7/27/2014 7:30 P.M. ET
Asdrubal looking to spark second-half surge
Indians shortstop back in lineup against Royals following back spasms
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
KANSAS CITY -- Asdrubal Cabrera returned to the Indians' starting lineup for Sunday's game against the Royals, following a bout with back spams. The veteran shortstop is hoping the club can return to form over the final two months of the season.
Cabrera said it is important for the players to remember that the Tribe rolled to an American League Wild Card berth with a hot stretch last September.
"We've got the same team," Cabrera said on Sunday morning. "Everyone here in the clubhouse was really good. This game is not easy. It's hard. Up and down, up and down all the time. We've got to keep doing what we're doing, play hard and try to win again more like we can.
"We've got to think about last year. We've had ups and downs, too, and we won 21 games in September. That was the key. Anything can happen in the next two months. Let's see what happens."
Indians manager Terry Francona warned against leaning too much on last summer's second-half surge.
"I think you try to learn from everything. That's what we all always feel like," Francona said. "But, every year's different and you can't just bank on winning 10 and a row at the end. I think our guys are aware that, when we play good baseball, we have a good chance to win. When we don't pay attention to detail ... we make it harder for us."
In the Tribe's 10-3 rout of the Royals on Sunday, Cabrera went 2-for-5 and helped ignite a four-run outburst in the fifth inning with a one-out RBI single. On the season, the 28-year-old shortstop has hit .249 with nine home runs, 33 extra-base hits, 40 RBIs and 54 runs scored in 95 games.
Cabrera exited Monday's game in Minnesota with back spasms and then missed five games before Sunday's return. He noted that he was ready and available to play on Saturday.
"I feel good," Cabrera said on Sunday. "Yesterday, in the morning, when I woke up, I felt like I was close to start playing in a game. I came in and hit yesterday, and I felt good. I feel OK."
Kipnis gets break for series finale against KC
KANSAS CITY -- Indians manager Terry Francona worked with second baseman Jason Kipnis on scheduling a day off during this road trip. With an off-day on Monday, they decided Sunday's game was an opportune time to give Kipnis a break.
Kipnis has been mired in a brief slump on the three-city road trip and acknowledged recently that he remains somewhat limited by the right oblique injury that sent him to the disabled list in early May. Francona said the issue is not severe, but it has probably taken a toll on the second baseman's production at the plate.
"I don't think he's in pain," Francona said on Sunday. "I do think there's been balls that he usually gets to hitting-wise that he has either fouled them or swung through them. I think he's frustrated, which I totally get. But, like good players, they play. I'm not sure you can always be 100 percent, or we'd never have a team.
"I think he's not quite been [himself], and I understand it, but from where I sit, you appreciate he's giving it everything he has. That's probably why I'm quick to defend guys, because I think more guys are probably banged up then [people know]."
Entering Sunday's contest in Kansas City, the 27-year-old Kipnis was bating .247 with five home runs, 15 stolen bases, 21 extra-base hits, 33 RBIs and 39 runs scored through 78 games. He was hitting .129 (4-for-31) in his past eight games after going 4-for-10 in the first two games of the road trip in Detroit.
"I just think it'll do him some good," Francona said of giving Kipnis some rest. "Guys play and they figure out a way to play, but sometimes it hurts your production."
Quote to note
"The three [managers] that are going in, I think it's really cool they're going in together, because you're talking about three icons. All three have so many of the same similarities -- the respect of the game and the competitiveness."
-- Francona, on former managers Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre being inducted on Sunday into the the National Baseball Hall of Fame
• Shortstop Francisco Lindor, the Indians' No. 1 prospect, according to MLB.com, went 2-for-3 with a pair of home runs for Triple-A Columbus on Saturday. The 20-year-old Lindor has hit .333 (6-for-18) with one stolen base, three walks, four extra-base hits and five runs in five games since being promoted to Columbus from Double-A Akron.
Francona said there have been no discussions internally yet about the possibility of bringing Lindor to the Major Leagues later this season.
"We haven't even talked about it," Francona said. "He's on a pretty fast track right now. ... I think the organization views Lindor as a mature enough kid that he'll probably handle whatever. So, I think [being in Triple-A] is good for him. He's a pretty young kid, but he's a very mature kid."
• Center fielder Michael Bourn, who is on 15-day disabled list with left hamstring injury, rode on a stationary bike on Sunday morning. During Cleveland's upcoming homestand, Bourn is slated to increase the intensity of his running drills. Francona said there is still no established timetable for when Bourn will begin a Minor League rehab assignment.
• Third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall remained out of the starting lineup on Sunday for a second straight game due to illness. Francona said Chisenhall was suffering from "intestinal turmoil" and hopes the off-day on Monday would help him recover in time for the upcoming homestand.