How valuable are the Indians’ bench players?

It’s not just the flashy stuff, like Ryan Raburn hitting four home runs in two games. Mike Aviles, Jason Giambi and Raburn, the Tribe’s three-man corps of reserves (Lou Marson has been hurt), have contributed important hits so often that they seem like everyday players.

That’s part of the secret: Raburn, Aviles and Giambi have been regulars in the past.

Raburn is batting .329 with 11 RBI in 22 games.

“He had that great week, that’s why we’re talking about him,” manager Terry Francona said Friday.

“But my opinion of him would be the same if he were hitting .220.”

Francona was making two points: Raburn has been a professional hitter for most of his career, until an awful skid last year induced the Detroit Tigers to release him, and Raburn doesn’t have to bat .329 to be of value.

How often is a guy on the bench recognized as American League Player of the Week, as Raburn was recently?

No wonder Francona isn’t afraid to use Raburn, Aviles and Giambi whenever the need arises, whether an everyday player is hurt or needs a day off.

Aviles plays shortstop and third base and can be spotted in the outfield; Raburn plays both corner outfield positions and second base, so there is no hesitation to call on them to replace a player in a batting skid.

Because all three players are adept at the plate, the chance for a regular to fall into a lengthy slump has diminished. Last year, former manager Manny Acta was forced to stick with a struggling hitter longer than he wanted because his reserves were far less talented.

“I would look at it more like getting a guy off his legs for a while; I prefer to say it that way than the other way,” Francona said, not wanting to frame the proposition.