Raburn's bat vs. lefties a weapon for Tribe

Veteran utility man enters weekend series hitting .364 with five doubles

Raburn's bat vs. lefties a weapon for Tribe

DETROIT -- There has been a bright spot in the Indians' offensive issues in the early going this season. While the lineup as a whole has struggled to find a consistent rhythm, veteran Ryan Raburn has looked like himself again in the batter's box.

Cleveland values Raburn as weapon against left-handed pitching, and he has answered the call through the first two-plus weeks this season. The 34-year-old utility man has started mostly against lefty pitchers, and he has been used as a pinch-hitter. The early results have been strong.

"We've told him so many times that it doesn't matter what he's hitting," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "When he goes up to the plate, he's got to be fearless, but it's a heck of a lot easier when you're getting some results to show for it. I thought his last couple at-bats were really kind of the Raburn we had seen before."

Raburn was out of the starting lineup on Friday due to Detroit having righty Shane Greene on the mound, but he carried a .364 average into the three-game weekend series with the Tigers. Through 10 games and 22 at-bats, Raburn had one home run, five doubles and seven RBIs. Only one of his at-bats heading into Friday was against a right-handed pitcher.

The solid start has been encouraging for Raburn, who hit .200 with a .547 OPS in 74 games while battling wrist and knee issues last season. He underwent surgery on his left knee on Sept. 19 and spent this past offseason rehabbing, dropping weight and formulating a better daily routine. The Tribe's hope is that Raburn can perform more like he did in 2013 (1.020 OPS against left-handed pitching).

"After the way last year went," Raburn said, "the surgery, and putting in the amount of work and time that I put in this offseason, it's good to see some success come out of it. That's the main thing. It's nice to see some results early, especially as hard as it was last year as a whole. It can definitely ease some tension a little bit."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.