MLB Team Report - Cleveland Indians - INSIDE PITCH


CHICAGO -- A lot of players feel a sense of relief when the July 31 trade deadline passes.

Zach Walters' relief happened on July 31, when he was called into an office and told by the Washington Nationals that he'd been traded to the Cleveland Indians.

"They called me in, gave me the (news). I sat down with everyone and I was like, 'Thank goodness. I am so happy,'" said Walters, 24, who felt like he was never given a full shot to prove himself in Washington. "I'm like, 'Yes, I'm out. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I'm out.'"

He's been sending baseballs out ever since joining the Indians -- six, to be exact.

Walters has hit nine home runs total this season, but clubbing six in his first 13 games with Cleveland set a club record. His sixth was also a big one, providing the winning runs against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday in an 8-6 victory to start a three-game series.

Walters, who's filling in at designated hitter while veteran Jason Giambi is on a rehab assignment, went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in a 3-2 loss Wednesday at U.S. Cellular Field. Still, he's just happy with the chance to prove himself.

"It's nice because that's all I wanted was consistent at-bats and it's nice being over here getting it," Walters said. "I wasn't getting that before, with some other team that I was with."

Walters doesn't mince words when talking about his time with the Nationals, who drafted him and first brought him to the major leagues.

"Everyone here is just about their business, working hard," he said. "You don't feel like you have to get four hits in one at-bat. They just want you to be productive any way you can."

His homer Tuesday was a prime example. After a leadoff double by Lonnie Chisenhall put a runner on second with no outs in the 10th, manager Terry Francona told Walters to just get the runner to third however he could. He wasn't instructed to only try for a sacrifice bunt.

Walters tried to bunt and failed to get it in play, so he took a different approach. He worked a full count off White Sox right-hander Jake Petricka and just tried to make solid contact. After he did, the ball sailed over the fence in right field an estimated 405 feet away.

"I fouled off the one (bunt attempt) and it was just like, 'That's it. I'm done. They're going to send me to like, rookie ball, for a week,'" Walters said. "And then I was like, 'All right, I've got it 3-2,' but that's good (Francona) had that kind of confidence in me. That's all I ask for, is someone to just kind of give me a shot. This place, I've loved it."

Despite the low batting average (.196) and high strikeout rate thus far, Francona has liked what he has seen of Walters.

"He's kind of come as advertised," Francona said. "They said he had a lot of pop. There's some swing-and-miss and he's given us a nice lift. He's a good kid, wants to get better. I think he's happy for the opportunity and he's trying to make the most of it."

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MLB Team Report - Cleveland Indians - NOTES, QUOTES


RECORD: 67-64

STREAK: Lost one