7/29/2014 7:41 P.M. ET
Tribe not expected to make major additions
By Jordan Bastian and Alec Shirkey / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- Despite entering Tuesday four games back in a tight American League Wild Card race, the Indians have not been expected to be heavy buyers ahead of the non-waiver Trade Deadline on Thursday largely due to their financial limitations.
But for Terry Francona, those conditions were a big reason why he chose to bring his managerial talents to the city where his father, Tito, once played.
"You're working under different parameters, but when the game starts you're not hamstrung," Francona said. "If we have to play better or develop younger players, I made that decision because I wanted to be here. I would rather embrace that than worry about what we don't have."
The Cleveland skipper noted that the front office plans to carry the mantra of player development into Thursday's Deadline, as well.
"That's one of the things that's maybe a misperception in our game, is you have to get a veteran guy," Francona said. "One of the things when I came here that was very appealing was the idea of helping younger players get better and compete. That's something we don't want to run away from."
Masterson set to return from DL day after Deadline
CLEVELAND -- Justin Masterson is scheduled to be activated from the disabled list in order to make his next start for the Indians on Friday. As it happens, that outing falls one day after Thursday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline.
As the Deadline nears, Masterson -- eligible for free agency this coming offseason -- has had his name continue to come up in various rumors and reports. Asked about that fact on Tuesday afternoon, the pitcher let out a laugh.
"It's just default," Masterson said. "Anyone who's going to be a free agent, I imagine their name is thrown in there somehow, some way. That's kind of the way it always is, so ... it kind of takes away to think about it too much. They only talk about you because they have to. It'd be wrong if they didn't."
Masterson, who is making roughly $9.8 million this season, has gone 4-6 with a 5.51 ERA in 19 starts this season, and he is currently on the 15-day disabled list with a right knee issue. That has not stopped opposing clubs from inquiring about the availability of the right-hander, who won 14 games, logged 193 innings and made an All-Star team in 2013.
Prior to landing on the DL, the 29-year-old Masterson allowed 13 runs on 20 hits with 10 walks in nine innings combined across his past three starts (the last coming on July 7). In his most recent Minor League rehab start for Triple-A Columbus on Friday, Masterson gave up five runs, walked six and logged 108 pitches in 6 2/3 innings.
Masterson did not feel he needed another rehab outing, and Cleveland manager Terry Francona noted that the team felt starting him on Friday against the Rangers presented a better matchup than against the lefty-heavy Mariners on Thursday.
"In my mind, I didn't really think [I needed another rehab start]," Masterson said. "I felt like what we've got, what we're going to do, it's not necessarily going to change in the next one. So, let's make or break it up here in The Show. I'll come help out the boys."
Masterson added that he does not feel the Indians need to necessarily make any additions prior to Thursday's Trade Deadline.
"We like what we have," Masterson said. "If I can come back and be three-quarters of what I was last year, or a lot better than where we were before, that can almost be like a free agent coming in, because I wasn't helping out much before, and I have a chance to help out now."
Santana credits playing first base for hot hitting
CLEVELAND -- Not often do players discuss the correlations between offensive success and defensive stability, but for Carlos Santana the result has been overwhelmingly positive.
Santana's scorching performance at the plate over the past several games -- one that garnered him American League Player of the Week honors -- has been a welcome one for the Indians, who sorely missed his power presence in the cleanup spot during his early-season slump. While the obvious explanation for the resurgence would simply be a talented hitter returning to form, the 28-year-old's recent offensive uptick was also influenced by his opportunity to settle down in the field at first base.
"The first two months, I played different positions," Santana said. "It bothered me a little bit. Right now, I'm playing only one position. But, I'm open. I'm open with the manager. Whatever position he puts me, I'll play, but I feel more comfortable when I play only one position."
Dating back to June 6, Santana has slashed .311/.421/.622 with 14 home runs and 33 RBIs, including last week's 15-hit, six-homer outburst. That production has largely coincided with "El Oso" taking over as the team's primary first baseman last month after splitting his time at third base to begin the season.
Santana is batting .338 and has hit 15 of his 20 home runs when playing first base this season (43 games). Conversely, he has hit at a .129 clip in 26 games at the hot corner while going 3-for-34 in 11 games at the backstop. Santana's last time starting at a position other than first was May 25, when he filled in at catcher and caught a foul ball to the facemask that landed him on the seven-day concussion disabled list.
"Carlos is swinging the bat so well we could put him in center field right now and he's going to swing the bat," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He's a pretty good hitter, he just went through a tough beginning of the year. The one thing I think was frustrating for Carlos earlier in the year, and I understand this, it seemed like every time he caught he'd get hit by a foul ball.
"He was catching sparingly and getting beat up to boot. And I don't think that helps, especially when you're not getting hits."
Quote to note
"We're really not that different from last year. We started the second half off last year with a horrendous road trip, and everybody wrote us off and we bounced back. You've got to play the games. We get to .500, slip back, get to .500, slip back. At some point, we need to get to .500 and kick it into gear. That's harder to do than it is to say."
• Injured outfielder Michael Bourn still has no set timetable for a return from the 15-day disabled list. Bourn, who rode a stationary bike on Sunday, has been sidelined since July 5 with a left hamstring strain and is expected to increase his rehab workload over the coming week.
"I've kind of on purpose not gone in to push him," Francona said. "He's going to obviously add intensity as he continues to feel better. ... He will just continue to ramp up. And when he's ready to play, we'll send him out to play."
• Class A Advanced Carolina catcher Jeremy Lucas was named the Indians Minor League Player of the Week on Tuesday. The 23-year-old hit .407 and posted a 1.095 OPS over a six-game stretch, including a 4-for-5, four-RBI showing during Friday's game at Potomac.
• Indians assistant hitting coach Matt Quatraro also served as first-base coach on Tuesday night. Quatraro is expected to continue doing so while regular first-base coach Sandy Alomar spends the next several days away from the team due to personal reasons.
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.