CLEVELAND -- The National League rules in Atlanta kept C.J. Cron out of the lineup this past weekend, and a stream of Indians right-handed starters prompted Angels manager Mike Scioscia to go with the left-handed-hitting Raul Ibanez on a daily basis. Suddenly, the still-developing Cron is adjusting to life as a part-time player.
"It's how it works," Cron said before Wednesday's rainout. "Obviously, I want to be in there as much as possible. But I'm not in the lineup, so I'll be ready in case a pinch-hit [opportunity] comes, or whatever."
Scioscia has continued to go with a strict platoon at designated hitter, starting Ibanez three straight times against righties, even though the 42-year-old carries a .153/.257/.258 slash line on the season and is 3-for-18 in his career against Justin Masterson, the Indians' starter on Thursday.
Scioscia pointed out that one of those three hits was a two-run triple on April 28. He also brought up the fact that Masterson has limited righties to a .630 OPS this season, and added that Ibanez "has had some good at-bats in this series," going 2-for-5 with a couple of walks and no strikeouts.
"I don't think you're going to look up tomorrow and see Raul hitting what he should with the production you would expect," said Scioscia, who had Ibanez as the designated hitter before Wednesday's rainout and put him at first base on Thursday. "But there's no doubt that he's making some strides in the batter's box and you're seeing better swings. The bottom line is production. Nobody understands that better than Raul. He knows that he needs to contribute and have better at-bats. Nobody is working harder at it than Raul, and we're very confident that he's going to contribute for us."
The question is: When will the right-handed-hitting Cron get playing time?
The 24-year-old had a .305/.329/.524 slash line as of June 4. But he has three hits and seven strikeouts in his past 20 at-bats, and he hasn't started since last Wednesday with the Angels mostly seeing righty starters. The Indians threw a righty in all three games this series, while the Rangers will start one lefty -- Joe Saunders on Friday -- in Anaheim this coming weekend. The Twins, who visit Angel Stadium for a three-game set starting Tuesday, have only righties in their rotation.
"There's a chance Cron will get some at-bats against righties, too," Scioscia said.
But for now, he waits, and the Angels face the dilemma of keeping Cron in the big leagues or sending him down to Triple-A so he can get consistent at-bats and continue to develop.
"Ever since I've been up here, I have kind of platooned," Cron said. "It hasn't switched yet. I come to the field every day as if I'm going to play. If I'm not in the lineup, I'll help the team later in the game."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less