CLEVELAND — Cleveland manager Terry Francona put Ryan Raburn’s multi-year contract extension, announced Wednesday, into some perspective.
“Look, we’re not always going to be the high bidders, so we have to find ways to win,” Francona said. “Having a guy like Ryan Raburn on our bench is one of those ways.”
Raburn will receive $4.85 million, total, for the 2014-15 seasons, with the club holding an option for 2016.
Not bad for a guy who was cut loose by Detroit last season after hitting .171 with one home run and 12 RBIs in 66 games.
Conversely, in his first 66 games with the Indians, who originally signed him to a minor-league deal during the off-season, Raburn is batting .277 with 13 homers and 38 RBIs.
“Last year definitely took a toll,” Raburn said. “It was just one of those bad years. I was glad to get it behind me, and I appreciate that the Indians gave me an opportunity. The organization has been great to me, and I’m excited to have the opportunity to stick around for a few more years. I enjoy coming to the ballpark every day, and I think there are some great things to come here.”
Raburn said it meant a lot that the Indians made the first move. He was approached by general manager Chris Antonetti just before the All-Star break.
“When he was with Detroit we always appreciated his versatility and his quality at-bats,” Antonetti said. “He has fit in seamlessly, and his production speaks for itself.”
That production has not shocked Francona.
“Remember, 14 or 15 months ago the Tigers thought enough of this guy to make him their everyday second baseman,” Francona said. “He had a rough year, so he was available. Maybe we caught a break with him.”
QUICK BITE: When the Indians put Corey Kluber on the disabled list before Tuesday’s game, they called Matt Langwell up from Triple-A Columbus. The right-handed pitcher put the pedal to the metal and reported to the bullpen at Progressive Field by the end of the sixth inning.
Three innings later he turned his car around and headed back to Columbus.
“He popped his head in my office after the game,” Francona said, “and I told him, ‘Go eat your [bleep] off. Have a good meal.’ He’s a good kid. He knew he was coming up for one night, or half a night, or whatever.”
Langwell’s spot on the roster went to his Columbus teammate, Danny Salazar, whose recall had been planned for several days in order for him to start Wednesday night’s game against Detroit.
NEXT MONTH: Kluber’s sprained middle finger on his throwing (right) hand may set him back for far longer than the 15 days he was assigned to the DL. He could be out for as long as six weeks based on how long other pitchers have dealt with a similar injury.
Antonetti said he is “optimistic Corey will pitch in September.”
PAPA GRANDE: Detroit manager Jim Leyland said he will have nothing but great memories of one-time closer Jose Valverde, most recently a Mud Hen, who was given his unconditional release by the Tigers organization on Wednesday.
“That year  he was 49 for 49 in saves, that was something,” Leyland said. “Maybe the greatest memory that year is Game 5 of the playoffs, the division series at Yankee Stadium, when he got [Curtis] Granderson, [Robinson] Cano, and [Alex] Rodriguez … I think that was the order. What a finish.
“He was just a fun-loving guy, a great guy, who always wanted the ball. He was a terrific closer and a terrific teammate.”
The Tigers cut Valverde loose after he struggled at the end of the 2012 season, then re-signed him earlier this year. Papa Grande, as he is known, lasted 12 games with the Tigers, but had a 5.59 ERA. He then made 11 appearances with the Mud Hens.
“It was one of those things,” Leyland said. “We tried. He tried. It just didn’t work.”
FACE TIME: Quote-unquote Leyland on Justin Verlander’s strong, eight-inning outing in Tuesday night’s 5-1 win over the Tribe:
“There were two factors. One, his velocity. Two, his arrogance. He pitched with that arrogance we’ve seen over the years. All good teams and good players have a certain swagger without offending anyone. He had that mean streak in him. I could tell looking at his face.”
Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6398.
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