CLEVELAND -- Not so long ago, opposing pitchers had little to no reason to give Shin-Soo Choo anything to hit. Choo was moved up to the No. 2 spot of the Indians' lineup as a function of Asdrubal Cabrera and Grady Sizemore going on the disabled list. Though Austin Kearns performed better than expected in the middle of the order, the fact is, when it comes to the kinds of threats who strike fear in the heart of the opposition, Choo was the beginning and end of the list.
Now that prized prospect Carlos Santana is in the bigs and raking in the No. 3 spot (.333 average, four homers and 14 RBIs in 15 games), the situation is quite a bit different. And that could be one reason why Choo erupted for four homers, eight RBIs and a 1.273 OPS over his last six games. "It's all about getting people around him," manager Manny Acta said of Choo. Acta said he envisions moving Choo back to the No. 3 spot, where he belongs, and placing Santana in the No. 5 spot, behind Travis Hafner, at some point. For now, Choo, as a No. 2 hitter, wants to do whatever it takes to get on base to set up opportunities for the middle of the order. "My focus is on on-base percentage," he said. "The three guys behind me can get extra-base hits. If I go to first base, draw a walk, I have a good chance to score. I was really mad a few weeks ago, when I was like 6-for-40 and Kearns was really hot. I wasn't helping." With his recent power surge, Choo has helped himself and his team considerably.