CLEVELAND -- Following the trade of Orlando Cabrera to the Giants, second base belongs to rookie Jason Kipnis.
The Indians dealt Cabrera to San Francisco in exchange for Minor League outfielder Thomas Neal after Saturday's 5-2 win against the Royals. Cabrera wasn't thrilled in mid-June when the Indians called up Cord Phelps to share second base duties. The veteran received even less playing time when Kipnis was added to the big league roster.
"I thought he handled it very well. He was very professional about it," Tribe manager Manny Acta said. "He had a lot to do with the success we had here in the first couple of months of the season. He really helped Asdrubal [Cabrera] and helped a lot of the young kids. But the main thing was for us to get Kipnis the playing time that we think he deserves."
The Indians are developing their top prospects on the fly as they contend for the top spot in the American League Central. Kipnis and third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, in particular, have been thrown into the fire. To continue their progress, Acta said, the youngsters must play on a daily basis.
"[Cabrera] understood the situation," Acta said. "Anybody that is as competitive as he is wants to play every day, but we have to do what we have to do and in our case, we wanted Kipnis to play."
In his first game as the everyday second baseman, Kipnis connected for his first Major League home run, a solo shot to right field off Royals starter Danny Duffy in the fifth inning of the Indians' 5-3 loss on Sunday.
"In our scouting report, he's known as being kind of effectively wild and sometimes the fastball will run right over the plate," Kipnis said. "That's kind of what I was hoping for, and I got lucky enough to put a good swing on it."
In 91 games with the Indians, Cabrera batted .244 with four homers and 38 RBIs. He joins a Giants squad that sits atop the National League West. If they hang on, Cabrera would qualify for the postseason for the fifth consecutive season -- each with a different team. That winning mentality rubbed off in the Indians' clubhouse.
"He brought in that winning attitude," Acta said. "He pushed guys to be the best they could be on an everyday basis. That's something that we'll appreciate."