 ERA after eight starts before being sent down to the Clippers.
Salazar missed some time with a right triceps injury in the Minors, but he has been solid since coming off the disabled list. In his past four outings, the righty has posted a 3.47 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and registered 29 strikeouts against six walks in 23 1/3 innings. On Monday, Salazar struck out nine, walked one and gave up one run in 7 1/3 innings against Louisville.
"It sounded like he looked good. His [velocity] was good," Callaway said. "It looks like he's getting ready to come up here and help out. I've seen his mechanics. He's pretty much where he was last year at the end of the year. He's looking really good. That's exciting for us."
Asked if Salazar might be an option for the Indians soon, Callaway was quick to note that T.J. House has pitched well as Cleveland's fifth starter and Zach McAllister has made strides at Triple-A, too.
"The thing is we've got so many options," Callaway said. "Zach is pitching good again. T.J. has done well. It's a good problem to have."
Quote to note
"He's a little bit different now than he used to be. He used to kind of grip it and rip it. And, he competed his rear end off. I'm sure that's still the case, but he's a little bit different pitcher. ... But, if you notice by looking at the stats, he's every bit as effective, if not more so now. It's a guy I root for a lot, just not [on Tuesday]."
-- Indians manager Terry Francona, on Dodgers Tuesday starter Josh Beckett, who pitched for the manager during their days with the Red Sox
• With no designated hitter in use at Dodger Stadium, Francona sat Santana and gave Nick Swisher the nod at first base. Swisher (.192 average through 64 games) was on the bench in the previous three games with no DH on this road trip, but Francona did not want to have him out of the lineup for the entire series in Los Angeles.
"I didn't want Swish to go four days in a row with the day off [Thursday] not playing," Francona said. "You kind of have a responsibility to kind of keep everybody hopefully going in the right direction, so you try to pick spots where you think it makes the most sense and do it."
• The Indians plan on honoring radio man Tom Hamilton's 25 years behind the mic during a pregame ceremony on Aug. 1. Throughout the game against the Rangers, many of Hamilton's memorable calls will be played at Progressive Field. The Indians will also have postgame fireworks that night. On Aug. 2, Cleveland will unveil its statue of Jim Thome, the franchise's all-time home run leader.
• On Tuesday, the Indians named Triple-A Columbus catcher Roberto Perez the organization's Minor League player of the week for the period of June 23-29. During that span, Perez hit .316 (6-for-19) with one home run, one double, three RBIs and a .918 OPS in five games. In his past eight games, the catcher has hit .357 with eight RBIs and a 1.139 OPS.