Francona confident Gomes will bounce back

Manager believes catcher will continue improving at plate as he regains strength in knee

Francona confident Gomes will bounce back

CLEVELAND -- The Indians have enjoyed having catcher Yan Gomes back in their lineup for the past two weeks. Cleveland will enjoy it even more when Gomes begins hitting again like the player who won an American League Silver Slugger Award last season.

Gomes has been understandably slow out of the gates offensively since coming off the disabled list on May 24, following a six-week comeback from a sprained right knee. The catcher has looked better in recent games -- collecting five hits in his past four games, entering Saturday -- but had just a .176 average and .400 OPS through 13 games this season.

"He's a good hitter. He'll hit," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "I don't want to say it's inevitable, but I can't say it's not totally unexpected that a guy misses that much time and doesn't have perfect timing."

Last year, the 27-year-old Gomes hit .278 with 21 home runs, 25 doubles, 74 RBIs and a .785 OPS in 135 games as Cleveland's starting catcher. He only played in five games this season before sustaining the sprained MCL in his right knee during a play at the plate in the ninth inning on April 11 against the Tigers.

Gomes' injury

As Gomes continues to regain strength in his knee, his offensive production should also begin to improve.

"I think that's fair," Francona agreed. "I don't think any of us know. He might not even know exactly. You start competing, and you forget about things. I think that's fair. The more he plays and knows he's healthy, the better he'll be."

Even if Gomes is not hitting on all cylinders at the plate, Francona said it helps having his right-handed bat in the lineup.

"It can be a deterrent for other teams," Francona said. "They see him sitting there, and it's always going to be a deterrent if you go get a lefty, which is good. He's going to start swinging. He's kind of a force."

Worth noting

• Francona noted that pitcher Josh Tomlin, who underwent right shoulder surgery on April 8 and was expected to miss three to four months, was in Cleveland for a check-up this weekend. The manager said he was looking forward to seeing Tomlin, who normally has long, curly hair.

"I heard he got his head shaved," Francona said. "I've got to see this. This will be an all-timer."

• It is no secret that Francona loves having versatile players and has a reputation for using his bullpen a lot. It should be no surprise then that A's switch-pitcher Pat Venditte has caught Francona's eye. Quipped the manager: "That's probably one of my dream scenarios."

• Outfielder Jerry Sands, who was designated for assignment on Sunday, has cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Columbus. Sands has hit .375 with three extra-base hits and six RBIs in 10 games for Cleveland this year.

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