The Tigers released Raburn on Nov. 20, a little more than a month after Francona took over as Cleveland's skipper. When Spring Training rolled around, Raburn was in Indians camp with a Minor League contract.
"We called him right away," Francona said. "He got off to a really rough start last year and it kind of snowballed on him. He's got a nice, short stroke. He looked to me like he could be a really good guy to come off the bench."
The move has paid dividends for the Tribe. At last, Raburn's strong spring numbers have carried over into the regular season. He batted .341 with five homers in Cactus League play. Entering Friday's contest, Raburn had compiled a .364 average with four homers and 10 RBIs in 16 games.
Thursday's off-day interrupted a 12-for-14 stretch that includes all four of his homers and a barrage of hits in seven consecutive at-bats. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Raburn is the fourth player in the last 75 years with at least 11 hits and four homers in a three-game span, joining Duke Snider, Kirby Puckett and Shawn Green.
Raburn is the first Major Leaguer since Kevin Kouzmanoff in August 2009 to collect 11 hits in a span of 12 at-bats, according to Elias. The 32-year-old Raburn, who identifies himself as a "streaky" hitter, said he has never had a stretch like this.
"Not to this extent," Raburn said. "I'm just really focusing on trying to have good, quality at-bats and I'm not really worried about the results. The results right now are falling in."
Zack Meisel is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @zackmeisel. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.