Seven final thoughts thanks to Indians general manager Chris Antonetti, who talked before Saturday’s victory at Camden Yards.
1. Antonetti didn’t seem concerned about injuries to shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera (left knee, right big toe) and first baseman Nick Swisher (right knee). “Our whole team has been through a lot when you look at what we’ve gone through in the last week, the extra innings games back-to-back and travel. We’ve got some guys who are banged up,” Antonetti said. “In Swish and Cabby’s case, we don’t think either is long term. Hopefully the next day or two they’ll get back out there.” Manager Terry Francona said Swisher would likely play Sunday in Baltimore, but Cabrera may wait until Monday in Chicago against the White Sox.
2. Antonetti knows the Indians’ depth has been tested by the extra-inning games and struggles of the starting rotation. Already Danny Salazar has been sent to Triple-A, Carlos Carrasco placed in the bullpen, Josh Tomlin called up from Columbus and Zach McAllister (low back strain) placed on the 15-day disabled list.
3. Asked who was next in line for the rotation, he seemed inclined to stick with left-hander T.J. House, who made his major league starting debut in an 8-4 loss Friday. “I know the linescore (6 innings, 11 hits, 5 earned runs, 2 walks, 1 strikeout, 6.43) didn’t read great last night, but we thought T.J. pitched well and was able to get us six innings. A pitch here or there and the linescore could have looked a little different,” Antonetti said.
4. As for bringing back Salazar, Antonetti believes he needs time with the Clippers. “We could, that’s always an option. But our preference is to make sure we are working with Danny to help get him back to the pitcher we all know he’s capable of being,” Antonetti said. “That’s not something that happens overnight, you don’t just flip a switch. Hopefully Danny’s not that far off.”
5. Antonetti isn’t sure if the back problem was at the root of McAllister’s struggles in his past three starts, when he allowed 17 earned runs in 7.2 innings. “It’s hard to say. You can draw lines in a lot of different places,” Antonetti said. “The one thing we know is when Zach’s right, he’s capable of being a real effective major league pitcher.”
6. Is John Axford making strides to getting his job of closer back? On Saturday Axford pitched the eight and faced the heart of the Orioles’ order, allowing two hits and striking out one as the Orioles failed to score. He also pitched a scoreless inning on Thursday, striking out two and allowing one hit. “Hopefully he can build off his last outing,” Antonetti said of Thursday. “He threw well here a couple nights ago and hopefully that’s a step in the right direction. We’ve all seen John has the stuff to get major league hitters out, now he needs to make sure he throws enough strikes. He’ll do that by executing his delivery consistently.” Asked if mechanics were part of Axford’s issue, Antonetti said, “I think there’s a little bit of that to it.”
7. The Major League Baseball draft is June 5-7 and Antonetti said intensive meetings start next week. The Indians have five picks in the top 100, including 21st overall. “We feel there’s some quality depth to the draft, maybe not the same elite level of talent in the top five or six picks. For us where we pick that’s a good thing,” Antonetti said. “The fact that there may not be much of a talent difference from the guy who may go 10th, 11th or 12th versus the guy we’re picking at 21.” He said the Indians will stick with their philosophy of choosing the best available player, regardless of position.