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Smoke signals

• Francona is an advocate of calling a team meeting when he feels it can benefit his ballclub. Francona is not, however, a proponent of going overboard with yelling at his players during a slump. He said he has changed his style about when and how to hold a team meeting over the years.

"When I think they help," Francona said. "When I was young, probably immature, I'd have a team meeting and scream, and the only person it helped was me. You've relieved stress. I remember one time in Philadelphia, we were pretty bad and I had a team meeting. [Bench coach Brad Mills] came in after and I said, 'Millsy, what did I say?' He said, 'I have no idea. Neither does anybody else.' So that doesn't really help.

"I guess if you get to that point you probably waited too long. We met in Cincinnati briefly [in late May], and it was probably two minutes. Meetings can be overrated. Meetings can also be helpful. In my opinion, I try to do whatever I think is helpful for our team, and that's just how I've always been."

• Cleveland cycled through a variety of backup shortstops throughout last season when Asdrubal Cabrera was forced to miss time. With Cabrera currently on the 15-day disabled list with a right quad strain, Francona feels fortunate to have a sound defensive replacement in Mike Aviles, who was Boston's everyday shortstop last season.

"You can't flip a switch and get hits when you start playing," Francona said. "But he plays a Major League shortstop. That's a pretty big compliment. You lose a guy like Cabrera, and you've got a guy out there playing every day that you're comfortable playing every day."

• Francona noted that Indians All-Star closer Chris Perez is scheduled to throw off a mound on Tuesday in Cleveland. Perez, who resumed a throwing program earlier this week, has been on the 15-day disabled list with a right shoulder injury since May 27. He has dealt with shoulder woes off and on since Spring Training.

• Throughout the Tribe's recent six-game losing streak, one of the problems has been playing from behind early in the game. Entering Sunday's tilt in Detroit, Cleveland had been outscored, 26-2, in the first three innings combined over the past six games, and the starting rotation had gone 0-6 with an 8.49 ERA in that stretch.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. Mark Emery is an associate reporter for
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