CLEVELAND -- The Indians entered this season with high hopes that Jason Kipnis would serve as an offensive catalyst in the heart of their lineup. The second baseman has gotten off to a slow start, but there appear to be signs of life lately.
During Monday's 9-0 rout on the road against the Royals, Kipnis belted a solo home run in his first at-bat, ending a drought of 150 plate appearances without a long ball. The young second baseman had also collected at least one hit in six of his past eight games, entering Tuesday.
"It was just a home run," Kipnis said. "It's just one hit. I wouldn't put too much emphasis on the home runs. I think there's other ways to contribute in the game. That being said, it's always nice to hit one.
"We're getting there. I'd like to string together a little more than that, and hopefully more than one hit in those games. But we're slowly going in the right direction."
On the season, the 26-year-old Kipnis was batting .185 with one home run, three doubles, four RBIs, four stolen bases and five runs scored through 16 games played. While his .242 average in his most recent eight games heading into Tuesday is hardly a breakout showing, it is at least a sign of progress.
Indians manager Terry Francona was optimistic that Kipnis would snap out of his early-season funk soon enough.
"He got a pitch over the plate and drove it for the home run [Monday]," Francona said. "That was good. There's enough of a track record there. I know he doesn't have a ton of time in the big leagues, but you watch. You'll look up in a couple weeks, or three weeks, and his batting average will be where you're normally accustomed to seeing it."
The last time Kipnis' average stood at .280 was June 23 of last season. In the 99 games since that point, the second baseman has hit .228 (86-for-377) with four homers and 39 RBIs. Over the previous 105 games, Kipnis opened his big league career by hitting .277 (115-for-415) with 18 home runs and 60 RBIs.
Kipnis has spent a lot of time lately studying video of his good at-bats from last season in an effort to correct some flaws in his swing and approach.
"We're just looking at last year's videos right now," Kipnis said. "We're looking at last year's hits, what was going right, what was going well. I'm trying to get back to that swing. I'm just trying to shorten down the swing and get quicker to the ball."