"We are better with him," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "I don't think that's a secret."
Cabrera spent much of the past week back home in Venezuela to be with his family after the death of his grandfather. His passing was sudden and tough on the shortstop, who was on Major League Baseball's bereavement list while he missed the Tribe's six-game swing through Seattle and Oakland.
"We were very close," Cabrera said.
Cabrera was back in the starting lineup at shortstop for Tuesday's game against the Royals, and in his usual spot as the Indians' No. 2 hitter. He went 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored in Cleveland's 4-3 victory.
In Cabrera's absence, utility man Jason Donald filled in admirably at shortstop and the Indians won four of the six games he missed.
Acta was thrilled to see that his club did not miss a beat while Cabrera was away.
"It's a team effort," Acta said. "I'm happy that we were able to go 4-2 without him. But, everybody here is a Major Leaguer. We have won games here when [Travis] Hafner has had a day. We've won games with [Carlos] Santana taking a day off and so on.
"What was impressive is it was six games -- it wasn't just a day off. It was good that Donald got some regular playing time and some at-bats."
Cabrera, who was batting .282 with two home runs and three RBIs through eight games for the Tribe before Tuesday, was officially activated from the bereavement list on Monday's team off-day. In order to clear room on the roster, Cleveland optioned lefty reliever Nick Hagadone to Triple-A Columbus. Hagadone was promoted to the big leagues when Cabrera left the team on April 17.
Hagadone posted a 2.70 ERA in his three relief appearances for the Indians.
"We've liked the way he's thrown the ball since Spring Training," Acta said. "He still has some work to do with his command of his pitches. He's not afraid to compete here and we wouldn't be afraid to have him later on to contribute here. But, right now, our bullpen is fine and he needs to continue to work. He'll have his time up here."