September 21, 2014

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Indians Notes: Catcher Yan Gomes struggling with defense, leads team with 5 errors

Cleveland Indians catcher Yan Gomes catches a popup against the Detroit Tigers on April 16. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Cleveland Indians catcher Yan Gomes catches a popup against the Detroit Tigers on April 16. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

CLEVELAND — Indians catcher Yan Gomes has made a team-high five errors and ranks 18th in the American League in fielding percentage at the position.

Tribe manager Terry Francona isn’t worried about his young backstop just yet, however.

“I think Gomer is prepared for this and he’s pretty good, so the one thing we don’t want him to do is to stop throwing, especially this early in the season,” Francona said. “It’s not always the number of errors a guy is making. Sometimes there are extenuating circumstances that you have to look at, which is the case here.”

Gomes’ defensive woes continued Saturday as he permitted his third passed ball of the season in Cleveland’s 5-0 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Though Gomes’ .963 fielding percentage is ghastly for a catcher, it’s largely a byproduct of trying to gun down baserunners with his strong right arm.

The Brazilian continues to lead the AL in caught stealing percentage at .364, but he committed another costly error Friday in the Indians’ 3-2 loss to the Blue Jays.

First baseman Nick Swisher attempted to catch Toronto’s Munenori Kawasaki wandering off the bag in the seventh inning, but Gomes’ attempted pickoff throw skipped into right field. The Blue Jays scored the game-winning run two batters later.

“I wasn’t pleased with the outcome, but I loved what they did,” Francona said. “Swish and Gomer saw that the opportunity was there — and we had the guy out — but things just didn’t work out in this case.

“With Gomer, I think aggressiveness is good because he can shorten up guys’ secondary leads. As we saw last year, that certainly helps keep running to a minimum.”

The Tribe went 49-30 with Gomes behind the plate in 2013 — his first full year in the majors — and his .383 caught stealing percentage led the squad. He also hit an impressive .298.

With former starting catcher Carlos Santana now at third base because of Gomes’ emergence, there is no turning back — and that situation suits Francona fine.

“Gomer is pretty tough on himself, so he doesn’t need me talking to him about what’s going on,” he said. “He’s very active and has some of the quickest feet you’ll ever see. His throwing will come along as it warms up a little bit. I’m not concerned at all.”

Tribe tidbits

Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco (0-2, 7.94 ERA) takes on Blue Jays righty Brandon Morrow (1-1, 5.52 ERA) today at 1:05 p.m. It will be Carrasco’s third start of the season, but his first since April 11.

“Carlos is one of the funner guys to watch in the bullpen because he commands the ball so well,” Francona said. “I don’t think giving him a couple of extra days will matter at all.”

Carrasco hasn’t earned a win as a starter since June 29, 2011, spanning 15 outings, and continues to frustrate Tribe management with his inconsistency.

“He’s big, strong, he has a clean delivery, and he’s built to log innings,” Francona said. “We’ve just got to get him to points of the game when he’s confident in everything he does.”

Cleveland is 192-194-2 all-time against Toronto, but holds a 50-35 advantage at Progressive Field.

Center fielder Michael Bourn, who is 1-for-13 (.077) with five strikeouts on the season, was given the afternoon off.

Right-handed reliever C.C. Lee won a 10-pitch duel with Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista in the series opener Friday, retiring him on a groundout in the ninth.

“C.C. is going to be a big part of our future,” Francona said. “I wanted to give him a chance against Bautista because if he gets him out, he’s going to feel good about himself. Bautista had a real good at-bat and took so many good swings, but C.C. won the battle.”

Long time no see

Right-handed starter Shaun Marcum, right-handed reliever Matt Capps and catcher Matt Treanor remain at the Indians’ training facility in Arizona. All three veterans were assigned to minor league camp March 27.

Francona said ex-Brewers ace Marcum, in particular, is making good progress as he recovers from surgery to remove his first rib to alleviate shoulder pressure.

“Marcum worked three innings earlier in the week and is throwing on the side today,” Francona said. “But we have left everything up to him, depending on how he feels. We’ve never set a timeline for him because we felt it would be artificial.”

Minor details

Josh Tomlin allowed two runs on three hits in six innings Friday, but didn’t figure in the decision as Triple-A Columbus lost 5-3 to Toledo. The right-hander is 0-1 with a 4.00 ERA in three starts.

Designated hitter Jesus Aguilar, who went 1-for-4 against the Mud Hens, leads the Clippers with a .362 batting average, three homers and 10 RBIs.

Shortstop Francisco Lindor banged out three hits as Double-A Akron edged Bowie 7-6. The super prospect is hitting .263 with a .333 on-base percentage through 14 games.

Center fielder Clint Frazier had a run-scoring single for Single-A Lake County in an 8-2 loss to Burlington.

Extra innings

The Indians have the second-lowest average attendance in MLB at 17,002. The only other team below 20,000 is the Chicago White Sox at 16,960.

Tribe right-hander Justin Masterson is one of seven AL hurlers averaging 10.0 strikeouts per nine innings, fanning 24 in 21⅔.

Cleveland has used 15 pitchers and 13 position players. Designated hitter Jason Giambi will join the club when he is activated off the disabled list Monday.

Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com

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