CHICAGO -- Shelley Duncan's primary role is to provide the Indians with a solid offensive option against left-handed pitching.
In Wednesday's 8-6 loss to the Tigers, Duncan looked just fine against hard-throwing right-hander Justin Verlander. Duncan -- in the lineup more of late due to a rash of injuries -- launched a pair of Verlander heaters out to left field for two long home runs at Progressive Field.
"That was impressive," Indians manager Manny Acta said.
Duncan has been an offensive force of late for the Tribe, belting four homers in his past four games, entering Thursday's tilt in Chicago. The part-time utility man -- an option at first base, designated hitter and left field -- had a two-homer showing on Sunday in Kansas City prior to his power display against Detroit's ace.
Of late, Duncan has used increased playing time to his advantage. With left fielder Michael Brantley (right wrist) and designated hitter Travis Hafner (right foot) on the disabled list, and first baseman Matt LaPorta in the Minors, Acta has asked Duncan to fill a variety of roles.
Since being recalled from Triple-A Columbus on Aug. 19, Duncan has hit .317 (13-for-41) with four homers, two doubles and 10 RBIs in 13 games. Overall, Duncan was hitting a career-best .264 through 56 games for the Tribe this season. He was also hitting right-handers (.288) better than lefties (.241).
"He prepares himself," Acta said, "and he's taken advantage of his opportunities as of late, which is good. That's all he can do."
Duncan said the increased time in the lineup has helped.
"Tons," Duncan said. "You got to make small adjustments here and there. You're comfortable seeing the baseball. You go up in the box and put together a game plan and stick to it, instead of grinding every single at-bat."