Francona being patient with top of lineup
CLEVELAND -- No one needs to tell Indians manager Terry Francona that the top of his lineup is struggling. Prior to Sunday's game against the Blue Jays, Francona admitted that the temptation to switch up the batting order definitely exists.
Francona just does not believe that now is the time to shuffle the lineup.
"Yeah, I think it's tempting," Francona said. "I don't not change it because I'm not paying attention. I just think that when you believe in guys that you've got to kind of be patient. I know sometimes maybe I am, to a fault. I don't want to be. I just think it's the best way to get the most out of our guys."
Heading into Sunday's game, leadoff man Michael Bourn was hitting .077 (in just three games due to a season-opening stay on the disabled list), Nick Swisher was batting .174 in the two-spot, Jason Kipnis had a .241 average as the third hitter, and Carlos Santana was sporting a .153 mark as the cleanup hitter.
The last thing Francona said he would do is re-order his lineup without first speaking to the individuals involved in the changes. That said, the Tribe manager expects each of the batters in question to return to their usual level of performance soon enough.
"If I was going to move somebody, I always tell them," Francona said. "But again, the top of our order that's struggling right now, they're going to hit. I know they're going to hit. They know they're going to hit. So you just need to be patient and hope that when they get hot, they're not just singles."
Francona has often referenced what happened at the start of last season with Kipnis. The All-Star second baseman had a .189 average through May 1, and the manager fielded questions about moving Kipnis lower in the lineup. Kipnis then hit .340 over the next 57 games and had a .301 batting average by the beginning of July.
"You build your batting order when Spring Training ends the best way you think possible," Francona said. "If you start flip-flopping, you're potentially putting guys that you thought you'd hit maybe down towards the bottom in bigger spots, and they're probably going to struggle a little bit. Guys that hit in the middle, they get pitched differently, and you think they can handle it. There's reasons you keep them there."