April 17, 2014

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Tribe notes: HRs nice, but Tito prefers balance

CLEVELAND — “Chicks dig the long ball” is a popular baseball phrase, but Indians manager Terry Francona is more concerned with winning games any way possible.

“I think (people) are getting more carried away with the homers than we are,” said Francona, whose team entered Tuesday tied with Atlanta for the major league-lead with 44 home runs in 29 games. “What we care about is scoring runs and winning, however we do it. Some nights it might be a home run, some nights it could be a ball in the dirt and a guy moves up and then a base hit. That’s really what I care about.

“If guys take enough good swings, some of those balls are going to go out because they’re big and strong.”

Fans and some members of the media were enamored by Mark Reynolds’ 460-foot homer into the bleachers Monday night, which incidentally came 17 feet shy of cracking the Top 7 longest home run distances at Jacobs/Progressive Field. Francona hardly noticed.

“We get so caught up in the game,” he said. “If they started giving you extra credit for the length, than I would, but they don’t. As long as it goes over (the wall), I’m good.”

Francona is certainly not opposed to his team going deep. He just favors being a balanced offensive club.

“I think the idea is to cover every area, be able to run a little bit, be able to hit the ball out of the ballpark, and hopefully do it consistently,” he said. “That’s part of the fun of this game, though. You don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, but it’s fun seeing guys do things and maybe get a little confidence and get on a roll.”

And the veteran manager knows he needs quality pitching to reach the ultimate goal.

“That’s why we’ve won games,” Francona said. “When your pitching gives you a chance, every night you look like a crisp team, and you give yourself a chance to win.”

Wounded Wahoos

  • Michael Bourn (right index finger laceration) played seven innings in center during a rehab game for Triple-A Columbus on Tuesday, going 1-for-3 with two strikeouts, a walk and a stolen base. He is scheduled to play nine innings at designated hitter today. The original plan was to have Bourn play in three rehab games for the Clippers before rejoining the Indians, but it might be just two, with Columbus being rained out Monday and playing a 10:30 a.m. game Thursday.
  • Though an MRI performed Monday on reliever Vinnie Pestano came back negative, the Indians still placed the right-hander on the disabled list. The transaction is retroactive to last Wednesday, which means Pestano is eligible to leave the DL on May 16. “Now Vinnie only has to spend probably another week (on the DL) and then he’ll be good to go,” Francona said, “as opposed to throwing in a game when he’s 90 percent. That’s not the way he needs to go about it.”

Take a break

Third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall was out of the lineup for the second straight night, as he and hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo tinker with his swing. Chisenhall is batting .231 with three homers and 11 RBIs in 21 games — .200 (5-for-25) with two RBIs over his last seven games.

“Fastballs are what he’s going to make his living on,” Francona said. “You see him foul them down the left-field line, as opposed to getting the head of the bat to it. Without the game hanging over you mentally, I think you’re able to work on things.”

Minor details

  • Outfielder Ezequiel Carrera cleared waivers and was assigned to Triple-A Columbus.
  • Prized pitching prospect Trevor Bauer didn’t allow a hit, but he did surrender two runs on four walks and four hit batters Tuesday in Columbus’ 4-2 loss to Charlotte in the first game of a seven-inning doubleheader. The right-hander, who is 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA in two starts for Cleveland this year, is expected to be back for another spot start Monday in one of the games of a doubleheader against the Yankees at Progressive Field.

Roundin’ third

  • Left fielder Michael Brantley got the night off and was replaced by utility man Mike Aviles. Brantley has hit safely in 12 of his last 14 games, batting .328 with a homer and eight RBIs over the span.
  • Ohio University football coach Frank Solich and basketball coach Jim Christian threw out ceremonial first pitches.

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