Tito: Naquin 'pressing a little bit,' out of lineup

Manager doesn't want to take risk in Game 7; Davis gets start in center field

Tito: Naquin 'pressing a little bit,' out of lineup

CLEVELAND -- With everything on the line, Indians manager Terry Francona did not want to take a risk with his lineup for Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday night.

One day after rookie Tyler Naquin endured a rough night in the field and at the plate, the outfielder was out of the starting lineup against the Cubs for Cleveland's final game of the season. With right-hander Kyle Hendricks starting for Chicago, Francona opted instead to have veteran center fielder Rajai Davis assume Naquin's spot in the field and in the seventh spot in the order.

"You can tell he's pressing a little bit," Francona said of Naquin. "It's not punishment. We're just trying to win."

Game Date Matchup Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 25 CLE 6, CHC 0 video
Gm 2 Oct. 26 CHC 5, CLE 1 video
Gm 3 Oct. 28 CLE 1, CHC 0 video
Gm 4 Oct. 29 CLE 7, CHC 2 video
Gm 5 Oct. 30 CHC 3, CLE 2 video
Gm 6 Nov. 1 CHC 9, CLE 3 video
Gm 7 Nov. 2 CHC 8 CLE, 7 (10) video

During the Tribe's 9-3 loss to the Cubs in Game 6 on Tuesday night, Naquin made a critical fielding gaffe in the first inning and ended 0-for-2 with a pair of strikeouts. One of those whiffs came in the fourth inning, when Naquin had a chance to cut into Chicago's lead with two outs and the bases loaded. After the loss, Naquin admitted that he was "absolutely" thinking about trying to make up for his fielding mistake with a big hit.

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Naquin's offensive woes extend beyond just Game 6, though. The lefty-swinging center fielder has gone 1-for-7 in the World Series and has hit .174 (4-for-23) with 14 strikeouts against one walk in the postseason. Davis has also labored in the playoffs (.103 average through 29 at-bats), but the veteran offers better defense in center and impactful speed on the bases.

This marks the first time since June 30 that Naquin was out of the starting lineup against a right-handed pitcher.

"During the regular season, it's one thing where you kind of maybe let [Naquin] get through it," Francona said. "I just don't know that, with one game left, [we can do that]. [Corey] Kluber's pitching. You're trying to put a premium on making sure we catch the ball, and also we need to score."

Francona also noted that, if Hendricks is knocked out of the game by the Indians' offense, the Cubs would likely have lefties Jon Lester and Aroldis Chapman coming in the game behind him. Davis typically starts against left-handers and is often used a pinch-hitter in middle or late innings when a lefty enters for the opposition.

"So Raj was going to be in there anyway," Francona said.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. 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.