CLEVELAND -- Much has been made throughout the season about the Indians needing to make a move for an outfielder before the July 31 Trade Deadline. Every time a right-handed hitter is rumored to be on the market, the Indians seem to come up in conversation.
Manager Manny Acta has said publicly that he would like to see the team bring in somebody to help the Indians compete for the American League Central title. But left fielder Shelley Duncan, who has been one of Cleveland's top hitters recently, doesn't think the team needs anything. Duncan pointed to Saturday night's game, when the Indians started three bench players and produced seven runs, as an example.
"We have the talent," Duncan said. "A lot of people out there always talk about bringing in new people, getting a bat and all that stuff. But the guys we have on this team, we honestly feel from the bottom of our hearts, we don't need that. We don't need that at all. I just hope every time we get a shot like that [on Saturday], that it shows we don't need it."
Duncan continued his recent tear at the plate with a two-run homer in the eighth inning, his fourth home run in his last five starts. Duncan entered Sunday's game hitting .370 (10-for-27) with four doubles, four home runs and nine RBIs in his last nine games. He's raised his batting average from .194 to .222 during that time.
Duncan credited the extra playing time he received during designated hitter Travis Hafner's time on the disabled list for his improvement at the plate.
"It took a lot of stress off being perfect, and I just started swinging it, and relaxing," Duncan said. "That's what happens."
Duncan has struggled at times this season as he adjusts to not being an everyday player. He went hitless for a stretch of six consecutive games (11 at-bats) in June, and he seemed to be struggling with the mental part of the game.
In recent weeks, though, Duncan has gotten back to what helped him be successful early in the season. He's taking more pitches now, which has allowed him to get into more hitter-friendly counts. Duncan worked a 10-pitch walk in the second inning on Saturday night, starting the Indians' offensive rally.
"I know guys, when they get into slumps, they want to get two or three hits in one at-bat," Acta said. "It's about confidence. Everything is about confidence. Guys get into some bad spots, and they need to come out of it by making adjustments. Right now, his confidence is sky-high, and he helps us."