CLEVELAND — After listening to Indians manager Eric Wedge blast his hitters following his team’s fourth straight loss on Tuesday, it was probable that heads were going to roll.
Josh Barfield’s was the first on the swivel.
For the second game of a significant series against Detroit on Wednesday, Wedge benched the struggling second baseman, who is batting just .243 with three home runs and 49 RBIs in his debut season in Cleveland — .185 with 11 RBIs in 30 games since the All-Star break.
Asdrubal Cabrera replaced Barfield in the lineup and Wedge gave no indication that it would be a temporary move.
“We left (Barfield) alone in the first half to see him and get a feel for him,” Wedge said. “Right now, it’s about him having the discipline to stay with his approach and his gameplan. That’s what we’re not seeing right now.”
Barfield, who has just one RBI in his last 16 games, agreed with his manager’s assessment.
“I’m inconsistent,” he said. “Mechanically, I’m kind of getting out of my approach. I’m getting out of the things I’ve done before. I’m getting good pitches to hit. I’m just missing them.
“It’s frustrating, because you know you’re better than that and you’ve proven it before.”
The Indians acquired the
24-year-old Barfield in an offseason trade with the Padres for Kevin Kouzmanoff after Barfield hit .280 with 13 homers and 58 RBIs during his rookie year in San Diego.
“It is new but this is the second half now,” Barfield said of playing in the American League for the first time. “You can’t use, ‘you’ve never seen them’ as an excuse.”’
Wedge apparently grew tired of making excuses for his ailing offense Tuesday night, questioning his team’s toughness and saying that some players were feeling sorry for themselves. He didn’t back off the comments Wednesday prior to the game and wasn’t concerned with how his players viewed them.
“I’m fine with (them being upset),” Wedge said. “I don’t care what they do. I just want them to get going. I see some things I’m not particularly happy with, and I feel as strongly about them today as I did (Tuesday).”
“We’re all players in here and we know what’s going on,” said Cleveland’s ace C.C. Sabathia. “I don’t see that. (Wedge) is sitting in a different chair in the dugout. He probably sees it like that.”
Wedge said he expected his team to begin playing better but offered no guarantees.
“We’re going to find out right now. We’re in the trenches now,” he said. “This is the time you find out about your ballclub and the individuals on your ballclub in that order.”
Hafner has been given orders, regarding his style of play while recovering from a strained left hamstring.
“Stand-up doubles, not triples,” joked Cleveland’s designated hitter, who returned to the lineup Tuesday after a four-game absence. “I feel like I can be productive at the plate. Everybody knows I’m kind of limited running, so we know what we’re working with.”
Hafner is not 100 percent, but with the Indians’ offense struggling, the team needs whatever it can get from its top run producer the past three seasons.
“We wouldn’t put him in there if we felt he was in danger,” Wedge said. “I said, ‘The alternative is you don’t play. You choose.’”
Hafner said he should be back to full strength by next week. He has never missed time with leg injuries before.
“I don’t run fast enough to have a problem,” he said.
Cliff Lee allowed four runs on four hits and five walks Wednesday, striking out seven in five innings for Triple-A Buffalo against Rochester. Lee is the prime candidate to start for the Indians the next time they need a fifth starter on Aug. 25 at Kansas City.
• Oft-injured first baseman Michael Aubrey is back on the disabled list for Double-A Akron with a left abdominal strain. Aubrey, Cleveland’s top pick in the 2003 draft, has made trips to the injured list in each of his four professional seasons.
The Indians beat Wednesday’s midnight deadline to sign selections from the June draft, agreeing to terms with their second-highest pick, left-handed pitcher T.J. McFarland (fourth round).
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 653-0899 or firstname.lastname@example.org.