MINNEAPOLIS -- Jason Kipnis sat in front of his locker on Sunday morning with his headphones on and his legs up. The Indians second baseman was doing all he could to relax and focus on anything but his recent slump in the batter's box.
"It'll be a nice mental break from baseball today," Kipnis said.
Cleveland manager Manny Acta gave Kipnis a day off, putting utility man Brent Lillibridge in the lineup as the second baseman for the Tribe's tilt against the Twins. Kipnis is not the type of player to ask out of the lineup, but the second baseman sure sounded like he was fine with taking some time to regroup.
Dating back to June 18, Kipnis has hit .246 (30-for-122) with no home runs and 15 RBIs in 34 games for the Indians. Once Cleveland's leading home run threat, the second baseman entered Sunday's action without a long ball in his last 126 at-bats. In the past 34 games, Kipnis at least has more walks (21) than strikeouts (20) and a respectable .356 on-base percentage.
On the season, Kipnis is hitting .272 with 11 homers, 13 doubles and 56 RBIs through 99 games.
"Nobody knows that I haven't hit a home run in over a month more than me right now," Kipnis said. "The worst part is I don't know what changed or what went into it or anything. I haven't been doing anything different, but sometimes you drive the ball and sometimes you don't.
"I just kind of put myself in a little quicksand. It's kind of like the more you struggle to get out of it, the worse it gets. Right now, I'm trying to do too much. I need to just get my head in it and just go back to swinging."
Kipnis noted that pitchers have been approaching him differently than earlier in the season. He has been seeing fewer fastballs and has been given a steady dose of offspeed pitches when ahead in the count. He thinks that might be related to his move to the third spot in the lineup, but it could also simply be that pitchers are now more familiar with him.
"He's obviously more known now," Acta said. "When a guy comes into the league, people challenge him and see what he can do. After he proves to them that he can swing the bat, they'll approach him differently. Now it's his turn to adjust back. But if he's walking, he's doing the right thing. At least he's not chasing pitches out of the zone."
Acta not concerned about lack of moves near Deadline
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Indians are currently behind the White Sox and Tigers in the American League Central standings. Cleveland has also been behind in terms of making moves leading up to Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Indians manager Manny Acta said his team should not focus on that fact.
"We're not winning as consistently as we should," Acta said on Sunday. "So far, it has had nothing to do with [Francisco] Liriano or whoever else the White Sox or Detroit Tigers have gotten. We have to take care of our own business."
Chicago swung a deal on Saturday night to land Liriano, who had been slated to start for the Twins against the Indians on Sunday. The White Sox previously made deals to acquire third baseman Kevin Youkilis and reliever Brett Myers. Detroit reeled in infielder Omar Infante and starter Anibal Sanchez from the Marlins.
Cleveland has yet to make any major moves, but part of that is likely due to the club's recent subpar performance. The Tribe entered Sunday's game in third place and 5 1/2 games behind the White Sox for the division lead.
"I was expecting to play better than what we have," Acta said. "I wasn't planning on taking a step back when it came to our rotation and when it came to our offense. Up to now, we haven't met the expectations we had on both ends."
Asked if the Indians might consider trading away some of its players for prospects, Acta said it would likely have to be a deal that helped the Major League ballclub.
"I think if we do get prospects, it'll be upper-level prospects," Acta said. "That's probably the goal. Guys that can either come here right away or just be pretty close. Major League-ready guys that we can control."
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis entered Sunday ranked first among Major League second basemen with 303 assists this season. Omar Infante ranked second with 289. In Saturday's 12-5 loss to the Twins, Kipnis had an assist on each of the first five outs against Minnesota. His wealth of assists is helped by having a pitching staff that relies heavily on inducing grounders and creating contact.
"That's what infielders look for," Kipnis said, "not only ground-ball pitchers, but guys who fill up the zone fast and throw strikes."
Entering Sunday, Indians catcher Carlos Santana had hit .343 (12-for-35) with four home runs, five doubles and 11 RBIs in his past 11 games. In his previous 40 games, Santana hit .185 (25-for-135) with no home runs, seven doubles and 10 RBIs for the Indians. Santana was in the lineup as the Tribe's designated hitter on Sunday.
Indians setup man Vinnie Pestano entered Sunday with a 0.00 ERA (13 innings) over his last 13 appearances. The right-hander had a 0.42 ERA (one earned run in 21 1/3 innings) over his last 21 games, dating back to June 5, and a 0.64 ERA (two earned runs in 28 1/3 innings) over his last 28 games, dating back to May 18.
The Indians had yet to announce where right-hander Roberto Hernandez (serving a three-week suspension) will make his next Minor League start. Hernandez, who is eligible to rejoin the Indians on Aug. 11, is scheduled to pitch for a Minor League affiliate on Tuesday.
Quote to note
"The 30 [general managers] have all read the same book. I want your Corvette and I want to give you this little Fiat. Why not? Let me have your Corvette. Here, I've got this little Yugo for you, and I'll throw a Nissan Sentra in also, just to make you feel better."
--Indians manager Manny Acta, on trade discussions