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Kipnis, Swisher get much-deserved breather

Kipnis, Swisher get much-deserved breather

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Kipnis, Swisher get much-deserved breather

CHICAGO -- The Indians arrived in Chicago at 3 a.m. CT on Friday and later played the longest doubleheader of two nine-inning games in Major League history. Then, on Saturday, Cleveland played a grueling day game after a night game. Manager Terry Francona understands his players are spent.

While first baseman Nick Swisher collected two go-ahead hits and second baseman Jason Kipnis reached base 11 times in the first three games of the Tribe's four-game set with the White Sox, Francona gave both players Sunday off. The Indians have an off-day Monday, so both sluggers will receive a nice break from action to rest their bodies. The goal was to have every Indians regular play three of the four games in Chicago.

"We knew we had all these games, and I actually talked to just about everybody," Francona said. "I tried to get a feel for how we're going to approach this. We knew all along what we were going to do. I think actually -- and I don't want this to come out wrong -- but I think the fact that [Kipnis] knew he had this coming helped him."

Francona had a talk with Swisher before Saturday's game and offered him a choice of playing or resting on Sunday. Swisher went 4-for-11 with a home run, four RBIs and four runs scored in the first three games at Chicago despite entering the series hitting .229 on the season.

Swisher rested on Thursday due to left shoulder soreness, and Francona said that he wanted to closely monitor the switch-hitting first baseman throughout the series in Chicago.

"In about the fourth inning, he said 'You know what? The more I'm thinking about it ...'" Francona said of Swisher's decision to sit out Sunday's finale. "And it's hard because he's starting to feel good at the plate, but it's the right thing to do."

Swisher knocked in a go-ahead RBI single in the eighth inning of Saturday's game off reliever Jesse Crain, who had gone 31 consecutive appearances without allowing an earned run.

Kipnis has been one of the most productive hitters in the Major Leaguers this month, having reached base in 32 consecutive games entering play on Sunday. The second baseman has a chance to become just the 15th Indians player since 1921 to finish a calendar month with a .400 batting average and an on-base plus slugging percentage of at least 1.200. After the first three games in Chicago, Kipnis was hitting .419 with a 1.216 OPS in June. He'd be the first accomplish the feat since Jim Thome in August 1996.

Ethan Asofsky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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