ANAHEIM -- Ryan Raburn is undoubtedly the most surprising source of power this season for the Indians. Take a closer look at the numbers and an argument could be made that the utility man is the most unexpected power hitter in the American League this year.
"He's a legitimate power bat," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "That's a nice part of a team to have."
During Sunday's 7-3 loss in Oakland, Raburn launched a solo home run off A's lefty Tommy Milone in the second inning. The blast was the 15th of the season for Raburn, pulling him into a tie with Jason Kipnis (and recently released Mark Reynolds ) for the team lead. Entering Monday's game in Anaheim, Raburn ranked 11th on Cleveland's roster in at-bats.
Through 71 games this season, Raburn has posted a slash line of .272/.366/.574 in 195 at-bats for the Indians, who signed him to a Minor League contract over the winter.
Among the 566 Major Leaguers with 200 or fewer at-bats this season, Raburn's 15 home runs rank first. To frame it another way, consider that there are 73 players in baseball who have launched at least 15 homers this season. Among that group, Raburn has the fewest at-bats. Even if that sample is expanded to the 121 players with at least 11 homers, Raburn still ranks last in at-bats.
Raburn headed into Monday's action averaging one home run per 13 at-bats on average. Only Baltimore's Chris Davis (9.9) and Detroit's Miguel Cabrera (11.1) ranked better among Major Leaguers with at least 200 plate appearances this season. There are 301 Major Leaguers on that list.
"I think confidence plays a big role in it," Francona said. "And he maintains a really good routine whether he plays or not. He's pretty much had the same swing almost all year. There's been a couple games where's he's gotten a little long, but he's really maintained his swing all year long. That's not an easy thing to do, especially when you're a bench player.
"It's exciting. There's not too many [bench] guys you can play where he comes in a game and we've hit him cleanup, or we've hit him fifth. ... The power, for the amount he's played, that's a lot."
Rzepczynski clarifies comments about Yadi
ANAHEIM -- Indians left-hander Marc Rzepczynski wants to make something clear: He does not blame his struggles in St. Louis earlier this season on catcher Yadier Molina.
Earlier this week, Rzepczynski said that his woes with the Cardinals were partially due to the fact that he never shook Molina off, even if the reliever did not like the pitch being called. The lefty thought more about his comments and felt they could have been interpreted the wrong way.
"I just want to make it clear that I wasn't calling Yadi out," Rzepczynski said prior to Monday's game in Anaheim. "Yadi's the best catcher in the game -- hand's down. He's the best catcher in the game. It's my fault when I don't execute a pitch, and it's my responsibility, if I don't like the pitch, to shake it off."
Rzepczynski, who was acquired from St. Louis prior to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, entered Friday with a 0.00 ERA and only three hits allowed through 7 2/3 innings with Cleveland. In 11 appearances for the Cardinals earlier this year, the lefty posted a 7.84 ERA with 16 hits surrendered in 10 1/3 innings.
Since joining the Indians, Rzepczynski has thrown fewer fastballs, while increasing the use of both his slider and changeup. In an article on MLB.com on Saturday, Rzepczynski said that "the motto in St. Louis is that you just don't shake Yadi off." Molina called for more fastballs than the left-hander was used to throwing, especially against right-handed hitters.
Rzepczynski was quick to say, however, that the only person to blame is himself.
"He's the best catcher in the game," Rzepczynski repeated. "He's so good at scouting and he's so good at what he does that, most of the time, he's right when it comes to how to approach hitters. But, if I'm not comfortable with a pitch, it should be my responsibility to shake it off. Starters shake him off all the time.
"I had success with him in '11 and '12. I rarely shook him off then, because he's usually right. I just want it to be known that I would never say anything bad about Yadi. I would never blame him for my struggles."
Quote to note
"I've been on the other side where everybody wants to play and when they're not playing they're ticked, and they're hoping the guy ahead of them makes outs, so they can play. As a manager, you appreciate [a good bench] when you have it."
--Indians manager Terry Francona
• In the first inning of Sunday's 7-3 loss to the A's, Kipnis struck out after fouling off a pitch from Tommy Milone. Home-plate umpire Mike DiMuro ruled that Kipnis was out, even though the foul ball appeared to hit the ground before catcher Derek Norris could grab it.
"He foul tipped it, but the ball hit the dirt," said Francona, who argued the play on the field. "There was a big mark where the ball hit. The umpire kept saying, 'You're making a good point.' I said, 'I know, but you called him out.' He goes, 'Well, I can't change it.' I go, 'But look at the mark.' He just kept saying, 'You're making a good point.'"
• Indians right-hander Brett Myers, who has been on the disabled list since late April with a right elbow injury, completed a simulated game with Double-A Akron on Sunday with no isses. Francona said Myers is "antsy" about being activated, but the manager indicated that the pitcher needs to log more Minor League innings.
• Indians right-hander Josh Tomlin is slated to throw around 75 pitches in a Minor League rehab start with Triple-A Columbus on Thursday. Tomlin, who is making his way back from Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow, has a 0.73 ERA with 10 strikeouts and no walks in 12 1/3 Minor League rehab innings.
• Indians starter Corey Kluber (on the disabled list with a sprained right middle finger) resumed his throwing program on Monday, working up to 150 feet with tape on his injured digit. After that long-toss session, Kluber threw without the tape up to a distance of 60 feet. He will continue his throwing progression on Tuesday.
• Indians left fielder Michael Brantley entered Monday's game riding an errorless streak of 212 consecutive games. That was tied with Rocky Colavito (1959-66) for the longest error-free run in franchise history for an Indians outfielder.