GOODYEAR, Ariz.: It all started with Jason Kipnis telling a reporter that he prefers to bat in the second spot in the Indians’ lineup.
Kipnis has no plans to make his desire known to manager Manny Acta or go into the tank if he doesn’t end up hitting behind the leadoff batter. Just that second is where he enjoys hitting the most.
Acta was asked about that possibility and shot it down immediately.
“We like the kid, but we don’t want to put too much pressure on him, when there are healthy guys who can bat ahead of him,” Acta said. “He can bat second or lower, depending on who else we have.
“Everyone has to adjust to the people we have. [Shin-Soo] Choo, [Travis] Hafner and other guys who’ve been around longer are healthy, and they will hit in front of him.
“I understand guys like to hit second or play shortstop or center field, but life is what it is. I was crushed when they told me I had to move from short to second base. They didn’t tell me my arm wasn’t good enough, they just told me I had to move.”
Reporters have teased Acta about the makeup of his lineup for a week, and he has responded in kind, saying he would reveal one spot in the batting order per week. Last week it was Carlos Santana batting cleanup.
On Monday, however, Acta feigned exasperation with questions about Kipnis’ place in the lineup and yelled, “You guys know what the lineup is going to be, it doesn’t have to come from me.”
Then Acta announced the lineup:
1. Michael Brantley
2. Asdrubal Cabrera
6. Casey Kotchman
There’s no telling who the eighth and ninth batters will be, because the identities of the third baseman (either Lonnie Chisenhall or Jack Hannahan) and the left fielder (cast of thousands) is still up in the air.
Five months after undergoing reconstructive surgery on his right elbow, Carlos Carrasco has begun a throwing program, playing catch from 60 feet.
The usual sequence is to advance from 60 feet to 90 then 120. Eventually Carrasco will begin throwing bullpen sessions, but he probably will not be activated to play in the big leagues until September, at the earliest.
For the past couple of seasons, while the team has been rebuilt, leadership has been a secondary goal to finding quality players.
But with the Tribe expecting to compete for a berth in the postseason, the issue is relevant again.
“A lot of these young guys came up around the same time,” Acta said. “Because they’re young, they didn’t really want to step forward.
“Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore will lead by example, but they’re quiet guys who don’t get in people’s faces.”
Beginning last season, Acta encouraged Asdrubal Cabrera to take a more prominent role in the clubhouse.
“Asdrubal was here in 2007 [when the club made the playoffs], and he has taken a step forward. When he felt he needed to say something, he did.”
At 7:30 this morning players begin signing their names to 4,000 bats, balls and other items used by the Tribe when charities come calling for donations of memorabilia.
Moreover, the work has to be completed today.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Indians blog at https://ohio.com/tribematters. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.