DET@CLE: Vizquel inducted into Indians Hall of Fame

CLEVELAND -- There is no denying Omar Vizquel's place in Indians history. A sellout crowd at Progressive Field on Saturday night was evidence of the legacy that the former shortstop left behind here in Cleveland.

Little O now has a home in the Indians Hall of Fame.

"You prepare for a moment like this," Vizquel said on Friday. "You prepare yourself for it. But when the moment gets there, everything changes and your emotions are really high."

Prior to Saturday's game against Detroit, Vizquel was honored in an induction ceremony on the field, where six Indians Hall of Famers -- Sandy Alomar Jr., Carlos Baerga, Mike Hargrove, Kenny Lofton, Charles Nagy and Andre Thornton -- joined him. Cleveland also inducted long-time radio broadcaster Jimmy Dudley posthumously into the Indians Distinguished Hall of Fame.

Vizquel's Indians Hall of Fame plaque included a bronzed image of the shortstop making a barehanded grab. A smiling Vizquel kissed the plaque and waved to a roaring crowd as he emerged from the center-field wall and walked onto the infield. Following a video tribute on the Progressive field scoreboard, Vizquel spoke to the crowd.

"Cleveland," Vizquel said, "you will always have a very special place in my heart."

It was a well-deserved honor for the 47-year-old Vizquel, who now serves as a first-base coach for the Tigers. There are flecks of gray in his hair, but Vizquel still looks like he could head out to the infield dirt and make a highlight-reel play. For 11 seasons of his 24-year career, Vizquel called Cleveland home and cemented his place in baseball history as one of the all-time great defenders.

Vizquel collected eight of his 11 Gold Gloves as a member of the Indians, who watched him develop into a formidable offensive weapon. From 1994-2004, Vizquel hit .283 with 60 home runs, 288 doubles, 39 triples, 584 RBIs, 279 stolen bases, 612 walks, 906 runs scored and 1,616 hits in 1,478 games for the Indians.

Vizquel rankes in Cleveland's all-time top 10 for stolen bases (second), singles (fifth), runs (sixth), hits (seventh), doubles (eighth), total bases (10th) and games played (10th). The shortstop was a member of Cleveland's 1995 and '97 American League champion teams, and helped the Indians wins six division titles.

The Indians made Vizquel the 40th member of the team's Hall of Fame.

"It's very few chances you have to be a part of a Hall of Fame," Vizquel said. "I think it's a [prestigious] thing for many players that you can even mention to be in such a home, especially with all the great players that have been in the organization for a long time. I'm very honored."

Brantley returns to Tribe's starting lineup

LAA@CLE: Booth on potential cause of Brantley's exit

CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona was happy to write Michael Brantley's name back into the starting lineup on Saturday night. Concussions are nothing to take lightly and Cleveland is counting its blessings that their left fielder was not more seriously hurt earlier this week.

Brantley was struck in the head by Angels infielder John McDonald while sliding into second base in the third inning of Monday's game in Cleveland. The Tribe's left fielder exited the game in the fourth and missed two games with a mild concussion.

"He's OK. So, that's important," Francona said on Saturday. "But when you're talking about the head, you've got to be careful."

Brantley passed initial concussion tests and the severity of his ailment was deemed low enough to avoid a trip to Major League Baseball's seven-day concussion list. He returned to full activity on Friday, when he came off the bench and delivered a pinch-hit single in the ninth inning of the Indians' 6-4 loss to the Tigers.

Francona felt it was good to give Brantley an at-bat prior to rejoining the lineup on Saturday.

"I thought it would help," Francona said. "I was actually trying to win the game, but I thought it was twofold. I wanted to get him back to game action before he goes in there today. He ended up finding a way to get a hit, which isn't surprising."

Heading into Saturday's game, Brantley was riding a nine-game hitting streak and was batting .407 with a 1.071 OPS through 16 games in June. Dating back to April 28, when Brantley's season average dipped to a season-low .253, the left-handed hitter has posted a .366 average to go along with a 1.003 OPS through 44 games.

On the season, Brantley entered Saturday batting .326 with 11 homers, 17 doubles, one triple, 46 RBIs, nine stolen bases and 49 runs through 70 games. At the moment, Brantley appears to be Cleveland's top All-Star candidate.

"He means so much to what we're doing," Francona said. "So, having him back is nice -- all the way around. Defensively, teammate wise, in the batting order, he's really turned himself into one of the better players in the game."

Indians host regional Pitch, Hit & Run event

CLEVELAND -- The Indians hosted a regional team championship competition as part of Major League Baseball's annual Pitch, Hit & Run program on Saturday morning before the Tribe's evening tilt with the Tigers.

The event, sponsored by Scott's, is free to the 600,000 children who have participated nationwide, and it featured the top 12 boy and girl qualifiers from northern Ohio -- ranging from 7 to 14 years old -- competing against each other in a variety of on-field activities in front of friends and family members.

Winners from the Indians' Pitch, Hit & Run competition included Ella Voigt, Nicolina Pezzone, Alexis Powelson, Ryan Walsh, Caden Slusher, Gavin Markel and Austin Patterson, who were all honored in front of Saturday's sellout crowd at Progressive Field.

Those entrants with the three highest scores in their respective age-group divisions will have the chance to compete in the national finals, which will take place at the 2014 All-Star Game in Minneapolis.

This year's national finalists will be announced on MLB Network on June 29.

Quote to note

"You see his name and you don't run to the ballpark thinking you're going to get healthy. His stuff is still really good. The hope is that we can get him out of there before they want to get him out of there. That's kind of the whole idea."
--Francona, on Tigers starter Justin Verlander

Smoke signals

• Indians catcher Yan Gomes threw out a pair of would-be basestealers in Friday's loss to the Tigers, increasing his caught-stealing rate to 33 percent (16-of-48). Gomes also entered Saturday with no errors in his past 34 games (286 total chances) compared to nine errors in his first 29 games (249 chances).

"The first [few] weeks was really tough on him," Francona said. "We came out of camp, and for whatever reason, he wasn't throwing very well. It started to wear on him, I think, a little bit, because he cares so much. And now, he's back to being that force and it's a nice feeling."

• Entering Saturday, Cleveland's Carlos Santana was hitting .333 (20-for-60) with five homers, 15 RBIs, 16 walks and a 1.137 OPS over his past 18 games, dating back to May 22. During that period, Santana's OPS ranked second in the Majors to only the Angels' Mike Trout (1.262), among hitters with at least 75 plate appearances.

• On Saturday, the Indians announced that they had signed left-hander Sam Hentges, who was selected in the fourth round of the First-Year Player Draft earlier this month out of Mounds View High School (Minn.). Cleveland has now signed 26 of its 42 selections, including 13 of the club's first 15 picks.