Friday 5: Indians notes heading into crucial three-game series

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The Indians have three games left in what has proven to be a tough nine-game road trip through the AL Central for the Cleveland Indians.

They are 27 or so innings away from returning home to Progressive Field, but the schedule doesn’t get any easier. Following this weekend series in the Motor City, the Tribe returns home to take on the 2014 AL Champions Kansas City Royals before closing out the month against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Nothing has come easy so far this season. With the exception of the red-hot Ryan Raburn, every member of Cleveland’s regular lineup is hitting well below .300. All 11 Indians home runs on the season have been of the solo variety. And they just can’t catch a break.

Here’s a look at five news and notes around Indians’ baseball this week:

(1) Zach Walters will stay in Triple-A…for now 

As super utility man Zach Walters continues to work his way back from an oblique strain, the 25-year-old will continue to play every day at Triple-A Columbus until he gets the call back to Cleveland. Walters, who was acquired from the Nationals in exchange for Asdrubal Cabrera, hit just .170 for the Tribe last season. But he was in the running for an Opening Day roster due to his ability to spark the offense with the long-ball from either side of the plate. Walters his seven home runs with Cleveland last season, but he offers significant upside because of his versatility in the field. The Indians do not have an open position for him as a starter, but Walters – much like Mike Aviles – can play nearly every position on the field. His stint in Columbus won’t likely be for long.

(2) Top prospect Francisco Lindor has snapped out of his offensive funk

Much like the big league club, top prospect Francisco Lindor was off to a slow start in Columbus. The 21-year-old shortstop began the 2015 campaign hitting 2-for-19, but has since gone 9-for-33 in the last nine games. Still hitting just .212/.293/.365 through 14 games, Lindor already has four stolen bases to go along with five extra-base hits – a home run, a triple and three doubles. If Lindor continues his production in Triple-A and Jose Ramirez does not pick up the pace offensively, Cleveland fans could very well see the future of the franchise at shortstop before the end of May.

(3) Nick Swisher begins his rehab assignment tonight

Continuing his recovery from surgery on both knees, Nick Swisher is scheduled to make his debut in Columbus tonight. The veteran switch-hitter played in just 97 games for the Tribe last season, his lowest number of games played since he broke into the league in 2004, and hit just .208. After nine consecutive 20-plus home runs seasons, Swisher hit just eight long-balls and 20 doubles last season while striking out 111 times. Though he hasn’t been the same offensive player since he arrived in Cleveland, the Indians could use any help they can find at the plate early this season. Perhaps Swisher can be the guy to light that spark.

(4) Veteran starter Shaun Marcum continues his tear through Triple A 

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When healthy, Shaun Marcum is a very good back-of-the-rotation pitcher in the big leagues. While he has not pitched in the majors for any significant period of time since 2013, when he was 1-10 with a 5.29 ERA with the New York Mets, Marcum looks to have regained his form. He boasts a career 3.87 ERA and a 58-46 record in over 1,000 innings of work. Though the Indians’ starting pitching has been very good to date, they are still missing a veteran arm in the rotation for time like this – when the going gets tough. Marcum is 2-0 at Triple-A Columbus, throwing 12 innings and allowing just two earned runs across two starts. He pitched five innings against the red-hot Detroit Tigers back on April 12 and allowed just three hits and one earned run. There’s no question he’s healthy. And there’s little question he deserves a shot in Cleveland. One more unproductive outing by T.J. House could be the calling card for the 33-year-old righty.

(5) Fans should get a statue at Progressive Field?

Over the last two seasons, the Cleveland Indians have added – or plan to add – a statue to Public Square. Joining Bob Feller outside the gates of Progressive Field was Jim Thome in 2014, and Larry Doby will be joining the crowd later this season. Sure, the Indians were great in the late-90s and there will very likely be a couple additions memorialized additions to Public Square from those exciting teams. But what about the fans? According to Tim Warsinskey of The Plain Dealer, Indians’ drummer John Adams should represent Tribe fans, as he wrote:

"For nearly 42 years and 3,300 games, John Adamshas dragged his drum to the top of the bleachers, encouraging Indians pitchers and hitters and fans, doing his part to help bring a championship to Cleveland. The beat goes on. Seasons come and go, never ending with a championship, and fans like Adams keep coming back."

I can’t say I disagree. Maybe it is the fans — and John Adams — who deserve to be recognized with a statue outside Progressive Field next season. What do you think? Use the comments section below to share your thoughts.

Next: 5 Indians to watch during AL Central road trip

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