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Asdrubal could follow Bourn in No. 2 spot


GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians filled the hole atop their lineup when they signed Michael Bourn last week. Cleveland has its leadoff man, but the team is still sorting out the second spot in the order.

On Monday, Indians manager Terry Francona said All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera might fit the criteria for that role.

"Cabrera is certainly a candidate for something like that," Francona said. "Just because we want to split it up and balance the lineup."

Francona was referring to the fact that Bourn is a left-handed hitter, as are second baseman Jason Kipnis and left fielder Michael Brantley. Cabrera, however, is a switch-hitter, so putting him in the second slot would avoid having back-to-back lefties against left-handed pitchers.

Cabrera also had relatively balanced splits against lefties (.286 average with a .796 OPS) and righties (.263/.745) last season. Overall, the two-time All-Star hit .270 with 16 home runs, 35 doubles and 68 RBIs in 143 games for Cleveland in 2012.

"There's a lot of different options," Francona said. "Bourn, it's not really an issue, because his splits are almost identical. It's just trying to not make it harder, especially Kipnis and Brantley. It's not that they can't hit lefties, but I'd rather not have a manager look up and say this inning is made for [a lefty pitcher]."

Last season, Bourn hit .273 with a .728 OPS against left-handers compared to .275 with a .745 OPS against right-handers. Kipnis hit just .215 (.581 OPS) off southpaws, but hit at a .280 (.787) clip against righties last year. Brantley hit .265 (.680 OPS) against lefties and .299 (.785) off right-handers.

Francona said his preference would be to have consistent lineup spots for his everyday players, but the manager noted that the batting order against a lefty or righty might fluctuate.

"The guys that are out there the majority of the time, I'd like to have some stability," Francona said. "Sometimes, injuries or things don't let you do that. But I'd like there to be some consistency."

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