CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Manny Acta said he is enjoying his time with the Indians even though the team is 23-36 and playing without outfielder Grady Sizemore and infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, who are on the disabled list.
Acta went so far as to say it's the happiest he's felt during his professional career. Acta indicated that the Indians are in a more advanced stage in terms of the Minor League system than when he started managing the Nationals in 2007.
"Life is not easier without Grady and Cabrera, but I think I learned from those experiences over in Washington in 2008 when we had all those guys down," Acta said. "But I'm enjoying it. I'm very happy for what's going on [with the Nationals] because those fans deserve it. I'm happy for [manager] Jim [Riggleman] because he is a good guy that I admire."
Acta managed the Nationals for 2 1/2 years, going 158-252 during that period. If he has one regret in Washington, it's that he used Saul Rivera and Jon Rauch too often.
"That really doesn't work," Acta said. "I was trying to keep the game close. Saul and Rauch had innings they shouldn't have had even though I was trying to catch up [in the game]. I learned that in Cleveland. It's a mistake I will never do again."
Acta also realized that he can't win without pitching and defense, which was a problem when Acta was managing the Nationals.
"I was the same guy that I was in 2007 except that I had [Chad] Cordero and Rauch [in 2007]," Acta said. "It was a big difference last year not being able to have those guys at the back end of the bullpen. It was tough for us. We had five guys closing games. You need pitching and defense to win and the Nationals are doing the right things right now."
Guzman out of Friday's lineup vs. Tribe
CLEVELAND -- Nationals second baseman Cristian Guzman was not in Friday's starting lineup because of a sore right hand. The injury is not considered serious.
Guzman hurt the hand swinging the bat against the Pirates on Thursday. Guzman is hoping to be back in the lineup by Saturday. He didn't rule out missing a couple of games.
"It's not a big deal," Guzman said.
Entering Friday's game, Guzman has been one of Washington's best hitters and is now the everyday second baseman.
Thus far, Guzman has called this season his happiest in a Nationals uniform. He said the camaraderie in the clubhouse has been special.
"I'm enjoying it more than last year because we are winning more games," Guzman said. "We can do better. I'm enjoying it. You love to come in early."
Capps' sore knee not serious
CLEVELAND -- Nationals closer Matt Capps didn't play in Thursday's game against the Pirates because he pitched in eight of the previous 11 games and has a sore left knee, which he has suffered the last 2 1/2 weeks. The injury is not considered serious. In fact, Capps was available to play against the Indians on Friday.
"It's not anything major," Capps said. "It's maybe patella tendinitis or something like that. But I'm fine. I don't see any problems down the road."
Capps said the knee problems had nothing to do with the slump he was in a week ago. He blamed his slump on something else.
"The reason I was in a slump was because the ball was up in the zone. I was getting hit," Capps said.
However, Capps has saved the last two games he appeared in and leads the Major Leagues in that department with 20.
Kearns doing well for Indians
CLEVELAND - After signing a three-year, $17.5 million contract with the Nationals following the 2006 season, outfielder Austin Kearns did not produce with the bat because he was often injured. His best season with Washington was in 2007, when he hit .266 with 16 homers and 74 RBIs.
This year, Kearns is having a comeback season with the Indians, hitting .303 with five home runs and 27 RBIs entering Friday's action. He added his sixth dinger with a three-run shot in the first inning and his seventh with a solo homer in the fourth. Manager Manny Acta said that Kearns is finally healthy.
"He was not healthy in Washington at all," Acta said. "He had a stress fracture in his leg, he had loose bodies in his elbow. Last year, he hurt his thumb. He is a very proud man. He felt pressure because of that big contract that was handed to him. He loves to play. He tried to play through it. It really didn't help him at all."