CLEVELAND -- A month ago, Lou Marson had a .080 batting average. The Indians catcher had only two hits in 25 at-bats after going 0-for-4 on May 15.
Even though he was struggling, Marson started to get more opportunities when Cleveland was bit by the injury bug. Starting catcher Carlos Santana missed eight games with a concussion, and Marson got more regular at-bats.
With the extra playing time, the hits have started coming. Marson is 12-for-30 with three RBIs in his last 11 games, and his average was all the way up to .246 entering Friday's game against the Pirates. He was 9-for-23 (.391) with three RBIs in seven June games.
"Any time you can get more at-bats, you kind of have a better feel for the strike zone and what you wanna do," Marson said. "You have a consistent approach at the plate, rather than just going up there and swinging if you get a fastball. I can't hit like that.
"I feel like I've kind of been in control of my at-bats. Before, I was just trying to do too much and not being in control of the at-bat. I feel good now. I don't really want to talk about it or think about it, I just want to play the game and do well."
Marson's recent success at the plate gives manager Manny Acta more options with his lineup. He can move Santana to first base or use him as a designated hitter more often without feeling like he's losing offense at the catcher position. Acta can also use Marson as a right-handed pinch-hitter, something he would be unlikely to do a month ago.
Hannahan activated from disabled list
CLEVELAND -- Third baseman Jack Hannahan returned to the Indians' lineup Friday after missing 16 straight games with a strained left calf. The Indians activated Hannahan from the 15-day disabled list prior to Friday's game against the Pirates. To make room for Hannahan, Cleveland optioned left-hander Scott Barnes to Triple-A Columbus.
Hannahan started at third base and batted ninth in the order, going 0-for-3.
"I feel like I've been out forever," Hannahan said. "It's always exciting to get back and start competing back with the guys. I've been feeling a lot better, and I'm just excited to fire it up again."
Hannahan was previously out for 11 games with a back injury before heading to the DL. He played against the White Sox on May 26 and had bruising on his calf the next day. At the time, Hannahan said the injury occurred because he was overcompensating for his ailing back.
Now that he's back, Indians manager Manny Acta wants to be careful with Hannahan to make sure he stays healthy. With designated hitter Travis Hafner still on the DL, the Indians have the luxury of keeping both Lonnie Chisenhall and Jose Lopez on the active roster to ease Hannahan back.
"He's not going to get out there and play every day from the get-go," Acta said. "We're still going to have to be cautious bringing him along. We're just happy to have him back."
Prior to the injuries, Hannahan was having a strong start to the season. Entering Friday, he was hitting .276 with six doubles, three home runs and 18 RBIs in 31 games.
Barnes made four appearances with the Indians during his stint in Cleveland. He didn't allow a single hit in his first three outings (four innings), but he got pounded for five runs in only one-third of an inning Thursday at Cincinnati.
Acta said Barnes was going to be sent down regardless of what happened Thursday after the team acquired reliever Esmil Rogers from Colorado on Tuesday.
"We like Scotty," Acta said. "It's part of the process. ... He's going to be part of the future. I'm sure I'm going to be seeing him again this year."
Top picks Naquin, Brown agree to terms
CLEVELAND -- The Indians wasted little time signing their top two picks from last week's First-Year Player Draft.
With the July 13 signing deadline still nearly a month away, Cleveland agreed to terms with both outfielder Tyler Naquin and pitcher Mitch Brown on Friday. Both Naquin and Brown were at Progressive Field before Friday night's game against the Pirates.
Both players will leave Saturday to begin a short season in the Minor Leagues. Naquin will head to Class A Mahoning Valley and Brown will go to Rookie League Arizona.
"We were fortunate to be able to get both Mitch and Tyler signed and out playing," said Indians scouting director Brad Grant. "To get both of these guys out and starting to develop now, and get a full short season in is definitely an advantage to both of them."
Naquin, the 15th overall pick out of Texas A&M, will receive a $1.75 million signing bonus. He hit .380 with 18 doubles, six triples, three home runs and 49 RBIs in 61 games for the Aggies last season. The Indians plan to develop him as a center fielder.
"You dream about it as a kid," Naquin said. "To make it come true -- it's an unbelievable experience. The journey doesn't stop here. ... The goal is just to work your way up as fast as you can and play hard."
Brown, a right-handed high school player from Minnesota, will receive an $800,000 signing bonus. He was named the Minnesota Baseball Gatorade Player of the Year for Rochester Century High School after going 7-1 with a 0.91 ERA last season.
Brown was signed to play for San Diego State, but he felt like it was the right time to make the jump to professional baseball.
"I feel this gives me the best opportunity to advance as quickly as possible," Brown said. "College is maybe more suitable for someone growing into their body. Physically, I'm more mature than kids my age and I just felt like the Major League route was the way to go for me."
The Indians have now signed 12 of their 40 Draft picks, overall.
Quote to note
"They're always beating up on my Twins, so I know them from that."
--Indians second-round pick Mitch Brown, a Minnesota native, on how much he knows about the organization.
• The Indians sent catcher Luke Carlin to Triple-A Columbus on Friday. Carlin was designated for assignment on Tuesday to make room on the 40-man roster for pitcher Esmil Rogers, who the Indians acquired in a trade with Colorado.
• Center fielder Michael Brantley entered Friday's game against the Pirates with a career-best 21-game hitting streak. The streak is the longest in the Majors this season, and the longest for an Indians hitter since Casey Blake hit safely in 26 straight games in 2007.
• Cleveland entered Friday's game just 3-6 in Interleague Play this season. The Indians went 11-7 against National League teams last year.
• Shin-Soo Choo's two home runs against the Reds on Thursday were his first homers since May 24 against Detroit. Choo led off that game with a shot off Tigers ace Justin Verlander.
Justin Albers is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.