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Defensive woes a factor in Indians' slow start

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Defensive woes a factor in Indians' slow start

CLEVELAND -- For the coaches committed to getting the most out of this Indians club, defensive erosion remains the most puzzling element of the less-than-inspiring start to the 2014 season.

The Tribe entered Sunday with a Major League-leading 43 errors, nearly half as many as they made in all of 2013 (98). The Indians have already allowed 26 unearned runs after giving up 51 in '13.

This has, naturally, led to some extra work before batting practice. But the Indians are careful not to overdo it on that front.

"We have to weigh the fact that we're playing every day, so we can't go over the top," infield coach Mike Sarbaugh said. "We've done extra, at times. But a lot of it is just the mental part of it, making sure we're ready from pitch to pitch. Physically, we can do the job. It's just making sure we're staying in the moment and not thinking about the past."

As manager Terry Francona said, not even extra work would account for the kind of blunder that happened on Saturday night, when Jesus Aguilar simply dropped the ball on a would-be double play. It opened the door to a three-run, two-out outburst from the A's.

"We're at a point where the way we're playing, there's not a lot of wiggle room," said Francona, "and when you make errors or [allow] extra opportunities, it's been very costly."

The Indians entered the series finale with the A's ranked 26th out of the 30 MLB teams in Baseball Prospectus' defensive-efficiency rankings.

The Indians committed two additional errors during Sunday's 13-3 loss to Oakland.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, CastroTurf, and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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