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December 7, 2010

Winter Meetings

Acta looks back and forward.

by David Laurila

Manny Acta is a positivist and a patient man, and for the skipper of a team coming off a 69-93 season, those qualities are much in need. Not only are the Indians in a youth movement, several key players missed significant time with injuries in 2010 as the club limped to a fourth-place finish in the AL Central. Acta looked back, and forward, when addressing the media on day one of the Winter Meetings.

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Acta on what he did well as a manager in 2010: “Some things I can’t control. I can’t control players’ health. I think that this year was a good opportunity for me to sit back and watch some of those kids who got called up prematurely. Some of those guys were not even supposed to be in the big leagues until September, so I sat back. I think that was the best thing I did. I sat back and let them play; I let them settle down, because some of these kids are always looking over their shoulder when they first come up. ‘Am I going to stick up here or am I going to be sent down?’ So we let them play and I think it helped that we set out that plan as an organization. We knew that we were going to have to let guys like Lou [Marson] and [Michael] Brantley and [Matt] LaPorta go through some struggles. The fact that we sat back and allowed them to fight through those struggles was the best thing we could do.

“How much you want to let some of those guys play also depends on your options. A team like ours cannot absorb those types of injuries that we had. A guy like Jason Donald, who wasn’t supposed to be in the big leagues until September, had to be in the big leagues in May. He kept his head above water and we were happy for that, but if you do have choices, if you do have options…I think we did a pretty good job of staying away from some guys who the public, or whomever, are claiming that should be up. Guys like Lonnie [Chisenhall] and [Jason] Kipnis are the next generation of guys that we’re going to have to monitor and make sure that when they come up here they‘re ready enough that they don‘t hit too many bumps in the road.”

On going forward into 2011: “We were a little offensively challenged last year and that was due to the fact that our best player [Grady Sizemore] didn’t play for five months. Having him back along with [Shin-Soo] Choo, and Carlos [Santana], who was able to change our lineup completely by himself when he came up…[Asdrubal Cabrera and [Travis] Hafner, and those young kids that are coming up, it will be different. But you win in this game with pitching. The Giants were a great example of that. And I’m very happy with the progress we’ve made. We allowed 113 fewer runs than we did the year before, and the second half of the season our pitching staff, overall, ranked pretty high. I have high hopes.”

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