Indians Cut The Cord





CLEVELAND—It's a lot easier to have patience and give a rookie time to adjust at the major league level when a team isn't vying for first place in its division.

That hasn't been the case this season for the surprising Indians, who are ahead of their original rebuilding schedule and find themselves contending in the American League Central. That's why rookie second baseman Cord Phelps' stay in Cleveland lasted just a month, after he made his major league debut on June 8.

Phelps was originally called up to provide a spark in the lineup in place of slumping veteran Orlando Cabrera. But he struggled to hit while sharing second base with Cabrera, batting .196 in 46 at-bats. Still, Indians manager Manny Acta was pleased with the overall effort of the studious Phelps, a third-round pick in 2008 out of Stanford.

"It was a good experience for him," Acta said. "I don't think he was overmatched offensively because he did (put the) barrel on a lot of balls and won a game for us with a walkoff (home run)."

A rookie scuffling to adjust offensively in his initial big league stint is one thing, but the usually surehanded Phelps also committed five errors in 11 games. The defensive miscues indicated the game had sped up on him defensively as well.

"He struggled a little defensively, but we know that's not the player we saw in the minor leagues," Acta said. "(Phelps) is a good defensive player who just had a rough time."

That's why for now, Acta and the Tribe front office believe Phelps will benefit more in the long run getting back to playing on an everyday basis at Triple-A Columbus.

"He's not a finished product, by any means," Acta said. "But how many people play professional baseball for three years and get to the big leagues (to stay)? He earned it, but he has some work to do."

SMOKE SIGNALS

• Triple-A outfielder Ezequiel Carrera swiped a career-high and International League-best 30 bases so far this season, including 16 consecutive steals since June 6. Carrera has been successful in 89 percent of his attempts.

• Columbus manager Mike Sarbaugh had four of his Clippers players on his International League all-star roster: righthanders Zach McAllister and Jeanmar Gomez, second baseman Jason Kipnis and infielder Luis Valbuena.