September 2, 2014

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Tribe notes: Ryan Raburn named AL Player of the Week

CLEVELAND — In what had to be one of the easiest votes since the inception of the award, Indians utility man Ryan Raburn was chosen American League Player of the Week (week ending May 5).

Over the span, Raburn, who has gotten increased opportunities with an injury to center fielder Michael Bourn, hit .591 (13-for-22) with four home runs and nine RBIs. He led the AL in batting average, slugging percentage (1.182) and total bases (26) and was tied for the league lead with a .591 on-base percentage.

“It’s pretty cool, a guy that’s a role player comes in and makes that kind of an impact,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “I think all week we knew what he was doing, but now nationally, people read about it and that’s kind of a cool thing for him.”

Raburn took the hotness to a new level when he became just the fourth player in Major League history to collect at least 11 hits and four homers in a three-game span.

“The biggest thing was that I was getting so many hits this early in the year,” joked Raburn, who entered this season with a career .256 batting average over six seasons (all with Detroit). “I’m not typically used to that. It’s great. I’ve been working real hard. Hopefully the luck keeps going my way.”

Luck was not on Raburn’s side in his final year with the Tigers last season. He began the year as Detroit’s starting second baseman but struggled and was demoted to the minors, finishing with a .171 big-league batting average in 66 games.

“Last year was a tough year,” said Raburn, who was released by Detroit and signed a free-agent contract with Cleveland this offseason. “Personally, for myself, I knew I could still play. It was kind of a challenge for myself to come out and prove that I could still play.”

It’s been a challenge for Raburn, 31, much of his career, which has been spent mostly as a bench player.

“You can’t just look at tools and things like that, and that’s probably why you see veterans handling (the utility role) more than young players,” Francona said. “You have to have the ability to know that there are games you’re going to come up empty and your batting average maybe isn’t going to show what you wanted to, and you still have to convince yourself you’re a good hitter. It can drive you crazy.

“That’s just kind of the role I’ve become accustomed to,” Raburn said. “It’s not an easy job but it’s what keeps me on the field and keeps me in the game.”

Wounded Wahoos

Michael Bourn (right index finger laceration) was scheduled to begin a minor-league rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus on Monday but the Clippers were rained out. Bourn is expected to play three games for Columbus before leaving the DL, where he has been since April 15.

(bullet) According to Francona, right-hander Brett Myers (right elbow soreness) will throw his first bullpen session while the team is in Detroit (Friday through Sunday). He will join the Indians in Philadelphia to throw again next Tuesday or Wednesday.

Mega Mark

Early returns show the Indians getting a bargain on the $6 million contract they signed Mark Reynolds to in the offseason. Reynolds, a lifetime .235 hitter in six seasons, entered Monday batting .296 with nine homers (tied for AL lead) and 26 RBIs in 27 games.

“I think we were pretty excited about what we were getting, and the batting average isn’t the most important statistic,” Francona said. “We’re looking for run production, and that’s what he’s given us a ton of. The quality of his at-bats have been tremendous from Day 1.

“The more good swings he takes, he’s going to do some damage and that’s all he’s done from the get-go is take a bunch of good swings. The hope is that the first month turns into a really good year.”

Minor details

Prized shortstop prospect Francisco Lindor was named Carolina League hitter of the week (April 29-May 5), batting .500 (13-for-26) with a homer and four RBIs in seven games for High A Carolina.

(bullet) RHP Danny Salazar was named Eastern League pitcher of the week, tossing six shutout innings and striking out 12 in one start.

Roundin’ third

The Indians went 2-8 against the Athletics last year, losing all four games at Progressive Field.

Tonight, 7:05, STO/WTAM 1100-AM/WMMS 100.7-FM. McAllister (2-3, 3.30) vs. Milone (3-3, 3.69).

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.