By Sheldon Ocker
Beacon Journal sports writer
OAKLAND, Calif.: Two weeks remain to make a deal for players who have cleared waivers, but there has not even been a wisp of a rumor about players the Indians might covet.
But if the Tribe chooses to stand pat, that is both understandable and possibly the wisest move. Manager Terry Francona appears to be content to play the hand he has.
“I have no problem with where we are with our team,” he said Saturday. “We know what we have to do to win, we just have to do it. It’s kind of fun. When we play the game correctly, we win. If we don’t, we have problems.”
At this point in the season, it appears if General Manager Chris Antonetti was bent on acquiring a player, it probably would be a hitter, inasmuch as the offense has slowed to a crawl since Aug. 5, which marked the first of four consecutive losses to the Detroit Tigers.
Did getting swept by its primary division rival kill the Tribe attack? Probably not. But in the past 12 games, the Indians have averaged only 3.3 runs, and that includes a game in which they scored nine against the Minnesota Twins.
Nick Swisher has been in a power slump for most of the season, but the most acute problem at the plate belongs to Asdrubal Cabrera, who was on an 0-for-20 skid going into Saturday night’s game against the Oakland Athletics.
He told a Spanish language media member in the Bay area that the 0-for-20 skid was “driving him crazy.”
If that was the case, rationality returned suddenly to Cabrera, who lined an RBI single to right in the first inning Saturday night.
Francona thinks that Cabrera has remained on an even keel, and his troubles at the plate go back much farther than 20 at-bats.
“He shows frustration once in awhile,” Francona said. “I talk to players going through tough times about just playing the game. Asdrubal does that pretty well. When I’m sitting in the dugout, I can’t tell if he goes 0-for-4 or 4-for-4.”
Thinking about that next at-bat and forgetting about not hitting safely in 20 previous at-bats is not the easiest thing to do.
Francona continues to insist that Cabrera has been hitting the ball with authority but has had nothing to show for his efforts.
The manager can point to Cabrera’s ninth-inning at-bat Friday night as an example. With one out, runners at first and second and the Tribe trailing by a run, Cabrera ripped a line drive directly at the third baseman, who turned it into a game-ending double play.
In those 20 hitless at-bats, Cabrera has lined out either to an infielder or an outfielder five times.
If the Tribe makes no deal for a player, what changes are expected when rosters can be expanded to 40 on Sept. 1? Of course, Francona won’t offer names of players who might be summoned from Triple-A Columbus, but if hitting is the focus, the pickings are slim.
“Chris is coming out here tomorrow, but not for that,” Francona said. “But we’ll talk about that.”
Left-hander Nick Hagadone likely will return to help in the bullpen, and Josh Tomlin might be ready to pitch after undergoing elbow reconstruction surgery last year.
“Josh is only up to four innings [on his rehab assignment], but we only have two weeks left until September,’’ Francona said, assessing Tomlin’s chances of coming back before the end of August. “After Tommy John surgery, we don’t want him warming up in the middle of an inning, but if we needed a spot starter, he would be in line to do that.”
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.