CLEVELAND: Mercifully for Luis Valbuena, Asdrubal Cabrera returned to the lineup today after missing four games with a strained quad.
Valbuena had taken over for Cabrera at shortstop, made four errors in three games and looked totally uncomfortable at the position. The question is why? He played 28 games at short last year and looked like he belonged at the position, even though he was charged with five errors.
Instead of sending Valbuena back into the fray at second, his usual position, manager Manny Acta gave him a day to catch his breath, while Mark Grudzielanek took over at second. Valbuena might have struggled with a change of positions, because he has not been able to shake a season-long slump at the plate.
His .167 batting average is putting his roster spot in jeoparady, even though Tribe officials insist that no moves are imminent. Maybe not, but as the club approaches the 40-game mark -- when evaluations are frequently made -- Valbuena's continued employment in the big leagues becomes more tenuous.
He is not the only young middle infielder in the organization with credentials as a prospect. Jason Donald, acquired from Philadelphia in the Cliff Lee trade, has playing a solid second base at Columbus. In 29 games -- 23 at second, six at short -- he has committed only one error and is batting .294.
He has 12 extra-base hits among his total (37.5 percent) and owns a .412 on-base percentage. Donald also has stolen seven bases in nine attempts.
What this adds up to is Valbuana being in a precarious position unless his bat comes alive quickly.