BALTIMORE -- The Indians are heading toward July within striking distance of the first-place Tigers in the American League Central. Under the circumstances, Cleveland will likely be classified as a buyer in the weeks leading up to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
General manager Chris Antonetti has already been active on that front.
"We have," Antonetti said on Tuesday at Camden Yards. "The intensity of those calls with other teams has certainly picked up over the course of the last couple of weeks. I still think it's an evolving process of teams defining what their needs might be, and that's certainly the case for us as well.
"We're most hopeful of just getting all our guys back healthy and allowing us to play healthy for a while. And then we'll see where we are in a few weeks."
Entering this season, Cleveland's rotation was considered the weak part of the roster, but the team's starters have pitched well enough to keep the club in contention. The Indians might still be in the market for a starting pitcher, but Antonetti has been happy with the overall showing of the arms in place.
"We'll see," he said. "Those needs can evolve over the course of a few weeks, but we feel good about the group of guys we have here. They've pitched pretty well here over the last few weeks. If they can maintain that level of consistency and continue to give us a chance to win most every time out, that's a good foundation to build from."
One area of the roster that has not performed as well as expected is the bullpen. The left-handed relievers have been inconsistent, and the back end of the staff was dealt a blow when All-Star closer Chris Perez landed on the disabled list with an issue in his right shoulder. Perez is due back soon, and Antonetti plans on keeping an eye on the bullpen's progress throughout July.
"We'll continue to assess it," he said. "If there's an opportunity to improve, we'll look to do that, but I continue to believe in the guys that we have down there. It's been good to see, especially over the past couple of days, they do a really good job in some key situations."
Asdrubal targeting Wednesday as activation day
BALTIMORE -- Two-time All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera walked out of the visitors' locker room on Tuesday afternoon with his bat in hand, headed into the tunnel and toward the batting cage, and is expected to be back in the batter's box on the field within the next two days.
Cabrera, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since June 3 with a strained right quad, declared himself back at full strength and said that he hopes to be activated as soon as Wednesday. He met with general manager Chris Antonetti before Tuesday's game against the Orioles to discuss the situation.
"I had a conversation with Chris today," Cabrera said. "They're going to make the decision today after the game. I've got to wait and see what happens. I hope that it's soon. Maybe tomorrow or Thursday."
Cabrera said that he does not need a Minor League rehab assignment.
"No, I'm going to start here," he said. "I want to start right away with the team."
Cabrera, who has battled the quad issue since at least late April, has hit .254 with five home runs, 18 doubles, two triples, 25 RBIs and 28 runs scored in 53 games. He hit .295 in the 24 games leading up to June 3, when he experienced a setback while running out a ground ball in the fifth inning of a game against the Yankees.
On Tuesday he went through hitting and fielding drills. Prior to Monday's game, he went through a more intense workout that included running the bases at Camden Yards. Manager Terry Francona monitored the gauntlet of activities and was impressed by Cabrera's physical condition.
Francona said on Tuesday that an announcement would be coming soon.
"He's doing really well," Francona said. "We want to let him go through his stuff today. We'll see how he bounces back, and we'll have some information [on Wednesday]."
Cabrera said that his comeback from the injury went more swiftly than he anticipated.
"Yeah, I thought it was going to be four or five weeks," he said. "We're at three weeks right now. I've worked really hard every day to come back and help. I'm 100 percent. I ran the bases [on Monday] and I felt really, really good."
Francona keeping mum on Tribe's potential All-Stars
BALTIMORE -- Manager Terry Francona knows how difficult it is for a skipper to select an All-Star team, having twice been tasked with that duty for the American League after his World Series title runs with the Red Sox.
One thing he knows all too well is that the AL manager is not going to make everybody happy with his picks, and some deserving players will inevitably be left off the roster. He has thought about which of his players are worthy of being included, but he is not willing to make that public.
Francona takes that approach out of respect for Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who is leading the AL this year.
"I'd like to keep that private," Francona said. "I have given it some thought, but I'd like to keep it private. Jim Leyland, I have as much respect for him as anybody in the game. And I've also been through the process, so I know how it works. I know he will leave no stone unturned, I'd be willing to bet. I also know it's an impossible job."
The Indians have a handful of candidates, but none is considered a lock.
Right-hander Justin Masterson is one possibility, considering he entered Tuesday with a 9-5 record, 3.48 ERA and 110 strikeouts in 108 2/3 innings. Other candidates are catcher Carlos Santana (.276, 10 homers, 19 doubles, 32 RBIs, 43 walks, .385 on-base percentage), second baseman Jason Kipnis (.282, nine homers, 19 doubles, three triples, 41 RBIs, 17 stolen bases) and left fielder Michael Brantley (.278, 16 extra-base hits, 37 RBIs).
Francona said that it's impossible for a manager to include all of the deserving players.
"You can't," he said. "You can't, because every team has to be represented. Sometimes one position can take away from something else. That's OK. You just have to know going in that you're not going to have the best 20 or 30 [players], because every team has to be represented. At some point, somebody is going to lose out."
Quote to note
"I've been really encouraged by the resiliency of the guys. We didn't get off to the best start, and then put together a stretch where we played great baseball for a few weeks. Then we went through another stretch, while playing against some very difficult competition, where we didn't play as well. It was really encouraging for us to see how we rebounded at the end of that stretch." -- general manager Chris Antonetti, on his team's play to this point
• Third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall was in the lineup on Tuesday after sitting the previous two games due to the opposition starting a left-hander. Entering Tuesday, Chisenhall was batting just .087 against lefties, dropping his career average to .198 against them. Manager Terry Francona believes that Chisenhall will eventually be able to start on an everyday basis no matter who is on the mound.
"I sure hope so," Francona said. "That's exactly what we want. And I know it's hard, because sometimes, when you don't face them, or you face them sparingly, [it's tough]. But the time will come. I would be willing to bet. The time will come. You watch."
• Closer Chris Perez, who is on the 15-day disabled list while recovering from an injury to his right shoulder, was scheduled to throw one inning for Class A (short season) Mahoning Valley on Tuesday night. Barring any setbacks, it will likely serve as Perez's final Minor League rehab outing before he is activated.
• On Tuesday the Indians named Class A (low) Lake County right-hander Dylan Baker the organization's Minor League Player of the Week for June 19-25. During that span, Baker made one start, holding Dayton to two unearned runs over seven innings. He struck out six, walked none and scattered five hits in the win.
• The Indians signed right-hander Jordan Milbrath -- their 35th-round pick in the First-Year Player Draft earlier this month -- on Tuesday. Milbrath was taken out of Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D. Cleveland has now signed 21 of its 39 Draft picks, including each of the selections in the first nine rounds.