April 23, 2014

Medina
Mostly cloudy
42°F

Tribe: Terry Francona in pen’s corner

CLEVELAND — The Indians bullpen entered Thursday night owning an 8.25 ERA since May 18 and without two-time All-Star closer Chris Perez. Still, manager Terry Francona is confident the relief corps will remain a strength for his team.

“You don’t want to lose any of your pitchers because they’re important,” Francona said, “but I think our bullpen is good and deep and I have an extreme amount of confidence in all of them. That’s a good feeling.”

The emergence of right-hander Cody Allen (2.16 ERA in 22 games through Wednesday) and the talent of right-hander Bryan Shaw (3.20 ERA in 21) have given Francona a wealth of late-inning options to accompany Joe Smith and fill-in closer Vinnie Pestano.

“Cody and Shaw, to me, are almost identical,” Francona said. “They can both do the same things. They can face righties and lefties. They complement each other very well. They have a little different styles, but pretty much similar results. They’re pretty good.

“The makeup is tremendous with both of them. Cody flew through the system and you can see why. Shaw, he’s kind of unflappable. He likes to take the ball every day and he just fires it. Guys like when he comes into the game. He gets it, he throws it, he gets it back and he throws it again.”

Francona has also seen positive signs in Pestano, who has struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness for much of the season. The right-hander’s velocity spiked in his appearance Wednesday, but Francona sees other things at work as well.

“It’s not the end all be all,” Francona said of Pestano’s velocity. “I think it’s more his delivery. Command is more important and that is coming. I think each time he throws, I think he’s getting closer to being Vinnie, and I think he feels the same way, too.”

Walking wounded

Francona said shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera has been battling a sore quad muscle for the past two weeks. Cabrera has been running gingerly and was even in the lineup at DH recently.

“We keep an eye on him,” Francona said of Cabrera, who had played in 49 of Cleveland’s 52 games through Wednesday. “We always have (Mike) Aviles we can fire in there if we need to.”

Slumping Santana

Carlos Santana was one of the Indians’ hottest hitters over the first month of the season. Santana, who batted .389 in April, entered Thursday hitting just .204 in 27 games this month.

Contact Chris Assenheimer at (440) 329-7136.