Indianapolis lineup strives for consistency

As the Indianapolis Indians move into the month of June, it may be good to take a minute to reflect on the accomplishments of May. The Indians went an International League-best 19-11 finishing with a 6.0 game lead in the IL's West Division. As of June 7 they stand at 34-25 with a 7.0 game lead.

On top of its record, the Tribe also hit for a combined average of .245 during May with a .311 on-base percentage as well as a .353 slugging percentage. Three Indians' batters hit .300 or above for May. Infielders Jordy Mercer and Matt Hague were two of those batters and have been recalled to Pittsburgh.

So how does the Tribe seem to be so consistent at bat? Well, Batting Coach Jeff Branson is the guy behind the scenes encouraging and giving pointers to the guys in the batting cage.

"[We're] just working on consistent AB's, you know," he said. "We're just trying to get the tempo, back-out plans and look for pitches in certain zones of every AB."

Even players who have recently joined the team have excelled. On May 30, Yamaico Navarro joined the Tribe after batting .178 for the Pirates. In an Indians' uniform, Navarro has so far batted .308 in seven games and knocked in three runs. Branson said that since they've met up with guys during Spring Training, keeping the Tribes lineup is not difficult.

"We have a feel for guys because they've been in Spring Training, you know," he said. "We've been around them and have a feel for what their needs are and what things they need to work on. But we just try to keep everything simple with guys and just go out and compete."

Branson said that his coaching style it to "just let them play." He gives them the information they need when they need it. He said that it's important for him "not to overbear them with information, but to just let them play."

As a result of "just letting them play" first baseman Jeff Clement went 4-for-4 in Saturday night's win at Victory Field. He scored two runs and drove in three en route to hitting for the cycle. It was the third Indians cycle in Victory Field history. Current teammate outfielder Alex Presley was the most recent Indian prior to Clement to hit for the cycle. Presley's cycle came against the Toledo Mud Hens on June 27, 2010.

Clement has now put together an 11-game hitting streak. He is second in the International League with a .321 batting average, with seven home runs and 26 RBI.

In order to prepare for every game, the team must prepare mentally, and Branson does what he can as a coach.

"I just give them a little information about the pitcher and just keep everything simple," he said.

Outfielder Starling Marte went 3-for-4 in Friday night's loss, falling just a double short of the cycle. However, he did score three times and drove in one RBI. He leads the IL with seven triples. Marte leads the Indians in hits with 53, runs with 32, triples with 7 and total bases with 92.

As so many different Indians build their stats and find a rhythm, Branson said that his job is to encourage the guys that are on streaks and to the guys that are working towards building streaks.

"We just go [to] work every day," Branson said. "Every day is a new day and we have to go and prepare that night or that day for the next game."


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