November 22, 2014

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Indians notes: Tribe responds to Latos accusations

CLEVELAND — The Indians and Reds both say there is no bad blood between the intrastate rivals, but the fire keeps getting stoked.
After taking a beating from Cleveland in a 10-9 loss Monday night, Cincinnati right-hander Mat Latos accused the Indians of stealing signs from catcher Ryan Hanigan.
The accusations came a week after Reds manager Dusty Baker and Indians pitcher Derek Lowe exchanged disparaging words during a sweep of the Indians in Cincinnati.
Latos, who was touched up for seven runs over just four innings after shutting down the Indians in his last start against them, claimed Cleveland hitters were taking bigger swings with runners on base.
The Indians say that is nonsense.
“Tell Latos you don’t have to steal signs when you’re tipping your pitches,” said one Cleveland player.
“Or when you throw every pitch down the middle,” said another.
Cleveland manager Manny Acta disputed the notion as well.
“I don’t think our kids are into that. We don’t teach that,” he said. “Hey, you’re going to get hit sometimes. We go through it sometimes here, too. When kids struggle, they seem to think that people are relaying signs. There’s nothing to it. There is a big, big bad perception about stealing signs and stuff like that.”
Baker did not support his pitcher’s case, either. Nor did Hanigan.
“I’m not going to accuse anybody of something that I’m not sure of,” Baker told reporters. “You don’t really have to steal signs when the ball is over the heart of the plate and up. It just wasn’t a quality night. (Latos) made a number of mistakes last night.”
“If they were getting signs, it’s not acceptable,” Hanigan said. “It’s something that’s preventable. I don’t think that was necessarily at all the reason why things didn’t go the way they needed to go last night.”
Acta said stealing signs was a tough task, and that it really provided no benefit.
“99.9 percent of players at the plate don’t want to know what’s coming,” he said. “You really don’t want to be taking the chance of leaning out over the plate for a 78-mph change-up and having a 95-mph fastball in your helmet. By the time you go and complain to the runner at second base, you might be in the paramedics.
“That’s great though, that people think our young kids are so bright and so smart that they can do all that. It gives us some advantage. Make sure you write about that, so the other clubs go crazy when we go into town and start changing signs and catchers get crossed up. We have some tough times just picking up (third base coach Steve Smith’s) signs, and those are our own signs.”
Damon diary
Johnny Damon was out of the lineup after arriving at the park sore from running into the railing Monday. He was chasing a double from Brandon Phillips that he committed a two-base error on, allowing Phillips to score.
“I think I hit everything,” Damon said. “I’m all bruised up on the side and all that stuff.”
Work in progress
Carlos Santana returned to the cleanup spot a day after being dropped to the sixth hole. Acta predicts better things from the catcher than the .232 batting average Santana produced through 55 games this season.
“Carlos has hit for average and on-base percentage and has been a run producer his whole life,” Acta said. “It takes some guys a little bit of time to adjust up here.
“A lot of people tend to forget that, despite the .230 batting average last year, Carlos Santana did something (25 homers, 35 doubles and 90 walks) that only three more guys did in the big leagues, and those three guys were Joey Votto, Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera. That’s pretty special. It’s scary to think how good he can be.”
Acta projects Santana to be a .280 to .300 hitter in the big leagues.
Minor detail
Strongsville native and Advanced Class A Carolina outfielder Anthony Gallas was named Cleveland’s minor league player of the week (June 10-17). Gallas, 24, hit .478 (11-for-23) with a double, three homers and seven RBIs.
An undrafted free-agent acquisition in 2010, Gallas entered Tuesday hitting .251 with six homers and 23 RBIs in 53 games for the Mudcats.
Roundin’ third
Third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall came a double shy of hitting for the cycle Monday night. He would have been the first Cleveland player to accomplish the feat since Grady Sizemore, Aug. 21, 2008, against Kansas City. Also, according to Elias Stats Bureau, Chisenhall was just the third No. 9 hitter over the five seasons to record a three-hit game that included a triple and homer.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and Follow him on Twitter.