July 30, 2014

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Indians notes: Expanded replay on tap today

Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett, left, tags out Cleveland Indians' Jeff Francoeur, who was trying to steal second. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett, left, tags out Cleveland Indians’ Jeff Francoeur, who was trying to steal second. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — The Indians will get their first taste of Major League Baseball’s expanded instant replay today when the Angels visit Goodyear Ballpark.

It is the first of five exhibition games — Friday at White Sox in Glendale, Sunday at Cubs in Mesa (split-squad), March 17 at Reds in Goodyear and March 24 at Reds in Goodyear — that replay will be available to Cleveland and its opponent.

MLB is using the exhibition season as a trial run for the expansion and its new team challenge rules.

Rockin’ Raburn

Right fielder Ryan Raburn is expected to return to the lineup today. He sustained minor injuries when he crashed face-first into the wall Friday against the Cubs in Mesa.

“He’s doing well,” manager Terry Francona said. “I think he’ll probably play (today). We’ll kind of reserve the right to change that, but I think he’ll probably play (today).”

Raburn is scheduled to leave the team sometime this week for the birth of his child.

Getting noticed

Defensive-minded infielder Elliot Johnson, who is a candidate to win a roster spot off the bench, is batting .375 (6-for-16) with two triples, a home run and a team-leading five RBIs in six games.

“I don’t know that if Elliot was 0-for-10, we would view him any differently than if he was 3-for-10 or 4-for-10,” Francona said. “When you really think about it, what he’s done in his career, what he’s capable of doing and how he can benefit our team is what really makes sense. It’s just guys tend to catch other people’s eyes when they get hits. That’s kind of the way it is.”

Cabby’s ride

Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera had a nice day at the plate in Cleveland’s 4-2 win over the Brewers on Sunday at Goodyear Ballpark. Entering the day batting only .200, Cabrera went 2-for-2 with a double, a run and a walk to raise his exhibition average to .294 (5-for-17).

In an effort to get Cabrera more at-bats, Francona hit him leadoff.

“I wanted to give him a chance to get on a little bit of a roll,” Francona said.

Last year was expected to be a bounce-back season for Cabrera, a two-time All-Star who came to training camp in great shape, but wound up batting a career-low .242 in 136 games.

Old friends

Right-hander Josh Tomlin got the better of former teammate Mark Reynolds in the fourth inning.

Reynolds, who is in camp with the Brewers on a minor-league contract, hit a towering foul ball onto the left-field concourse area, but Tomlin wound up striking him out to get out of a jam.

“It was good to get a strikeout, not just because it was him, just because I needed an out right there,” Tomlin said. “But, yeah, he hit that one pretty far foul.”

Reynolds’ debut season in Cleveland last year was a bust. It began well, but he struggled offensively and was ultimately released after signing a one-year deal worth $6 million.

Roundin’ third

  • Since opening the exhibition season with a loss to the Reds, the Indians haven’t tasted defeat in 10 consecutive games.
  • Michael Brantley leads the Indians with a .615 batting average (8-for-13) this spring. Raburn is the only Cleveland player with more than one homer (two). Right-hander Carlos Carrasco is the only pitcher with more than one win (two).
  • Today, 4:05 vs. Angels at Goodyear Ballpark. Salazar (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Weaver (1-1, 1.29).

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