November 28, 2014

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Indians notes: Terry Francona not sure buying is best idea at trading deadline

Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

CLEVELAND — Manager Terry Francona isn’t begging general manager Chris Antonetti for reinforcements as Thursday’s trading deadline approaches.

“What we need to be geared for is to play good baseball, and if something happens, something happens,” said Francona, whose third-place team trails the first-place Tigers by 6½ games in the Central Division and are five games out for the final American League wild-card spot. “We’re pretty consistent with how we feel about things here.

“Even if you want to be a buyer, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be, because there’s some parameters in place, not just for now but for the future. We’re not going to mortgage some of what we think is our future for a couple months of rental when the rental in essence might not be better than some of the younger guys.”

San Francisco is reportedly interested in Cleveland shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. Right-hander Justin Masterson could also be on the trade market. Both are in the final years of their contract.

“I think there’s a lot misrepresented when it comes to trading deadline stuff,” Francona said. “There’s so much misinformation. The real stuff can’t be out there because the general managers are building it. So people start taking guesses and other people start taking guesses off that and it gets a little crazy.”

Francona has seen both sides of the trading deadline approach. During his tenure as manager in Boston, the Red Sox, with one of the majors’ highest payrolls, had few limitations. That’s not case with the cost-conscious Indians.

“I guess I don’t choose to view it like that,” he said. “You’re working under maybe different parameters, but when the game starts, you’re not hamstrung. If we have to play better or we have to develop younger players — I made that decision because I wanted to be here — I would rather embrace that than worry about what we don’t have, potentially.”

The Indians have hovered around .500 for much of the season, and are 52-54 with five wins in 12 games since the All-Star break.

“It’s really not that different from last year,” Francona said. “We started the second half last year with a horrendous road trip and everybody kind of wrote us off. Every year’s different. You’ve got to play the games. At some point we need to get to .500 and kick it in gear. That’s easier to say than it is to do.”

Hot streak

Carlos Santana told reporters he felt his consistent playing time at one position (first base) has helped him offensively.

“If somebody feels that way, it can (help),” Francona said of Santana, who entered Tuesday batting .232 with a team-leading 20 home runs and 50 RBIs in 95 games. “But Carlos is swinging the bat so well, we could be playing him in center field right now. He’s a pretty good hitter. He just went through a tough beginning of the year.”

Santana, who was named AL Player of the Week on Monday, is coming off a torrid four-game series in Kansas City in which he went 9-for-14 with five home runs and eight RBIs. The five homers in a series tied the franchise record held by Hal Trosky (1934), Joe Carter (1989), Albert Belle (1995), Matt Williams (1997) and Travis Hafner (2004).

It also set a Kauffman Stadium record for most homers at the ballpark during a series.

Santana entered Tuesday leading the AL with six homers and 13 RBIs since the All-Star break.

Wounded Wahoos

Francona said the Indians could have activated Masterson (right knee inflammation) to start Thursday’s series finale with Seattle, but felt Friday’s series opener against the Rangers, who don’t employ the wealth of left-handed hitters the Mariners do, provided a better matchup for the pitcher.

Left-handed hitters are batting .330 off Masterson, while right-handed hitters are batting just .214.

Francona offered little on the progress of center fielder Michael Bourn, who has been sidelined since July 6 with a left hamstring strain.

“He’s going to obviously add intensity as he continues to feel better,” Francona said. “He and the trainers are working so hard and so diligently. He’ll continue to ramp up, and when he’s ready to play, we’ll send him out there to play.”

Minor details

  • Cleveland’s top prospect, shortstop Francisco Lindor, entered Tuesday batting .370 (10-for-27) with two homers, four RBIs and seven runs in seven games since his promotion to Triple-A Columbus.
  • Infielder Erik Gonzalez, who was promoted to take Lindor’s place at Double-A Akron, was batting .409 (20-for-49) with a homer, five RBIs and 12 runs in 11 games for the RubberDucks through Monday.

Roundin’ third

  • Entering the series opener Tuesday, the Indians had not lost to the Mariners at home since Sept. 19, 2011 — a string of six straight games.
  • Cleveland entered Tuesday with the sixth-most runs in the majors (470) — fifth-most in the AL.
  • First base coach Sandy Alomar will be away from the team for an undisclosed period of time for personal reasons. He was replaced Tuesday by assistant hitting coach Matt Quatraro.

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

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