08/07/11 7:47 PM ET
Fukudome finding comfort level with Tribe
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
Cleveland acquired Fukudome in a trade with the Cubs on July 28, with the hope that he could provide a young offense with some experienced, professional at-bats out of the lineup's sixth spot. Over the past week, Fukudome has done just that for the Tribe.
"I think that I'm starting to get used to my teammates and the team," Fukudome said through interpreter Hiro Aoyama. "I'm starting to think about what I can do to contribute to the team."
During the ninth inning of Saturday's 7-5 win over the Rangers, Fukudome delivered a leadoff double that set the stage for a four-run rally. That comeback erased a 4-3 deficit and helped Cleveland pick up a much-needed victory.
Entering Sunday's finale in Texas, Fukudome was hitting .345 (10-for-29) with three doubles, three runs scored, two RBIs and an .815 OPS over his past seven games for the Indians. That showing came after an 0-for-7 introduction to the American League.
Indians manager Manny Acta said comfort has been the key.
"It's just a matter of him getting more at-bats here," Acta said, "and getting more comfortable around his surroundings, his teammates, the league and all that. He's swung the bat a lot better the last [few] games. Every bit of offense is welcome."
LaPorta gets another day to rest ankle
ARLINGTON -- Matt LaPorta's name was missing from the Indians' lineup on Sunday, marking the second game in a row that the first baseman was omitted.
Indians manager Manny Acta indicated that LaPorta was suffering from a sore left foot after being hit by a pitch from Rangers lefty Derek Holland in the first inning on Friday night. With a scheduled team off-day on Monday, Acta felt it made sense to give LaPorta an extra day of rest to recover.
"He got hit on the foot two days ago," Acta said. "His ankle was swollen [Saturday] and he couldn't even take batting practice. He feels better and he's available today, but we decided to give him one more day off just to put it together with tomorrow's day off and have it heal completely."
LaPorta, who is hitting .241 with 10 homers and 40 RBIs through 81 games this season, was replaced at first base by utility man Shelley Duncan. LaPorta said he felt well enough to play, if needed, and the first baseman hopes to be ready to go in time for Tuesday's home game against Detroit.
"It's just sore and everything," LaPorta said. "But it's part of the game. What can you do? I ran on it [Saturday] night, just warming up and getting ready to go. It's not necessarily that I can't go in there and play. I think it's just more of a precaution."
Duncan making a case to stay
ARLINGTON -- Shelley Duncan is doing all he can to present the Indians with a tough decision.
On Tuesday, when third baseman Jack Hannahan is activated from Major League Baseball's paternity leave list, Cleveland will need to remove a player from its roster. Duncan -- called up from Triple-A on Friday after Hannahan left the team -- might be the odd-man out.
Then again, Duncan might be making a case to stick around.
"There's a chance of everything," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "But Hannahan is coming back on Tuesday."
In the first two games of the current three-game set in Texas, Duncan went 3-for-6 at the plate with one home run, one double, two RBIs and a pair of walks. Cleveland, which has been starved for offense much of this season, scored seven runs in each of those games against the Rangers.
Duncan, who has a Minor League option, has hit .255 with four homers and 22 RBIs in 38 games for the Tribe. Among Cleveland's outfielders, rookie Ezequiel Carrera (.244 in 26 games) is another player with options. Duncan and Carrera can be sent down without consequence.
Veteran Austin Kearns, who has hit .200 with two homers and seven RBIs in 55 games, is in the fold on a guaranteed, $1.3 million contract and does not have options. Kearns would have to be designated for assignment and exposed to waivers before potentially being sent to the Minors.
"He has given us a lift," Acta said of Duncan. "That's the reason why we made the decision to bring him up, to have his bat against those two lefties [Texas southpaws Derek Holland and C.J. Wilson], because he does a good job against left-handed pitching. He's done a good job."
Kipnis' power not a surprise to Tribe
ARLINGTON -- Indians manager Manny Acta is not surprised by the recent power surge from rookie second baseman Jason Kipnis. Home runs were expected to be part of the young infielder's game.
"That's been the report," Acta said on Sunday. "Our Minor League people have always felt that he can hit for power. He's made quite an impression here in a week."
Entering Sunday, the 24-year-old Kipnis had launched five home runs in his past seven games. Within that streak, the second baseman's first four career shots came in consecutive contests.
In the ninth inning of Saturday's 7-5 win over the Rangers, Kipnis provided a two-run home run to cap off a four-run rally for the Tribe. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Kipnis is the first Indians player to have five homers in his first 13 career Major League games since Luis Medina accomplished the feat in 1988.
The last player on any team to belt five homers in his first 13 big league contests was Texas' Taylor Teagarden in 2008.
Since joining the Indians, Kipnis has hit .255 (12-for-47) with two doubles and eight RBIs to go along with his long balls. Prior to being summoned to the Majors, Kipnis hit .279 with 12 homers, 15 doubles, nine triples, 55 RBIs and 64 runs in 91 games at Triple-A Columbus.
Right fielder Shin-Soo Choo (on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured left wrist) met with Dr. Thomas Graham on Saturday in Cleveland. Choo had his hand re-evaluated with an X-ray and was given clearance to continue taking batting practice. Choo was slated to do so on Sunday with Class A Lake County, and he is scheduled to begin a Minor League rehab assignment with Lake County on Monday.
Since returning from the 15-day disabled list, following a bout with a strained right quadriceps, Indians righty Fausto Carmona has gone 1-1 with a 2.81 ERA over four starts. Along the way, he's limited hitters to a .232 average over 25 2/3 innings. "He's been more aggressive in the strike zone with his sinking fastball," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He has improved the amount of fastballs he's thrown. When he's got his back up against the wall now, he goes to his No. 1 pitch."
Entering Sunday, the Indians had scored seven runs in each of their previous three games. The 21 runs over that three-game span marked the most over a three-game stretch for the Tribe since May 31-June 2, when Cleveland collected 23 runs. The Indians' best three-game offensive stretch of the year came between May 13-17, when the club plated 31 combined runs.