SEATTLE -- The Indians have been forced to play without Travis Hafner for a significant portion of the season. In a way, it might be a look at how the Tribe will handle the designated hitter role next season.
Without the injured Hafner in the mix, Indians manager Manny Acta has rotated a handful of players through the DH role. Carlos Santana and Shelley Duncan have garnered the most action as the Tribe's DH this month, but Acta has also used the role to provide some rest for some of his other position players.
Acta believes having versatility in the DH role is the way teams are heading.
"It all depends on your options," Acta said. "Ideally, down the road, that's the way the majority of the teams are moving forward, where they can have a guy that can play a position on the field and they can rotate guys through there and keep them fresh.
"But if you have an ideal guy to be there, to be a force in your lineup, I wouldn't be opposed to that. You just have to weigh your options and go from there."
Hafner, 35, will be eligible for free agency after this season if, as expected, Cleveland declines his $13 million club option for 2013 and opts instead to pay a $2.75 million buyout. The veteran DH has hit .239 with 11 homers and 32 RBIs in 60 games this season, during which he has been hindered by knee and back injuries.
Hafner is currently on the disabled list with a lower back issue.
Acta taking hands-on approach during slump
SEATTLE -- Indians manager Manny Acta is not only trying to direct his team back to the win column, he is also trying to offer direction for the stretch run of a season that has seemingly slipped away from the reeling ballclub.
Part of Acta's task right now is to find a way to keep his players motivated.
"It's challenging to keep them motivated even when you're going good," Acta said on Wednesday. "It's a big amount of people. This is not a basketball roster. It is a challenge, but in this type of situation, yeah, it is harder, especially because you don't have that many veterans on the team.
"The coaching staff and myself, we have to be very hands-on with every single one of these guys, just making sure that they stay upbeat and they don't allow this to crush them and get them down."
Entering Wednesday's game against the Mariners, Cleveland had lost seven in a row and was 1-7 on its current trip through Anaheim, Oakland and Seattle. Dating back to July 27, the Indians were a Major League-worst 4-20 with the highest team ERA (6.39) in baseball over that span.
In those 24 games, Cleveland has tumbled from 3 1/2 games out of first in the American League Central to 2 1/2 games from the worst record in the league.
"It's hard," Acta said. "But I'm leading these guys, so whatever I [feel], I just don't do it in front of them. I show up every day with the same face and I prepare myself the best way possible to try to continue to put them in position to win a ballgame.
"Is it hard? Yeah. Am I sleeping like in any normal period? No. It's hard. That's the way to put it. I'm just not going to be crying in front of you guys. I don't think that's the right thing to do."
Acta said he is not spending any time worrying about his job security.
"As cliche as it might sound," Acta said, "I'm going to tell you the same thing over and over again. All I can control is preparing myself for every day and do the best I can. I'm doing the best I can."
Ubaldo: Falling behind leading to more homers
SEATTLE -- Indians pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez has experienced a variety of issues on the mound at various points throughout his career. Until this season, giving up home runs at a high rate had not been one of them.
"It's crazy," Jimenez said. "I don't know what it is. I guess it's just that every time I fall behind in the count, I try to throw a fastball in there and they're hacking hard and getting it out of the park."
Jimenez surrendered a pair of home runs in his most recent outing on Monday, when he took the loss after giving up three runs over 5 2/3 innings in Seattle. On the season, the right-hander has yielded a career-high 23 home runs in 143 1/3 innings.
His previous high was 17 long balls allowed in 188 1/3 innings a year ago.
Entering this season, Jimenez gave up 0.6 home runs per nine innings over the course of his career. This season, he has given up homers at a rate of 1.4 per nine innings.
Indians manager Manny Acta believes there is a simple explanation: Jimenez is falling behind in the count more often. Jimenez's first-pitch strike rate of 53 percent is tied for the lowest average of his career, while his overall strike rate of 59 percent is the lowest single-season mark of his career.
"Pitching behind in the count doesn't help," Acta said. "That's been the key. ... You don't want to put yourself in those spots. That's where hitters really have an advantage and let it fly."
Quote to note
"When I get depressed, I'm like a girl, I go shopping. So the losing streaks are costing me a lot of money. You should try lifting my suitcase. I feel sorry for the [bellman]. I make sure I let him know before I tip him, too, so he doesn't break his back."
--Indians manager Manny Acta
Entering Wednesday's game against the Mariners, second baseman Jason Kipnis had gone 4-for-9 with one home run and two RBIs in his past two games. In his previous 48 contests, Kipnis hit .207 (35-for-169) with no homers and 19 RBIs for Cleveland.
"It's good to see that," manager Manny Acta said of Kipnis' recent showing. "We've got over a month of baseball to play and this kid has been good for us. He has been struggling as of late, but we want to make sure that he finishes strong and ends on a high note."
Major League Baseball issued a 50-game suspension for A's right-hander Bartolo Colon on Wednesday for testing positive for testosterone. Colon, a former Indians pitcher, made his most recent start Saturday, when he held Cleveland to one run over eight innings to improve to 10-9 with a 3.43 ERA this year.
"I don't judge those guys," said Acta, when asked about the news of Colon's suspension. "I don't know. I don't have any feelings toward that. I really don't have any."
Indians right-hander Josh Tomlin (on the 15-day disabled list) was scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow Wednesday. Dr. Lewis Yocum was slated to perform the operation in Los Angeles. Cleveland has yet to announce the outcome of the procedure.
Acta said he plans on sitting down with general manager Chris Antonetti during the team's upcoming homestand to discuss possible Minor League callups for Sept. 1, when each team's roster expands to 40 players.