“We have nothing to fear…”
Well, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Indians manager Manny Acta fears the bat of Miggy Cab anyway. I mean, just ask him…
“They’re not afraid of him,” Acta said, referring to his pitchers. “I am.”
During the recent three-game series with the Tigers, Acta had his pitchers intentionally walk Cabrera three times — twice in first innings. Cabrera also drew another four-pitch walk and was hit by a pitch in the series. It was obvious that Cleveland — well, Acta — preferred to put Cabrera on base than to let him swing the bat.
And, hey, Acta has his reasons.
As a manager for the Nationals and Indians, Acta has encountered Cabrera in three seasons — 2007, 2010 & 2011. In those campaigns, Cabrera has drawn a combined 62 intentional walks. Of those, 13 have come with Acta in the opposing dugout. Granted, Acta saw more of Miggy as a division rival, but that still accounts for 21 percent of his IBBs in those three seasons.
When Cabrera has not been given first base without charge, the slugger has made Acta’s teams pay without mercy. Over 122 at-bats against Acta’s clubs, all Cabrera has done his hit at a .361 clip with 10 home runs and 31 RBIs. This past weekend, he went 5-for-11 in the ABs he was allowed to have for Detroit.
“Miggy has earned that from me,” Acta said of the intentional walks. “He did it to me for years in the National League East when I was there. To me, hands down, he’s our most scary hitter in the American League.”
On Friday, when the Indians pulled off a 9-5 victory over the Tigers, Cabrera went 2-for-5 with a home run and two RBIs. On Saturday, Indians rookie Alex White intentionally walked Cabrera in the first and fifth innings. Both times, there were two outs with a runner on second and first base wide open.
Both times, White retired the next batter, Brennan Boesch, to escape unscathed.
“We’ve taken the approach that we’re not going to let him beat us, even in the first inning,” White explained. “We feel comfortable pitching around him and going after the guys behind him. He’s such a great hitter, there’s no reason to chance anything with a man on second and a base open.
“From the get-go, I understood that we weren’t going to allow him to be the guy that drives in four or five runs against us. That’s what we did. We had to put him on twice. The one time I did pitch to him, I made a mistake and he hit it a long way.”
That mistake wound up as a leadoff homer for Cabrera in the fourth inning.
On Sunday, Cabrera was intentionally walked in the first inning with a man on second base and one out in the books. Justin Masterson then retired the next two batters to make the strategy pay off once again. In the top of the ninth, Indians closer Chris Perez was allowed to face Cabrera with two outs and two runners aboard.
“I’m glad Manny didn’t put his four fingers up,” Perez said. “I probably would’ve shook him off. That’s why I want to play. That’s why I’m out there – to get their best hitter out with the game on the line and two outs.”
Cabrera yanked a pitch into left field for an RBI single. Oh well. The Indians still pulled out a 5-4 victory.
Some off-day notes…
- Indians DH Travis Hafner is expected to have his right foot re-evaluated on Monday’s off-day in Cleveland. With the Tribe heading out to the West coast Monday night, the team needs to decide whether Hafner should be placed on the DL. If he is, I’d be willing to wager that you’d see that other Travis, Buck, return from Triple-A to help hold down the fort until Pronk returned to 100 percent.
- Indians RHP Carlos Carrasco (on the DL with an elbow issue) was slated to throw a bullpen session on Monday. Mitch Talbot (ditto) is down to travel with the team out west. His next bullpen is scheduled for Tuesday. If all goes well, he could be at extended spring for a rehab outing on Friday.
- The Indians have quite the logjam at Triple-A when it comes to infielders. There’s Jason Kipnis at second base, Jason Donald at shortstop and Lonnie Chisenhall at third. But what about Cord Phelps, Luis Valbuena and recently-returned Rule-5er Josh Rodriguez. It says here that Valbuena and J-Rod will see some time in LF and at DH to help spread the playing time. Kipnis and Chisenhall will stay at their positions for the bulk of the time. Phelps and Donald will split up the duties at short. Buck and Chad Huffman are helping out at first base. Wed Hodges and Jordan Brown? Their PT is limited right now and they look like the odd men out.
- Some Minor League injury updates: SS Tony Wolters (right hand surgery in March) is back on the field and could be game ready by March 10. He’d start at extended to build innings before catching a ride to Class A Lake County.; RHP Jason Knapp is still building up at extended. Expect him to have a cap of around 100 innings this year. That being the case, the Tribe is managing the innings load on the front end of the season. He’ll likely be at Class A Kinston within a few weeks.; Jared Goedert (60-day DL with oblique strain) is playing in extended spring and will likely be headed to Double-A Akron when the time comes to begin his official rehab stint.; LHP Drew Pomeranz is fine after a bout with a tight hamstring.; RHP Bryce Stowell hasn’t pitched yet this year due to some personal matters. Expect him to work his way out of extended spring in the near future.
UPDATE — 5:32 pm ET: The Indians completed a Minor League trade today, sending Brown to the Brewers in exchange for cash considerations. Brown will be assigned to Milwaukee’s Triple-A affiliate in Nashville. His departure clears room on the Columbus roster for Rodriguez’s return. The Pirates returned the Rule 5 pick to the Indians for a cost of $25,000. Pittsburgh initially paid $50,000 to select him in the Rule 5 Draft in December.
For your reading pleasure…
AC weighs in with an off-day feature: Believers or not, Tribe shattering expectations
I weigh in with the latest Indians Inbox: White on borrowed time with Tribe?
Catch you from Oakland.