OAKLAND -- Fans watching baseball games at home can often see within a matter of seconds whether an umpire made a right or wrong call on a close play. Indians manager Terry Francona is pleased that Major League Baseball wants to increase the number of correct rulings.
The Indians enjoyed an off-day on Thursday, when MLB unveiled a plan to revise the use of instant replay for the 2014 season. Prior to Friday's game against the A's, Francona had plenty of questions about the proposed managerial challenge system, but he liked the direction the discussion was going.
"With technology getting so good, I like the idea of getting plays right," Francona said. "I hope that they come up with a system where the game doesn't drag out."
A committee of Braves president John Schuerholz and former managers Joe Torre and Tony La Russa presented a plan that would include one managerial challenge within the first six innings of a game, plus two additional challenges from the seventh inning to the end of a game. Not all plays would be reviewable, and managers could not argue situations that could be reviewed.
All replays would be reviewed by umpires at the MLB Advanced Media headquarters in New York.
The proposed plan still needs to be negotiated and approved by both the MLB Players Association and the World Umpires Association. MLB owners will also vote on the issue at the next meetings in November in Orlando, Fla.
"I think it's great, I really do. I think it'll be helpful," said 42-year-old veteran Jason Giambi. "I think it'll take some pressure off [the umpires], especially the way television is now with the replay and how they can break it down. I mean, they can slow it down to like a millisecond now. It's a joke.
"And, of course, if they get a call wrong, that's all they see the next day, especially if it hurts a game or plays a differerence in the game. I think those guys work too hard to constantly be ridiculed all the time. They do have the toughest job in the game, they really do. If they have a great game, you don't hear anything about them."
Francona said one of his concerns is hearing more detail on how and when a manager can argue calls, because "every manager is going to try to come up with a way to exploit it to their [advantage], which you're supposed to."
Francona added that, in his opinion, one solution to the instant-replay debate could be to simply have an umpire stationed in a replay booth at the ballpark for each game.
"I wish they had the fifth umpire," Francona said. "That would be great. Just put him up in the booth and, just like college football, if it needs to be changed, change it. It would take 10 seconds. But, again, I'm not in charge and probably never will be."
Santana back in cleanup spot for Tribe
OAKLAND -- Over the past few months, Indians manager Terry Francona was adamant that he would not move catcher Carlos Santana into the cleanup spot. Santana's first responsibility was to run the pitching staff.
Plans change, even if Francona believes the message is the same.
"We've tried to tell our catchers, 'Defense first,'" Francona said. "Then, if we turn around and hit the guy cleanup, that's kind of sending the wrong message."
Santana was in Cleveland's starting lineup as the fourth hitter for Friday's game against the A's, marking the second straight game that he assumed the cleanup duties. Slumping shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera -- the cleanup man over the past few weeks -- was dropped from fourth to sixth in the order.
Francona said the difference now is that Yan Gomes has seen an increasing amount of time behind the plate for the Indians. In turn, Santana has taken on more time at first base or designated hitter, the role he served on Friday.
"The reason we really didn't [hit Santana fourth] early," Francona said, "and I was retty open about it, was the fact that he was catching. ... But we've been catching Gomes more now, and with Santana either playing first or DHing, I don't feel like maybe we're sending the wrong message. Hopefully, we can use his offensive skills and not take away from the defense."
Entering Friday, the switch-hitting Santana was batting .261 with 14 home runs, 29 doubles, 51 RBIs and 60 walks in 113 game. Over the course of his career, he has spent the most time in the cleanup spot (194 games), but Friday marked only his seventh game filling that role this season under Francona.
Cabrera, who was out of Wednesday's lineup in Minnesota, entered Friday mired in an 0-for-16 slump. Over his past 36 games, he was hitting .175 with a .200 BABIP (batting average on balls in play), showing that some bad luck has played a role. In his previous 60 games, Cabrera hit .268 with a .333 BABIP.
"I actually think Cabby hit a lot of balls hard," Francona said. "I think when you hit in the middle of the order, you're going to get pitched to a little differently. That's why I kind of like the idea of a veteran there, because I'd rather a veteran handle it than a younger guy. I just think it works better.
"I do think Cabby has hit a lot of balls, lately, hard, and he hasn't gotten rewarded for it."
Carrasco to bullpen not a permanent move
OAKLAND -- The Indians have not given up on right-hander Carlos Carrasco as a starter, but the club plans on moving him to the bullpen for the time being.
Prior to Friday's game against the A's, manager Terry Francona indicated that Carrasco would assume a long-relief role for now. With a handful of off-days coming in the next few weeks, the Indians have some built-in rest for their five-man rotation.
Francona said the move is not a sign that the Indians believe Carrasco is best suited for a bullpen job.
"Until he proves that he can't start, we wouldn't bail on him as a starter," Francona said. "You don't find those arms that often. Down the road, maybe that is the case [that he would be a full-time reliever], but he'd sure have to prove that he couldn't start first."
Carrasco started in place of left-hander Scott Kazmir -- recently impacted by arm fatigue -- on Wednesday and gave up four runs on 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings against the Twins. It marked the fifth time in seven starts this season that Carrasco exited before logging five frames. Overall this season, the righty is 0-4 with a 7.82 ERA in eight appearances.
Carrasco's overall line is helped by the five shutout innings of relief that he turned in against the Angels on Aug. 9.
"We'll put him in the bullpen," Francona said. "For the time being, that's kind of where we are. I think we like the idea of always trying to have the eight-man bullpen, because we seem to be situated better to win that way. But, again, things happen. Things can change, as we've seen a lot."
Following Justin Masterson on Friday, right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez and Kazmir are slated to start against the A's on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. The probable starters for the next series in Anaheim is scheduled to feature Danny Salazar (Monday), Zach McAllister (Tuesday) and Masterson (Wednesday).
Francona said the Indians are not considering a six-man rotation right now.
"It would probably be hard to right now," Francona said. "When you get into September, that's a different story. We do have some days off coming up, also, that will build in that extra day for guys."
Quote to note
"I think it'll add interest to the game. You don't want to sit and have every call reviewed. Now, it's going to bring another element of when to do it. That'll be great. You've got to pick your spots. I still haven't seen what they're able to check on. That'll be a big issue, as well." --Indians veteran Jason Giambi, on the proposed plan to add manager challenges to baseball's instant-replay system
• Right-hander Corey Kluber, who is on the 15-day disabled list working his way back from a sprained right middle finger, played catch up to a distance of 90 feet on Friday. Indians manager Terry Francona said Kluber is "flying through" his rehab and is scheduled to advance to 120 feet in his throwing program on Saturday.
• Right-hander Josh Tomlin, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow, was slated to throw four innings (or 60-65 pitches) on Friday for Double-A Akron. Through six Minor League rehab outings, Tomlin has logged 8 1/3 shutout innings with seven strikeouts and no walks.
• Right-hander Brett Myers -- on the disabled list since late April with a right elbow ailment -- has completed four bullpen sessions in his latest return to the mound. Francona indicated that the veteran pitcher is slated to throw a simulated game on Sunday with Akron.
• With Wednesday's 9-8 win over the Twins in 12 innings, the Indians improved to a Major League-best 8-2 in extra-inning affairs this season. Cleveland also upped its record in one-run games to 24-14 (.632 winning percentage).