Francona offers take on Raburn's diminished power

Francona offers take on Raburn's diminished power

BOSTON -- Ryan Raburn emerged as one of baseball's most surprising sources of power last season, giving the Indians a potent bat to utilize off the bench. This year, the utility man's pop has disappeared in the season's first three months.

"We've been actually talking about that a little bit," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Pitches that last year he hit, right now he's fouling back. He's sometimes [just a little] off."

Entering Friday's game in Boston, Raburn was hitting .211 with one home run, five extra-base hits and a .535 OPS through 135 plate appearances (44 games) for Cleveland. Through 44 games played for the Tribe last year, Raburn was hitting .258 with eight homers, 17 extra-base hits and an .865 OPS in 146 plate appearances.

Raburn ended last season hitting .272 with 16 home runs (the most in the Majors among players with fewer than 300 plate appearances), 34 extra-base hits and a .901 OPS in 86 games for the Indians.

"I don't see anything that's different," Francona said. "I know he looks at a lot of video and things, but I just think he's just a tick [off]. There's a lot of things. Sometimes you just get a pitch and you foul it, and that was your pitch. You might not get another one."

Cleveland can at least be encouraged by the fact that Raburn was batting .273 (12-for-44) over his past 17 games, entering Friday. Since batting just .164 in April, Raburn has also bounced back with a .250 average (17-for-68) since the start of May, entering Friday. That said, he only had a .338 slugging percentage over that same time period.

"He's very close to doing some damage," Francona said. "I just keep trying to remind him that, 'OK, you're hitting .210 or whatever, but you're an extra player. You have to sit on that sometimes. Don't beat yourself up in-between.' You've got to remind yourself sometimes, when you're an extra player that, 'Hey, I'm a good hitter, regardless of what the scoreboard says.' That's not always the easiest thing to do."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.