CLEVELAND — The way manager Manny Acta sees it, injuries derailed what could have been a promising season for the Indians.
Cleveland lost Grady Sizemore to a knee injury shortly into the year then endured the same fate with the organization’s top prospect, catcher Carlos Santana, who was shelved for the season just 46 games into his debut year.
“This is a club that just can’t absorb those type of injuries we absorbed this year,” said Acta, whose Indians ended the night in fourth place with a 68-91 record. “When you talk about the Cleveland Indians, I think the whole United States and the world thinks about Grady Sizemore. We’re not the type of team that can just have somebody get hurt and plug in a guy that hit 35 home runs two years ago or go out and get a guy. It really hurt us.
“Just imagine having Grady hitting in front of (Shin-Soo) Choo, and having a guy like Carlos hitting behind him the whole season.”
Entering the season, offense was expected to be a strong suit for Cleveland, while pitching was a perceived weakness. It worked out the other way around, thanks to the injuries and some surprising performances from the rotation and bullpen.
“I’m very happy (with our pitching). We have taken huge steps,” Acta said. “Nobody in our rotation took a step back because of an injury. The pitchers have made a lot more progress than our position players. It’s not a secret. Guys were pressed into duty. We saw flashes out of a few players but not consistency. The only guy who came up who was ready to make an impact was Carlos.”
Sizemore and Santana are expected to be healed by the start of the 2011 season, while designated hitter Travis Hafner will have another offseason to rest his ailing right shoulder.
It has Acta optimistic that the Indians can turn things around in his second season as manager next year.
“I am excited about this franchise,” he said. “It’s a fact that we have to do things a certain way. I can’t lie to people and say we’re going to go out there and sign three free agents that are going to make $15 million a year. That’s not going to happen here.
“Our best chance here is to draft, develop our players and make as few mistakes as we can so we can put a core together like it was done here starting in 2003. That’s a reality. To me, it’s rewarding to see guys making progress. The challenge is to turn it around. It will be very rewarding turning this around. It will be special.”
Reliever Hector Ambriz is scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery Friday in Anaheim, Calif.
Ambriz went 0-2 with a 5.59 ERA in 34 appearances for Cleveland.
The Indians are off today, wrapping up the regular season with a three-game series in Chicago that begins Friday at 8:10 p.m.
Fausto Carmona (12-14, 3.79 ERA) opens the set, opposing RHP Tony Pena (5-2, 4.85), while Carlos Carrasco (2-1, 3.26) goes Saturday (7:05 p.m.), the White Sox countering with LHP Mark Buehrle (12-13, 4.32).
Indians reliever Justin Germano (0-2, 2.33) will start the series finale Sunday (2:05 p.m.) against RHP Edwin Jackson (9-12, 4.53).
- Trevor Crowe’s hitting streak came to an end at 13 games with an 0-for-4 performance in Game 1 of the doubleheader. It was the longest current streak in the majors.
- The shut out in Game 1 was the Indians’ fourth of the season.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org.