"It's mostly because of the amount of innings we have played," Acta explained. "When you leave Arizona or Florida, you don't prepare these guys to play 28 innings in the first two games and 37 in three. It was a grueling series."
The Indians and Blue Jays engaged in a 16-inning marathon on Opening Day on Thursday, marking the longest season opener in baseball history. Then, the clubs played 12 innings on Saturday, representing the first time since 1969 that any teams needed at least that many frames to finish the first two games of a season.
Helping make Acta's decision to switch things up was the fact that left-hander Chris Sale was starting for the White Sox. Under the circumstances, Acta gave left fielder Michael Brantley, designated hitter Travis Hafner, first baseman Casey Kotchman and third baseman Jack Hannahan -- all left-handed batters -- the day off from starting.
Jason Donald got the nod at third base and filled in for Brantley in the leadoff spot, while Jose Lopez started at first base and was placed in the fifth slot. Aaron Cunningham started in center field and Lou Marson was behind the plate, respectively. Regular catcher Carlos Santana slid into the DH role for the Indians.
"It's the beginning of the season," Acta said. "And, it's also a combination of facing a guy [Sale] who can be very tough on some of our left-handers. It's too bad you don't have a bigger roster like in Spring Training."
Donald -- a backup option for second base, shortstop, third base and the outfield -- was thrilled to be in the starting lineup for the first time this season. The utility man said he headed into the year knowing he would probably start mostly against lefty pitchers. On the days he comes off the bench, Donald has developed an in-game routine for staying fresh.
"I had a good idea that this was the type of role I'd be in," said Donald, who hit .377 against left-handers last season. "I'm excited. No matter if I'm in the lineup when a righty is throwing or a lefty is throwing, I try to keep the same approach with my at-bats and the style of play and whatnot. But I'm definitely excited."
Lopez -- who made the Opening Day roster as a backup option for first, second and third base -- is a former American League All-Star, whose best season (2009) included 25 home runs, 42 doubles and 96 RBIs for the Mariners. After a couple of down seasons, Lopez is trying to adjust to being a part-time player for the Tribe.
"That's what we're looking for," Acta said. "I know that he's still very young and given an opportunity, he might become the guy he was two or three years ago. That's not the case here, but we're trying to envision him as that guy that can be very valuable for us coming off the bench. ... It's a tough role to handle, but he knows that's what's in front of him here."