ST. PETERSBURG -- Indians manager Manny Acta considers a variety of variables when deciding who will man third base on a daily basis. Lately, Acta has been using his starting pitching as a starting point.
On days when a sinkerballer such as Justin Masterson or Derek Lowe is on the hill, Acta will typically lean toward using the defensive-minded Jack Hannahan. Jose Lopez has been getting the nod more often when fly-ball pitchers such as Zach McAllister or Josh Tomlin are starting for the Indians.
"If I have Masterson or I have Lowe pitching," Acta explained, "then I value the defense more than what the guy can bring offensively. That's when it changes."
Acta said he has been using the same approach in handling the playing time at first base. Casey Kotchman often gets the nod on the days when Masterson or Lowe start, while catcher Carlos Santana might move to first for a handful of the other games.
For Monday's game against the Rays, Acta went with the right-handed-hitting Lopez with right-hander Alex Cobb on the mound for Tampa Bay and McAllister starting for the Tribe. Acta said another factor that played into his decision was Hannahan's recent slump. The lefty-hitting Hannahan was in a 1-for-17 skid entering Monday.
Over his past 23 games, dating back to May 12, Hannahan has hit just .136 (9-for-66), watching his season average drop to .236 from .305 in the process. Lopez, on the other hand, has hit at a .419 (13-for-31) clip over his past 10 games.
"It's a combination today," Acta said prior to Monday's game. "Lopez is out there because, not only is McAllister pitching, but we're looking for some offense, and Jack's been scuffling a little bit of late."