CLEVELAND -- Vinnie Pestano came out of the trainer's room and headed to his locker following Sunday's 4-2 win over the Rangers. At the stall next to his inside the Indians' clubhouse, second baseman Jason Kipnis was surrounded by reporters

Pestano could not believe what he was hearing.

"They wanted to talk about how bad Yu Darvish was," Pestano said. "They didn't want to talk about how good our hitters' plans were against him. All they wanted to worry about was how bad the Rangers were -- not how good we were. That upset me."

The Indians entered this season believing they could contend for a spot in the postseason, and 26 games into the season, the team sits atop the American League Central standings. Cleveland took two out of the three over the weekend against the Rangers, who have reached the World Series in each of the past two seasons.

The Tribe is starting to feel that it is time for fans and reporters to start buying into the Indians.

"We expect to be able to beat good teams," Pestano said. "If we're going to go where this team wants to go, then we're going to have to beat those teams. We're going to have to go through those teams to get to the World Series. We're going to have to go through the Tigers, the Rangers, the Yankees, the Rays. The Orioles are playing really good baseball this year.

"You just never know where teams are going to come from and you can't take anybody for granted, but when a team goes to the World Series back-to-back years and they're one of the best teams in the AL, [that says something]."

Indians manager Manny Acta was encouraged by the series win over Texas.

"We're not here to make statements," Acta said. "We're here to win ballgames. But it was good, because they are probably the best team in the American League and because the last couple of years we've really had a hard time winning against them."

Changes in delivery working for Ubaldo

CLEVELAND -- The Indians understand that there is an adjustment period when a pitcher is asked to alter his mechanics. Ubaldo Jimenez will need time to work through his current transition, but Cleveland has been encouraged by the early results.

In Sunday's 4-2 win over Texas, Jimenez held a potent Rangers lineup to no runs on two hits over seven innings. The outing still included a level of inconsistency, but there were also signs of progress for the right-hander.

"It's going to take time," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "But obviously the consistency on his velocity and the improvement of the command as the game went on is part of it."

Jimenez issued five walks -- upping his American League-leading total to 25 on the season -- but he also set season highs in strikeouts (six), swinging strikes (12) and called strikes (24). For the most part, Jimenez kept his fastball around 90-94 throughout his entire outing instead of seeing his velocity diminish in the later innings.

Over the past two weeks, Jimenez has worked on tweaking some mechanical flaws discovered when pitching coach Scott Radinsky compared 2010 footage to video taken from the past two seasons. One adjustment includes being more consistent with the angle of his lead shoulder in his delivery.

"It takes them to see it instead of you just grabbing them and telling them," Acta said. "It was very significant and it got his attention right away and he went to work on it with Rad. It's going to take repetition. That's why Rad asked for a couple outings. It's been two and he's shown some improvement.

"Hopefully he continues to do it and knows what to look for if it gets into that rut."

Damon doesn't affect Sizemore's schedule

CLEVELAND -- On the surface, it would seem that the signing of veteran Johnny Damon buys the Indians more time to take a conservative approach with Grady Sizemore's comeback from his lower back surgery.

Tribe manager Manny Acta said the two situations are not related.

"Grady is Grady," Acta said on Monday. "Grady has his schedule to rehab, and there are no names attached to the side."

As far as his rehab goes, Sizemore continues to make strides behind the scenes. Acta indicated that the sidelined center fielder is currently on pace to begin hitting in soft-toss sessions when the team begins its next homestand on May 16. Joining the ballclub for pregame batting practice on the field would likely come shortly thereafter, barring any setbacks.

Sizemore is eligible to be activated from the 60-day disabled list on June 3.

Prior to the start of Spring Training, Sizemore injured his lower back during fielding drills and underwent surgery on March 1. The initial timetable for recovery was two to three months, according to the Indians. It marks the sixth surgery (both knees, two hernia prodcedures, left elbow and back) in the past four years for Sizemore.

Cleveland signed the 38-year-old Damon on April 17, adding another experienced outfielder to the fold. Since joining the Major League club on Tuesday, Damon has primarily served as the team's left fielder, with Michael Brantley in center field and Shin-Soo Choo in right.

Kelli Andres named Tribe's honorary bat girl

CLEVELAND -- The Indians know that there are more important victories than the ones that take place on a baseball diamond. That is why the ballclub plans on honoring Kelli Andres with a special pregame ceremony on Mother's Day this Sunday.

Andres -- who is from Sylvania, Ohio -- has beaten cancer twice and has dedicated much of her life to helping others take on the disease. On Sunday, Andres will be recognized as one of Major League Baseball's honorary bat girls as part of the Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer initiative that is celebrated each Mother's Day.

Each team will have an honoree, who will receive pink MLB merchandise and will be allowed to observe batting practice on the field prior to a pregame ceremony. Each winner was selected by a guest judging panel that includes MLB players and celebrities in addition to fan votes cast on HonoraryBatGirl.com.

Once again this season, MLB players will use pink bats provided by Louisville Slugger and sport pink gear to help raise awareness for breast cancer.

Andres -- a mother of two sons -- is currently cancer-free after surviving breast cancer in 2010 and bone cancer when she was 12 years old. Andres has taken part in multiple fundraising programs and has served as the captain of Team Andrews for Susan G. Komen for the Cure in Northwest, Ohio. Her team consists of nearly 60 family and friends and has raised more than $4,000.

Quote to note

"It was significant, because our pitching staff was able to keep those guys in check a little bit. That's why it was encouraging, because those guys can just run the score up on you in a heartbeat."
-- Indians manager Manny Acta, on the series win over the Rangers

Smoke signals

• Right-hander Zach McAllister was officially recalled from Triple-A Columbus for Monday's doubleheader against the White Sox. Under Major League Baseball's new Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams can carry a 26th player for a doubleheader. No subsequent transaction is needed to add the player to the roster.

• Indians closer Chris Perez has notched 11 saves in the Tribe's first 15 wins of the season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Perez has equaled a franchise record for fewest team wins at the point of reaching 11 saves. Doug Jones also had 11 saves in the club's first 15 wins in 1990.

• Entering Monday, the Indians' bullpen had combined to strand 21 percent (34 of 42) of inherited runners this season. That mark was the third-best rate in the Majors. Right-handed setup man Vinnie Pestano has led the charge by stranding all 10 of his inherited runners this year.