Tribe asks Kearns, Buck to step up in right field

Tribe asks Kearns, Buck to step up in right field

Tribe asks Kearns, Buck to step up in right field
SAN FRANCISCO -- With Shin-Soo Choo on the disabled list with a broken left thumb, and sidelined for the foreseeable future, the Indians plan on moving forward with Austin Kearns and Travis Buck in a platoon situation in right field.

How long that plan lasts will be up to Kearns and Buck.

"We'll see," Indians manager Manny Acta said on Saturday morning. "After that, we'll look into Plan B, C, D, E and F."

Choo is expected to miss at least six weeks, perhaps more, after being hit on the hand by a pitch from San Francisco's Jonathan Sanchez in Friday's 4-3 loss. The right fielder will likely need surgery, and Cleveland needs to find a solution for his absence both in the lineup and in the field.

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Acta noted that he has discussed the situation with general manager Chris Antonetti, who is currently weighing through the team's alternatives. The Tribe is considering its options at Triple-A Columbus, but Acta indicated that the club is also exploring the trade market.

"I talked to Chris today," Acta said. "We continue to look externally, and internally at our guys in Triple-A. It's obviously very early. It's kind of tough to make trades and stuff like that, because just about every club is still in it."

As for the team's options at Columbus, Acta mentioned outfielders Chad Huffman and Ezequiel Carrera. Huffman, who is not on the 40-man roster, was hitting .261, with 10 home runs and 38 RBIs through 66 games. Carrera (on the roster) was batting .300, with two homers, eight doubles, 23 RBIs, 27 stolen bases and 53 runs in 65 games.

Other Triple-A options might include Luis Valbuena, who has seen time in the outfield and is on the 40-man roster, or Jerad Head, who is not on the roster. Valbuena has hit .309, with nine homers and 48 RBIs in 64 games. Head has batted .311, with nine homers and 33 RBIs in 59 games.

"We have Carrera and we have Huffman down there," Acta said. "Those are options for us. We're going to have to see how things work out here."

Entering Saturday, Kearns -- signed to a one-year contract over the winter -- was hitting just .198, with no homers and two RBIs through 31 games for the Indians. Buck was batting .228, with two homers and nine RBIs. Acta also noted that Shelley Duncan could see action in the outfield.

Acta added that the struggles of Kearns and Buck likely stemmed from their sporadic playing time.

"It's kind of tough to ask either one of those guys to produce," Acta said, "when neither one of them has ever been a bench player."