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Sizemore forced to give in to elbow pain

By Sheldon Published: May 31, 2009

    CLEVELAND: What was an injury described as less than trivial a week ago put Grady Sizemore on the15-day disabled list Sunday. ¶
   The Indians' center fielder was placed on the DL with synovitis in his left elbow, that is, inflammation of the synovial membrane, which lines various joints in the body. It can be painful, especially with movement of the joint, and is treated with anti-inflammatory drugs. ¶
  Synovitis can be caused by many things, including a blow to the area or an infection. ¶
  ""Awe couldn't take it any further with Grady,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ""We DHed him for as week and for a couple of days he was feeling better, then it leveled off and didn't get any better. ¶
   ""Now, we'll let it calm down. He won't swing a bat for a couple of weeks. Toward the end of that time, he'll start swinging again.''  ¶
  Taking the place of Sizemore on the roster was Chris Gimenez, called up from Columbus late Saturday night. ¶
   ""They called at 11:30 or 12,'' Gimenez said. ""It was as pleasant phone call, that's for sure.'' ¶
   Gimenez is making his first trip to the majors and was told by Wedge to be ready to use various gloves. ¶
   ""He said I could do a little of everything,'' Gimenez said. ""Victor (Martinez) is a little dinged up, so I'm backing up Shoppy (Kelly Shoppach) behind the plate, but I'm supposed to be ready to play left field and first base, too.'' ¶
   At Columbus, Gimenez played 24 games at catcher,11 in left and three at first. ¶
   Martinez suffered a contusion of the left knee when he fouled a pitch off his leg Saturday night. ¶
   ""I can't play today, but I thought it would feel much worse than it does,'' Martinez said. ""We'll see how it is tomorrow.'' ¶
   Martinez insisted on completing his plate appearance Saturday night, and when he grounded to second base he limped halfway down the first baseline and stopped. ¶
   ""I wasn't thinking about anything, I was just in a lot of pain,'' he said., ""I said, "Let me just finish the at-bat.' I tried to see if I could get going again.'' ¶
   Gimenez has been catching for little more than a year, but that is the position Tribe operatives want him to master, while not forgetting how to play the outfield and first base. ¶
   Last year, Gimenez, 26, batted .339 in 55 games at Akron and .272 in 54 games at Buffalo. He got a slow start this season. ¶
   ""I've been doing a lot better lately,'' he said. ""When I started the season, I was the worst hitter in baseball. But last month, I started to figure something out. ¶
   ""I was putting too much pressure on myself instead of letting the game come to me. I was swinging at a lot of pitches I shouldn't be swinging at.'' ¶
   Gimenez, with a .235 overall average, batted .289 in May and .339 in his past 16 games. ¶
   NOT AGAIN -- Rafael Betancourt is likely to expand the Indians' disabled list to eight players, after suffering a strained groin on his third pitch of the game in the eighth inning. ¶
   ""I would say it's a potential DL situation,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ¶
   ""The last couple of days I felt it a little bit,'' Betancourt said. ""Today, when I threw that last pitch, I felt a pop and a lot of pain, too. ¶
    ""My arm has been feeling fine, and I was pitching pretty good, but now I have to deal with this. I don't know if it will be two weeks or how much time.'' ¶
   DON'T ASK ME -- Anthony Reyes will visit Dr. Lewis Yocum Tuesday in Los Angeles. He is expected to undergo surgery on his right elbow before he returns to Cleveland. ¶
   What specifically will Yocum repair? ""I know nothing,'' Reyes said Sunday. ¶
   HAFNER SWINGING AGAIN -- Travis Hafner missed Saturday's game with Columbus because a recurrence of soreness in his right shoulder, but he was back in the lineup as the designated hitter on Sunday, going 0-for-4. ¶
   OTHER STUFF -- The Tribe was 14-16 in May, following an 8-14 record in April. *elip Jhonny Peralta's game-winning single was his third career walk-off hit and fourth walk-off RBI. Peralts batted .319 with one homer and 15 RBI in May. *elip Ben Francisco stole his ninth base of the season; he's been thrown out only once. *elip Kelly Shoppach struck out four times Sunday and has gone down on strikes seven times in his past nine at-bats. ¶
   FARM FACTS -- Joe Smith made his first appearance in Columbus on his rehab assignment and pitched one scoreless inning, giivng up one hit, one walk and striking out one. *elip Lucas Montero tripled and singled, driving in one run, but Kinston lost 8-3 to Winston-Salem. *elip T.J. House gave up one run, six hits and two walks in 61/3 innings, as Lake County beat West Virginia 2-1. Donnie Webb drove in a run with a double and single, and Abner Abreu hit his sixth home run of the season. ¶

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Sizemore headed to the DL

By jcfortun Published: May 31, 2009

For the first time in his career Indians centerfielder Grady Sizemore will be on the Disabled List. A bothersome left elbow had restricted Sizemore to designated hitter duties over the last few weeks before pushing him to the 15-day disabled list with left elbow synovitis (inflammation) Sunday. 

Taking Sizemore's place on the 25-man roster will be utility player Chris Gimenez, who is being called up from Triple A Columbus.

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Tribe Scouting Director gives scoop on upcoming draft

By sstorm Published: May 30, 2009

The following are a few insights on the upcoming June 9th major league baseball draft according to Indians scouting director Brad Grant.

Grant, who met with reporters before Saturday's Indians game against the visiting Yankees, said he personally saw approximately 175 players this past year and up to 350 by video. The Tribe's first pick is the 15th overall.

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Hafner shoulder soreness flairs up again

By Sheldon Published: May 30, 2009

   Travis Hafner again was stymied from continuing his rehab assignment Saturday night at Columbus because of a sore shoulder. ¶
   When it came time for him to bat in the first inning, Tony Graffanino pinch hit and struck out. ¶
   Before the Indians played the Yankees, manager Eric Wedge said, ""Hafner is a little sore today, so we'll see how that works out tonight for him and go from there. He has until Wednesday to finish his rehab assignment.'' ¶
   Hafner underwent surgery to repair his right shoulder last October. He went through spring training without suffering a setback and began the season in the lineup. However, Hafner's shoulder began to hurt, and he went on the disabled list April 29. ¶
   He was expected to be activated before the end of his 20-day rehabilitation assignment, but his back began to ache last week and he returned to Cleveland for two days. He resumed playing in Columbus on Thursday, with the idea of appearing in three games at DH then being activated. ¶
   Wedge was confident that Hafner would return to the Columbus lineup today. ¶
  ""More than likely, he'll play tomorrow,'' the manager said. ¶
    GRADY STUCK AS DH? -- How long will Grady Sizemore be limited to designated hitter duty because of his sore left elbow? ¶
   ""I talked to Grady today,'' Wedge said. ""It definitely feels better because he's been staying away from (throwing) the baseball. So we'll still play it day by day. ¶
   ""Basically, there are three choices: He goes back to playing center field, continues to DH or he goes on the disabled list.'' ¶
   The possibility of Sizemore landing on the DL had not been mentioned before. ¶
   PERALTA POWER FAILURE -- Going into Saturday night's game against the Yankees, Jhonny Peralta had only one home run, compared to 11 for the first two months of last season. ¶
   ""I just think he's been struggling early offensively,'' Wedge said. ""The power is still in there. He's hitting the ball the other way, so I think we'll be seeing good things happen soon.'' ¶
   LOSING A SPOT -- When it comes their time to make a choice, the Indians will have the 15th rather than the 14th pick in the draft that runs from June 9-11. ¶
   ""Because Washington failed to sign their first pick last year, they get the ninth pick and we were pushed down one spot,'' explained Brad Grant, director of minor-league scouting, who will conduct the draft for the Tribe. ""We have the 63rd (overall) pick in the second round then the 14th in every round after that.'' ¶
   Television has altered the format of the draft this year, with the first three rounds scheduled to be aired on the MLB network beginning at 6 p.m. June 9. The next 20 rounds will take place June 10 and the final 27 the next day. ¶
   Grant said the strength of the draft is pitching depth, though he did not suggest that Cleveland has singled out pitching as its draft day priority. ¶
   FARM FACTS -- Chris Gimenez hit his sixth home run of the season, doubled and singled, but Columbus lsot 13-2 to Norfolk. *elip Cord Phelps hit his first homer of the year, driving in two runs, in Kinston's 5-2 win over Salem. Lonnie Chisenhall had two hits, and Paolo Espino (1-1, 1.13 ERA) gave up two runs and three hits in seven innings. *elip Abner Abreu lifted his average to .290 with his fifth home run of the season and two singles, as Lake County defeated Greensboro 5-1.  -- Sheldon Ocker ¶

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5-30-09 Morning RoundUp

By jcfortun Published: May 30, 2009

I always hate it when the Yankees win. No, not because I hate the Yankees that much. It's just that the New York headlines seem like it is the end of the world when they lose, much to my amusement.

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Sabathia back in Cleveland, Lofgren up to Columbus, Edwards in the house

By sstorm Published: May 29, 2009

C.C. Sabathia met with local media Friday, a day before he's scheduled to take the Progressive Field mound in pinstripes for the first time against his former teammates.

Through his first 10 starts Sabathia is 4-3 with a 3.42 ERA, including two complete games and a shutout. Yet, it hasn't been until his last four starts that he's really settled into a groove.

Sabathia has pitched through at least the seventh inning in every outing over that span and picked up three of his four wins while allowing no more than three runs.

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Tribe cuts Dellucci loose

By Sheldon Published: May 29, 2009

   CLEVELAND: The timing of the move was something of a surprise, but it almost was inevitable that David Dellucci would not finish the season with the Indians. ¶
  The 35-year-old outfielder was designated for assignment Friday to make room for lefty reliever Rafael Perez, called up from Columbus. ¶
   ""It was time,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ""David is such a pro, but he had some tough times over here. He helped other people get better. But there were other players ahead of him, and he wasn't getting much playing time.'' ¶
   Dellucci appeared in only 14 games, compiling a .275 batting average with three doubles and one RBI in 40 at-bats. ¶
   He got a slow start in spring training after slamming the rear hatch of his SUV on his hand. As much as he struggled when he was healthy, Dellucci too often rode the bench because of one injury or another, not just this year but in 2007. ¶
   ""David was banged up a lot,'' Wedge said. ""Every time he would start to get it going, he'd hit a bump in the road. He didn't have a great deal of good fortune over here.'' ¶
   Dellucci signed a three-year, $11.5 million contract in December of 2006. The plan was for him and Jason Michaels to share left field, with Dellucci, the left-handed portion of the platoon, getting more at-bats because he would be facing right-handed pitchers. ¶
    Michaels upheld his end of the bargain, but Dellucci never could sustain consistency at the plate. In 2007, he batted .230 with four homers and 20 RBI in 178 at-bats, missing much of the season with a hamstring tear. The next year, he batted .238 with 11 home runs and 47 RBI in 336 at-bats. ¶
   When spring training began this year, it was clear that Dellucci was barely in Wedge's plans as the fourth outfielder. When Dellucci came off the disabled list on May 1, in the middle of the team's deep slump, he said his primary goal was turn pessimism to optimism in the clubhouse. ¶
   He knew by that time that he would not see much of the field, with Wedge already using Ben Francisco, Mark DeRosa, Ryan Garko, Shin-Soo Choo and later Matt LaPorta at his position. Dellucci started only one game in left. ¶
   The Tribe still owes Dellucci about $2.75 million of his $4 milliion salary. If he is traded before the 10-day period specified when a player is designated for assignment, the Indians likely will have to pay most of or all the money to Dellucci's new team. ¶
   BULKED UP PEN - Rafael Perez rejoined the Indians Friday after spending three weeks in Columbus making corrections to his mechanics and regaining his confidence. ¶
   ""We've really taxed our bullpen lately,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ""They've been pitching four or five innings a night. We needed another arm down there, and Rafael accomplished what he needed to do.'' ¶
   Perez and Jensen Lewis started the season as co-setup men in what Tribe operatives felt was a lockdown bullpen. Instead, both pitchers struggled. In 13 appearances, Perez posted a 15.19 earned-run average with opposing hitters batting .422 against him. ¶
   In seven games at Triple-A, Perez did not allow a run in nine innings, giving up nine hits and three walks. He struck out nine and had a .257 batting average against. ¶
   ""He needed to pitch,'' Wedge said.  ""The way he was going, we couldn't leave him out there to pitch a couple innings, 30-35 pitches.'' ¶
   HOW LONG? -- For the second time this season, the Tribe has an eight-man bullpen, but for how long? ¶
   ""We'll run through the weekend with it,'' Wedge said. ""Then we'll see.'' ¶
   REYES UPDATE -- Anthony Reyes (sore elbow) has yet to make his scheduled trip to Southern California to see Dr. Lewis Yocum, but that will happen next week .¶
   ""He probably will need surgery,'' Wedge said. If he does, Yocum will perform the operation before Reyes returns to Cleveland. ¶
   GUEST BP SWINGER -- Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards took batting practice with the Indians Friday and hit one ball over the wall in left. ¶
   ""I played baseball in high school, when I was 16,'' Edwards said. ""It was all football after that.'' ¶
   One reporter joked about Edwards becoming a two-sport start, like Bo Jackson. ¶
   To that, Edwards said, ""I might have to talk to (head coach) Eric Mangini. Maybe I should do this more often. Actually, I didn't want to get in anybody's way.'' ¶
   FARM FACTS -- Travis Hafner doubled in three at-bats in Columbus' 6-4 win over Charlotte. Michael Brantley hit his second home run of the year and drove in two runs. *elip Abner Abreu had two hits and one RBI in Lake County's 4-1 win over Greensboro. Karexon Sanchez singled and had two RBI. ¶

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Indians designate Dellucci, recall Perez

By Dan Published: May 29, 2009

Here is the Associated Press story, followed by reaction from the blogsphere.

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Huff makes most of third start

By Sheldon Published: May 28, 2009

   CLEVELAND: It was touch and go for awhile. ¶
   In David Huff's first two major-league starts, he gave up 13 runs in 62/3 innings. Manager Eric Wedge figured the Indians had enough problems without having to put up with the severe growing pains of a raw rookie, so he thought about it for a few days before giving Huff another start. ¶
   But Wedge made the right decision. Huff's start on Thursday was cut short by a two-hour, 40-minute rain delay, but he showed why he is one of the franchise's more promising prospects, delivering four scoreless innings while allowing four hits and a walk. ¶
   ""He was behind in the count for most of the day, but that says a lot about his stuff,'' Wedge said. ""He worked out of some tough situations. Evidentally, he's becoming more composed in each start.'' ¶
   Huff put the leadoff batter on base three times and three times pitched out of trouble with runners in scoring position. ¶
   ""What I need to start doing is throw first pitch strikes,'' Huff said. ""I can't keep falling behind in the count. That only makes my job harder. ¶
   ""It's a big confidence builder (to get out of jams), but it's also a big disappointment having those guys on base. It shouldn't happen. It's definitely a relief to leave those guys out there, though.'' ¶
   Huff has begun to feel more comfortable pitching to major-league hitters in major-league venues. ¶
   ""I had much more adrenalin flowsing through my body the first time,'' he said. ""Now, the adrenalin is still there, but I can control it. Every time you go out there, you get more comfortable with everything.'' ¶
   The biggest difference between Thursday's start and his first two? ¶
   ""My execution was a lot better,'' Huff said. ""Before, I tried to execute pitches, and I couldn't do it. One thing, you don't look back That's when you start to struggle.'' ¶
   Huff also offered a cautionary word about his relationship to bad weather. ¶
   ""In Columbus, they called me Rain Man,'' he said. ""I think in my seven starts down there, six of them had rain delays or I had to deal with some kind of rain.'' ¶
   Even at the risk of a rain delay, Wedge said that Huff would get another start. ¶
   REVOLVING DOOR -- Zach Jackson got one start Wednesdy night and was sent back to Columbus. ¶
   In his place, right-hander Toma Ohka was summoned from Triple-A and will spend at least a few days in the bullpen. ¶
   Ohka was in the Clippers' rotation and compiled a 3-3 record and 3.42 earned-run average in nine starts. Opposing hitters batted .272 against him, and he averaged 11/2 walks per nine innings. ¶
   Ohka, 33, has pitched 89 games in the major leagues, (starting 81) with the Red Sox, Expos, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Brewers and Blue Jays. His last big-league appearance was June 6, 2007, pitching for Toronto. ¶
   ""He can give us some length,'' manager Eric Wedge said, adding that he did not contemplate using Ohka as a starter. ¶
   If and when Ohka gets an appearance, he will be the 22nd pitcher used by the Indians this season. ¶
   JUST LUCKY? -- Matt Herges had to face Evan Longoria with the tying run on second and two outs in the seventh but struck him out. ¶
   ""What I know about Longoria is that he's a lot better than I am,'' Herges said. ""I don't want to say I was lucky to get him out, but I was fortunate today.'' ¶
   SEE HOW THEY RUN -- In  eight games between the Tribe and Rays, Tampa Bay runners stole 18 bases in 19 attempts. ¶
   The only failure among the bunch was Akinori Iwamura, thrown out in the second game at Tropicana Field by Victor Martinez. A week later, Iwamura tore the ACL in his knee and will miss the rest of the season. ¶
   Twelve of the bases were stolen with Martinez behind the plate, six when Kelly Shoppach was catching, but that might be missing the point. Several of the steals were the fault of pitchers who failed to keep the speedy Rays from getting huge jumps. ¶
  Thirteen of the bases were stolen in the four games in St. Petersburg, and six of those runners scored. For the four-game set in Cleveland, the Rays stole only fiv2 bases, one runner scoring. ¶
  Tampa Bay leads the majors in steals with 81, 22 more than the second-place Angels and 33 more than the Mets, who lead the National League. ¶
   FARM FACTS -- Michael Aubrey homered and singled, driving in three runs, as Columbus defeated Charlotte 6-4. Andy Marte also had two hits and one RBI. *elip John Drennen tripled, singled and drove in three runs in Kinston's 7-5 win over Potomac. ¶

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Aeros split double header with Reading Thursday

By sstorm Published: May 28, 2009



KEY STATS: Aeros outfielder Nick Weglarz hit three home runs on the day and scored the tying run in Game One on a play at the plate in which he barreled into Reading's catcher to knock the ball loose.

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5-28-09 Morning RoundUp

By jcfortun Published: May 28, 2009

If only Ben Francisco could hit against Andy Sonnanstine at least 27 times a game.

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Aeros and Reading rained out; will play two Thursday morning

By sstorm Published: May 27, 2009

The Aeros game Wednesday night against visiting Reading (Philadelphia Phillies) was suspended due to inclement weather with two outs in the top of the third inning at Canal Park.

The Aeros led 1-0 on a Nick Weglarz lead-off home run to right field in the bottom of the second inning.

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Hafner could return in four days

By Sheldon Published: May 27, 2009

CLEVELAND: Once a chiropractor snapped his rib head into its original position, Travis Hafner's back quit hurting, and he was a happy Indians camper. ¶
   A simple process, according to Hafner. ¶
   ""You never heard of that?'' he said Wednesday. ""My rib head gets out of place. A chiropractor puts it back in. Cracks it back in place. It's no big deal.'' ¶
   Whether a rib head is a noun or some other part of speech, Hafner knows it when he feels it. ¶
   ""It's happened plenty of times before,'' he said. ""It's not something that makes me miss time or anything.'' ¶
   Not like his surgically repaired right shoulder that has plagued him for a year. Even after the operation, after Hafner had gone through heavy-duty therapy and played in spring training games, he experienced soreness early late last month and was put on the disabled list. ¶
   He was working his way back during a rehabilitation assignment at Columbus when the dreaded rib head thing flared up and he returned to Cleveland. ¶
   ""Now you tell me if this is back related,'' he said of a recent Triple-A road trip. ""Eight hours on a bus to Scranton, then on the off day I flew back here and the next day drove to Buffalo.''  ¶
   Hafner took btting practice Tuesday and Wednesday and is ready to resume hitting at Triple-A, though he has only seven more days to practice his swing in International League games before his rehab assignment expires. ¶
   But he expects to be activated and take his place as the Tribe's designated hitter before that. ¶
   ""Travis will go out tomorrow and play three games in a row,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ""After that, we'll look to get him back up here.'' ¶
   That means unless Hafner suffers a setback, he should be in the Indians' lineup Sunday or Monday. ¶
   Hafner thinks his swing and his batting eye have returned to normal. ¶
   ""When you first get out there, it's a little bit of a mess,'' he said. ""But afrter a couple of games, you get your timing back, and you start to see the ball better. ¶
    ""My swing feels really good right now. I'm having good at-bats and starting to get that consistency.'' ¶
   Is Wedge optimistic about Hafner's immediate future? ¶
   ""We'll see,'' the manager said, laughing then added, ""I still feel if Hafner can get ahead of everything physically, he can help us.'' ¶
   DOLAN HOSPITALIZED -- Tribe owner Larry Dolan, 78, suffered a mild heart attack in Cleveland this morning and has been hospitalized. According to a statement issued by the team, Dolan ""is resting comfortably and is in good spirits.'' ¶
   In 2000, Dolan purchased the club from Richard Jacobs for $323 million. He has his son, Paul, have taken an active role in operating the team, with Paul currently holding the office of president. ¶
   SIZEMORE STILL HURTING -- Grady Sizemore was penciled in again as the Tribe's DH Wednesday night, in deference to his sore left elbow. ¶
   ""I'll stay out of center field for awhile and see what happens,'' Sizemore said. ¶
   No name has been given to Sizemore's malady, and he isn't sure what to call it. ¶
   ""You have to ask the doctor,'' he said. ¶
   According to manager Eric Wedge, ""We're trying to get the elbow calmed down. It doesn't bother him as much when he swings as when he throws. It's more inflammation, and if we keep a baseball out of his hand, hopefully he'll rid himself of this.'' ¶
   ALL-STAR UPDATE -- Victor Martinez is second in the All-Star balloting for American League catchers (284,988 votes) to Joe Mauer (381,443) of the Twins. Grady Sizemore (252,231) is eighth among AL outfielders. The top three are Jason Bay (446,183) of the Red Sox, Josh Hamilton (442,553) of the Rangers and Ichiro Suzuki (306,453) of the Mariners. ¶
   PROMOTION NEAR --- Rafael Perez threw two scoreless innings for Columbus Tuesday night, running his string of shutout innings to nine in seven appearances. ¶
   ""He's been throwing the ball well and gaining some consistency,'' Wedge said. ""I think he's be coming back sooner rather than later.'' *elip Joe Smith, who has been throwing bullpens in Cleveland, probably will go on a brief rehab assignment this week. ¶
   IL HONOREE -- Columbus right fielder Jordan Brown has been named International League Batter of the Week for batting .519, hitting three home runs, amassing seven RBI and scoring six runs. ¶
   His overall average (.362) ranks third in the league, and his 15 doubles is second best in the IL. ¶
   FARM FACTS --  Josh Barfield doubled, singled and drove in two runs in Columbus' 7-5 win over Charlotte. Tony Graffanino had three hits and one RBI; Brown had two hits and one RBI. *elip Mark Thompson homered, singled and drove in three runs, as Lake County defeated Greensboro 8-4. Alexander Perez (3-2, 3.40 ERA) gave up one run and four hits in six innings. ¶

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5-27-09 Morning RoundUp

By jcfortun Published: May 27, 2009

last night's game became home run derby for the Tribe as they won 5-1.

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Aeros shutout 5-0 by visiting Reading

By sstorm Published: May 26, 2009


KEY STATS: Fresh off a perfect game in his last outing, Aeros starter Jeanmar Gomez was strictly pedestrian this time out. The right-hander gave up all of Reading's five runs (four earned) on a season-high eight hits and two walks as the Phillies cruised to their fifth consecutive win. The unearned run in third inning came on a Gomez fielding error.

"He was a little anxious out there," Aeros pitching coach Ruben Niebla said of Gomez. "But there's always a little bit of a hang over when you're coming off something so rare like that. Today he elevated some fastballs and they hit them right in the gap."

KEY MOMENTS: Reading spread out its offense among the third through fifth innings, recording a pair of runs in both the third and fourth frames while adding another in the fifth...Brian Stavisky hit a solo home run in the fourth inning as part of a series of three consecutive extra-base hits against Gomez.

STORM'S STARS: It was all Reading Tuesday as the Phillies offense pounded out 10 hits while the pitching staff increased its consecutive shutout streak to 18 innings with nine more scoreless frames in shutting out the Aeros a day after after blanking Altoona 6-0.

NOTES: Aeros shortstop Carlos Rivero injured his shin after colliding with left fielder Matt McBride on a ball hit to shallow left by Reading's Carlos Leon with two outs in the eighth inning. Although McBride was fine, Rivero remained on the ground for a few minutes and required a visit from trainer Michael Salazar before slowly walking off the field.

"He'll probably be a little sore, but he'll be alright," Aeros manager Mike Sarbaugh said.

Earlier in the action, Aeros catcher Carlos Santana was taken out of the game and replaced by back up Damaso Espino, but not because of an injury.

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Sowers looks for answers

By Sheldon Published: May 26, 2009

   CLEVELAND: Like many of the Indians, either because of necessity or in the name of versatility, Jeremy Sowers is playing out of position. ¶
   Sowers made his first big-league appearance as a reliever Monday night and pitched five shutout innings, giving up three hits and one walk to Tampa Bay. ¶
  In contrast to his two 2009 starts for the Tribe, there were no issues of control or throwing pitches in the hot areas of the strike zone. As a starter, Sowers was stung for 12 runs, 14 hits and six walks in only nine innings. ¶
   These numbers were enough to get his ticket punched to Columbus, where he began the season. But when starter Anthony Reyes and new reliever Aaron Laffey were injured in the same game over the weekend, Sowers was called up from Triple-A to help in the bullpen against the Rays. ¶
  Until he took advantage of an opportunity to pitch Monday night, Sowers also had been a candidate to start either tonight or Thursday. ¶
   The question with Sowers has always been the same: What keeps him from recapturing the magic that made him an overnight sensation in his rookie year of 2006? Sowers isn't quite sure, but he has a pretty good idea. ¶
   ""My command hasn't been what ity needs to be the last couple of years,'' he said. ""And that definitely doesn't help. There are a myriad of things I can blame for not putting the ball where I want, but I don't have a real explanation. Maybe I think too much.'' ¶
   Partly because Sowers matriculated at prestigious Vanderbilt university, and his vocabulary includes such words as ""myriad,'' he became known as a thinking man's pitcher, a guy who could analyze an opposing hitter in the moment and exploit the weaknesses he uncovered. ¶
   But when he struggled in 2007, people began saying he overanalyzed and over thought each situation. ¶
  ""Coming out of spring training, I was complicating things that I don't need to be complicating,'' Sowers said. ""I guess I need to get back to being aggressive. I did it Triple-A. Now I need to do it up here.'' ¶
   Sowers knows he can't stop thinking. It's a question of what he's thinking about. ¶
   ""When I'm out there on the mound, the game can speed up,'' he said. ""If I give up two doubles in the span of 10 pitches, I might think, "What the hell just happened?' It's important to eliminate those kinds of  thoughts. I still know what I want to do out there. It's just a matter of commanding the pitches.'' ¶
   GOODBYE, MATT -- Because Grady Sizemore's left elbow still hasn't stopped hurting, the Indians optioned Matt LaPorta back to Columbus and called up Trevor Crowe. ¶
   ""It was a combination of the things,'' said manager Eric Wedge in explaining the move. ""We want to continue to DH Grady for a few days and let his elbow calm down. Crowe can play center field, along with Ben (Francisco). ¶
   ""It's also time for Matt to go down and play every day. We want him to play first base plus left and right. I would like to see him at first a little more just because he needs more reps there.'' ¶
   LaPorta batted .190 with two doubles, one home run and four RBI in 13 games since being called up May 2. ¶
   ´´It's hard for a young player to get everyday at-bats unless he dives in with immediate success,'' Wedged said. ""Matt is a good athlete. He moves around well, and from an offensive standpoint he showed signs of what he's capable of. ¶
   ""But I don't know of anyone in this clubhouse who hasn't had to go back (to the minors) at least once. It's part of a player's development.'' ¶
   Asked about the severity of Sizemore's elbow injury, Wedge said, ""It's hanging around. I think we need to give it some time'' ¶
    PARTIAL ANSWER -- Wedge said that David Huff would start Thursday afternoon against the Rays, despite giving up 13 runs in 62/3 innings in his first two big-league starts. ¶
   ""We'll keep Jeremy in the bullpen for awhile, though he's not usable tonight (after throwing 56 Monday night), Wedge said. ¶
   Though the manager postponed his announcement of a starter for tonight's game, it probably will be Zach Jackson, whose last start for Columbus was Thursday, when he gave up three unearned runs and five hits in six innings. ¶
   Overall, Jackson has a 3-2 record and 3.09 ERA at Triple-A. ¶
   SECOND TIME AROUND -- Crowe made the team out of spring training but was optioned back to Columbus on May 2, at which time he was batting .182 in 12 games (33 at-bats).  ¶
   Since returning to Triple-A, he has batted .230 with one homers, six RBI and five steals in 21 games (74 at-bats). ¶
   NO PITCH LIMIT -- Monday's night's 11-10 comeback win by the Tribe featured 19 walks (10 by Rays pitchers) and 421 pitches (230 by Rays pitchers). No wonder the game lasted 3 hours, 51 minutes. ¶
   CLOCK IS RUNNING -- Travis Hafner (shoulder soreness) took batting practice at Progressive Field on Tuesday and is scheduled to do so again today, after which he will continue his rehab assignment at Columbus. ¶
   If he returns to the Triple-A team on Thursday, Hafner can spend a maximum of seven more days on rehab. After that, he will have to return to the DL or be activated. ¶
   FARM FACTS -- Michael Brantley doubled twice in Columbus' 11-1 defeat to Charlotte. ¶

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LaPorta sent down, Crowe recalled

By jcfortun Published: May 26, 2009

Cleveland Indians outfielder Matt LaPorta has been optioned to Triple A Columbus. Taking his place on the Indians roster will be outfielder Trevor Crowe, who is being optioned from Columbus.

LaPorta appeared in 13 games for the Tribe, hitting .190 with one home run in 42 at bats. LaPorta struck out 11 times and walked four times.

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Gomez easy pick for EL Pitcher of the Week Award

By sstorm Published: May 26, 2009

No surprise here, but Aeros right-hander Jeanmar Gomez was named the Eastern League's Pitcher of the Week for the period ending May 24th.

Gomez, a native of Caracas, VZ, threw the first perfect game in Aeros franchise history May 21 in a 3-0 victory over Trenton at Waterfront Park. It was just the second nine-inning perfect game in the 76-year history of the Eastern League, and was the first individual no-hitter in team history (there were two previous combined no-hitters).

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5-26-09 Morning RoundUp

By jcfortun Published: May 26, 2009

Could the Rays be cursed in Cleveland? The Indians come-from-behind 11-10 win marked the 14th consecutive time Tampa Bay has dropped a game at The Prog/Jacobs Field.

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Surgery for Reyes?

By Sheldon Published: May 25, 2009

    CLEVELAND: The Indians' injury situation continues to deteriorate. ¶
   It's a good bet that Anthony Reyes soon will undergo surgery and miss the rest of the season Moreover, Travis Hafner suffered a presumably minor setback that will delay his return to the active roster. ¶
   Reyes was forced to leave his last start on Friday after walking six in three innings. The next day, it was announced his problem was an inflamed elbow. ¶
   After an examination Monday by team doctor Mark Schickendantz and an MRI scan, the diagnosis is inflammation of the ulnar nerve, which probably will require surgery. ¶
   ""We feel that Reyes would benefit from a transposition of the nerve,'' head trainer Lonnie Soloff said. ¶
   That is, the nerve would be removed from its ""tunnel'' and placed in a position where it won't be ""trapped.'' ¶
   However, a non-surgical solution will not be ruled out until Reyes visits Dr. Lewis Yocum in Los Angeles for a second opinion later in the week. If an operation is performed, Reyes will be out of action from four to six months, missing the rest of this season. ¶
   After playing in six games at Columbus, Hafner interrupted his rehabilitation assignment to return to Cleveland, when he experienced tightness in the middle of his back during his third at-bat Sunday. ¶
   ""He will get treatment at the ballpark for the next 24 to 48 hours then return to his rehab assignment,'' Soloff said. ""We are hoping that he will take batting practice Tuesday and Wednesday. ¶
   ""I spoke to Travis and the medical staff at Columbus, and they don't think this is serious. It has nothing to do with his shoulder, and Travis has a history of back tightness that lasts for 24 to 48 hours. His removal from the game was precautionary.'' ¶
   Hafner's rehab assignment stemmed from shoulder surgery last October, followed by soreness in the shoulder late last month. ¶
   Aaron Laffey's injury has been diagnosed as as right oblique strain and probably will keep him off the mound from four to six weeks. ¶
   Other injury news is more optimistic. ¶
   Jake Westbrook (Tommy John surgery) will throw three innings (50 pitches) off the mound in two or three days. If there are no setbacks, he is expected to go on a rehab assignment the first week of June. ¶
   ""Historically, rehab (for Tommy John patients) lasts until they throw five innings or 80 pitches or six innings and 90 pitches,'' Soloff said. ""That would be four or five starts.'' ¶
   Joe Smith (right rotator cuff strain) threw a 40-pitch bullpen Monday. He is scheduled to throw a simulated game Wednesday and possibly go on a brief rehab assignment by the weekend. ¶
   NO DECISION -- Manager Eric Wedge has not determined whether David Huff will get another start or be sent back to Columbus. ¶
   ""We're still working through that,'' he said. ""Jeremy (Sowers) will be in the bullpen tonight but he will get one of the starts, either Wednesday or Thursday.'' ¶
   Wedge will not use the all-staff approach for either game, that is, stringing relief pitchers together. Nor, he said, will the Tribe call up a starter from below the Triple-A level. ¶
   Columbus' current starters: Jack Cassel, Toma Ohka, Kirk Saarloos and Zach Jackson. ¶
   JUST REWARDS -- Rays manager Joe Maddon was awarded with a three-year contract extension Monday, giving him security in the job through the 2012 season. ¶
   Maddon won several manager of the year awards in 2008, when Tampa Bay won its first American League pennant. ¶
   FARM FACTS -- Jordan Brown homered twice, singled twice and drove in two runs, but Buffalo beat Columbus 5-3. Brown was named International League Player of the Week. Rafael Perez pitched a scoreless inning, running his total to seven shutout innings in six appearances. *elip Nate Recknagel homered an drove in two runs in Kinston's 7-5 loss to Frederick. *elip T.J. House worked six scoreless innings, allowing two hits and one walk while striking out seven, as Lake County defeated West Virginia 3-2. ¶

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Aeros use 7-run inning to top Erie Monday

By sstorm Published: May 25, 2009


KEY STATS: Aeros catcher Carlos Santana smashed his team-leading seventh home run of the season to left-center field in the second inning, as he went 1-for-2 with the homer, an RBI, two runs scored and two walks while raising his season batting average to .306.

KEY MOMENTS: The Aeros used their biggest inning of the season to spark them to the win - a seven-run sixth inning against Erie starter Luis Marte. Marte entered the frame with the game tied 1-1. But two ground-rule doubles, back-to-back two-run singles and a pair of errors along with a fielder's choice did him in as the Aeros batted around and sent 12 men to the plate.

STORM'S STAR: Aeros starting pitcher Hector Rondon improved to 6-2 and lowered his ERA to 2.08 by limiting the hot-hitting SeaWolves to one run on three hits through six innings. While he did not have his trademark control in issuing a season-high four walks, he threw strikes when he needed to get of trouble.

NOTES: Erie left fielder Joe Tucker got his second start of the series Monday with a another large group of fans in attendance for support for the visiting player. Tucker, a former Canton Central Catholic and Kent State product, was drafted by Detroit in 2006 and is in just his third professional season. Tucker started the season at high Class-A Lakeland in the Florida State League. In 19 games with Erie he's batting .235 (12-for-51) with three doubles, a home runs, five RBI and 11 runs scored.

* The 9,118 fans who took in the Aeros game on the beautiful holiday afternoon made it into the record books as the sixth largest crowd in Canal Park history. Not only was the game a ticket buyout by Subway, but a walk-up crowd of 1,150 helped pack the park to the brim. The big crowd also had a hand in two fan interference calls in the Aeros big seven-run sixth inning, including Beau Mills' lead-off shot to the right field wall that was called a grond-rule double after a fan reached out of the bleachers and grabbed it.

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Have mask, will play first

By Sheldon Published: May 24, 2009

   CINCINNATI: It's hard to get away with anything if you're part of a major-league clubhouse. [ep
   In the seventh inning of the Indians' 7-6 win over the Reds Saturday night, Jonny Gomes slapped spinning ground ball toward first that bounced off Mark DeRosa's shin for an error. Sunday morning, DeRosa found a hockey stick, goalie mask and pads in his locker. [ep
   ""They (teammates) thought I should be a goalie,'' he said. ""They said I looked like a goalie.'' [ep
  Can DeRosa skate?
   ""Actually, I can skate a little bit,'' he said. [ep
   He also can play third base, second base, left field, right field and now, first base, a little bit. [ep
   Manager Eric Wedge has used him four times as a starter at first. His play won't make anyone forget Keith Hernandez or Eddie Murray in their prime, but Wedge feels that he does the job well enough. [ep
   ""He's had to work a little bit harder at first,'' the manager said. ""And he's had a couple of tough plays there.'' [ep
   DeRosa takes switching positions in stride. It's what he does for a living. [ep
   ""I feel like a lot of guys could do it, or maybe I'm selling myself short,'' he said. ""I would have loved to play one position and stay there. It would be a lot easier. But I've done this so long, it's my job to be versatile.'' [ep
   DeRosa admits that he is not an accomplished first baseman. It is not one of the positions he was accustomed to playing coming into this season. But he did start a game there in the World Baseball Classic. [ep
   ""That's the word, getting an education,'' is how he describes his experience at first. ""Playing the position for a whole game is different than picking somebody up for a few innings.'' [ep
   DeRosa didn't have a life plan to play baseball for a living. In high school, he played baseball and football, which he much preferred. [ep
   ""I was all football,'' he said. ""Baseball is so much mental. As a quarterback, you read your keys and throw the ball. It's not like baseball, where you can hit four line drives (that are caught) and go home mad.'' [ep
   He played both sports at Penn and played one summer in the prestigious Cape Cod League, which probably gave a boost to his career. [ep
   ""I probably would have got drafted anyway,'' he said, ""but it wouldn't have been as high (7th round. How many baseball players do you know that come from New Jersey? I can name every one of them.'' [ep
   PART OF THE ANSWER -- Following a substandard performance by David Huff Saturday night, manager Eric Wedge feels he has two openings in the rotation to fill. [ep
  ""I think Jeremy Sowers will pitch in one of those games,'' he said Sunday. ""It's a matter of how we line up during the week as to when.'' [ep
   Anthony Reyes' elbow injury created an opening for a starter on Wednesday, and the manager hasn't determined if Huff will get another start. [ep
   ""I haven't decided,'' the manager said. ""I talked to Mark (Shapiro) about it with morning.'' [ep
   If Huff is sent back to Columbus, there are few viable alternatives, though in Huff's two big-league starts, he did not set the bar very high, giving up 13 runs in 62/3 innings. [ep
   HELP WANTED -- The Tribe bullpen pitched more innings (151/3) than the starters (12), allowing three runs and 10 hits, and manager Eric Wedge has few available relievers for tonight's game against the Rays. [ep
   ""Carl Willis (pitching coach) and I will have to talk about that, and I'll talk to Mark (Shapiro)'' the manager said, referring to the possibility of calling a reliever up to get through the next game or two. Obviously, we've gone hard at the bullpen the last three games.""
   More than likely, Luis Vizcaino, Rafael Betancourt, at the very least, will not have rested arms. Jensen Lewis, Matt Herges and Greg Aquino also might be questionable. [ep 
   REST NEEDED -- After lifting his batting average to .400, Victor Martinez has gone 0-for-13 the past three games. [ep
   Some people would say it's about time, that Martinez was far ahead of the law of averages. Wedge thinks Martinez needs a break. [ep
   ""I think we have to give him a day (off),'' the manager said. ""But I know he won't like that.'' [ep
   SMITH UPDATE -- Joe Smith (right rotator cuff strain) will throw a bullpen today with hitters standing at the plate then pitch a simulated game on Wednesday, before going on a brief rehabilitation assignment. [ep
   That means he could be back in the Tribe bullpen in a week. [ep
  ONE MORE DAY -- Jhonny Peralta (jammed wrist) spent a second consecutive game out of the lineup, but Wedge indicated he probably would be back tonight. [ep
   ""He's better today, and he's available,'' the manager said. ""I felt like his swing was going in the right direction before he hurt his wrist, and the last thing I want to do is have him favor his wrist and cause him to go backward with his swing.'' [ep
   FARM FACTS -- Andy Marte had four hits and Trevor Crowe and Jordan Brown homered, but Columbus lost 4-3 to Buffalo. Marte raised his average to .370. *elip Nate Recknagel doubled and singled three times, driving in a run, as Kinston beat Frederick 10-5. Cord Phelps had three hits and two RBI, and Ron Rivas doubled, singled and drove in two runs. *elip Abner Abreu hit his fourth home run of the season, singled twice and drove in one run, but Lake County lost to West Virginia 8-6. [ep

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Erie topples Akron with early attack against Tomlin

By sstorm Published: May 24, 2009


KEY STATS: Aeros starting pitcher Josh Tomlin spotted the SeaWolves a six-run lead while using 52 pitches before finally settling in the third inning. Tomlin settled down and retired the rest of the batters he faced save for one via walk, but the Aeros were never able to dig out as Tomlin gave up six runs (four earned) on seven hits in four innings.

"Josh wasn't as sharp as he has been," Aeros manager Mike Sarbaugh said. "And they took advantage early and never looked back."

KEY MOMENTS: Erie first baseman Ryan Strieby hit his league-leading 12th home run in the first inning with a bomb to centerfield that landed halfway up the batter's eye, some 425-feet to straight away center...The Aeros lone run came in the second when Carlos Santana led off with a double, took third on a wild pitch and scored on Matt McBride's sacrifice fly.

STORM'S STARS: The SeaWolves offense, which ranks second in the league, put the game away early en route to an eight-run, 10-hit attack.

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Mills' walk-off single gives Aeros 7-6 victory over Erie

By sstorm Published: May 23, 2009


KEY STATS: Aeros starting pitcher Ryan Edell, who was recently a reliever at Triple-A Columbus, lasted just four innings while allowing four runs on eight hits...In two innings of relief, Aeros right-hander Zach Putnam limited Erie to a harmless hit.

KEY MOMENTS: Despite spotting the SeaWolves the early lead, the Aeros got to Erie's Alfredo Figaro for five runs between the fourth and fifth innings capped by Carlos Santana's two-run double...Nick Weglarz's two-out single in the eighth inning tied the game 6-6...Beau Mills won the game with a broken-bat blooper to right field - the Aeros first walk-off win of the season.

STORM'S STAR: Mills went 2-for-4 with with two a walk and two singles - including the game winner in the bottom of the ninth inning.

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To the rescue

By Sheldon Published: May 23, 2009

   Jeremy Sowers and Rich Rundles were called up from Columbus on Saturday to take the place of Anthony Reyes and Aaron Laffey, both of whom were placed on the 15-day disabled list. ¶
   ""Both guys will be in the bullpen for tonight,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ""We'll use Rundles mostly as a left on left guy, but if we need to use him more, we will.'' ¶
   With Reyes on the DL, the Indians will need a starter for Wednesday night against Tampa Bay. ¶
   ""I think that could be in the cards (for me),'' Sowers said. ""But they're going day by day until they come up with something more concrete.'' ¶
   Wedge conceded he had not settled on a replacement for Reyes. ¶
   ""I'm not sure yet,'' the manager said. Obviously, Sowers is an option. We could still use him tonight and even tomorrow (probably for no more than an inning), and he could make a start on Wednesday.'' ¶
   Had Laffey not suffered an injury two innings after Reyes went down Friday night, he would have moved into the rotation. ¶
   ""That's what we were thinking about,'' Wedge said. ¶
   Rundles was 1-1 with one save and a 3.21 earned-run average in 15 appearances at Triple-A. In his only start since being sent to Columbus May 13, Sowers gave up one run and six hits in seven innings, earning a win.  ¶
   HOW BAD IS IT? -- The preliminary diagnosis of Reyes is right elbow inflammation; Laffey is down with a right oblique strain. However, neither pitcher has been seen by a doctor. ¶
   ""Both guys will be examined Monday when we're home,'' Wedge said. ""After that' we'll have a better idea and can go from there.'' ¶
   It's no surprise that Reyes is fighting an elbow injury. He has a history of elbow problems and went on the DL last September with a similar ailment. 
   ""He's been trying to work through this,'' Wedge said, ""but last night he went about as far as he could go.'' ¶
   According to Reyes, ""Nothing really hurts. I just had no control of the ball. I didn't know where it was going.'' ¶
   He walked six a hit a batter in three innings. ¶
   Laffey first felt ""something like a cramp'' on one pitch then a sharp pain the next, before leaving the mound. ¶
   ""I thought it would be murder today, but it's not too bad,'' he said. ""I've already iced it three times. I'll probably do that one or two more times today (for 20 minutes each treatment). I think that's what I'll be doing for three or foure days.'' ¶
   TIME OFF -- Jhonny Peralta was written out of the lineup Saturday night, as Jamey Carroll played third. ¶
   ""He's just getting a day off,'' Wedge said. ""He jammed his wrist going to third last night, but he's still playable.'' ¶
   TIME CHANGES -- Either because games have been dropped or added by national television networks, three games at Progressive Field will have altered start times. ¶
   Next Sunday's game against the Yankees will begin at 12:40 p.m. rather than 1:05 p.m. because it is being televised by WTBS as well as SportsTime Ohio. ESPN has picked the Tribe's June 14 game against the Cardinals for Sunday Night Baseball, changing the start time from 1:05 in the afternoon to 8 p.m. ¶
   In addition, the July 4 game against the Athletics will begin at 7:05 p.m. rather than 4:10 in the afternoon after being dropped by Fox. It will be aired by STO. ¶
   ESPN has added the June 1 game against New York and the June 15 contest against Milwaukee to its schedule. Game times remain the same, but STO will not air them. ¶
   RAPID WRITER -- Bob Feller will appear at a book signing for his recently published Bob Feller's Little Blue Book of Baseball Wisdom Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Beth-Joseph Books at Legacy Village in Lyndhurst. ¶
  FARM FACTS -- Travis Hafner homered, doubled and drove in two runs, as Columbus beat Buffalo 10-4. Hafner is batting .450 (9-for-20) with two doubles and a homer on his rehab assignment. Chris Gimenez and Andy Marte homered, Marte contributing three hits and Gimenez two. Jordan Brown also had three hits. *elip Karexon Sanchez homered and doubled, driving in two runs, but Lake County lost to West Virginia 6-5.

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5-23-09 Morning RoundUp

By jcfortun Published: May 23, 2009

The Indians seemed like they were finally making strides to piece together the season. That was before Anthony Reyes and Aaron Laffey were bit by the injury bug yesterday. 

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Laffey mastering new job

By Sheldon Published: May 22, 2009

   CINCINNATI: The job was new to Aaron Laffey, and he didn't know if the library had a volume that could help him become an effective relief pitcher. ¶
   So he observed, he asked his Indians teammates, he used the experience of being a major-league starter. Heading into Friday night's game against the Reds, Laffey had made five appearances out of the bullpen and posted a 1-0 record with one save and a 2.45 earned-run average in 11 innings. ¶
   Until May 6, Laffey did not really know what it was like to watch a game from the bullpen. But he has used that vantage point to further his education. ¶
   ""When you're in our bullpen (behind the center field fence at Progressive Field), you see the game from the pitcher's perspective,'' he said. ""I see the hitters from the front and the pitcher from the back. It helps from a pitcher's viewpoint.'' ¶
   As a starter who worked every fifth day, Laffey did not have to pay rapt attention to every pitch. ¶
    ""You watch every pitch as a reliever,'' he said. ""You're going to be in it. You absolutely might be facing every one of the guys you're watching.'' ¶
   Laffey is fortunate that he doesn't need 75 warmup pitches to get his arm loose. Even as a starter, he threw only 30 pitches before a game. ¶
   ""When I warm up, I try to throw the ball through the catcher not to him,'' he said. ""After I throw 10 to15 pitches quickly, I go through my normal routine.'' ¶
   The mindset of a reliever differs from that of a starter, who usually has at least a little time to work his way mentally into the action. A reliever, on the other hand, must be at the top of his game immediately, especially if runners are on base. ¶
   ""If I start a game, I still attack the hitters,'' Laffey said. ""But if I'm out there in relief, it's a dog fight right away. It's like there's more on the line, more intensity. ¶
   ""It's fun. When the bullpen phone rings, you get a rush; you're heart starts beating faster. You kind of go from a complete dormant state to being lit up, and the adrenalin starts pumping.'' ¶
   On the other hand, everything becomes at least a little mundane after awhile. ¶
   ""The difference being a reliever is that instead of sitting down in the dugout when the game starts, I go out to the bullpen,'' Laffey said. ""And because I have to be ready to pitch every night, I have to wear full game attire instead of going out in tennis shoes.'' ¶
   BACK IN CENTER -- After spending three games as a designated hitter because of minor elbow soreness, Grady Sizemore was back in center field Friday night. ¶
   ""He definitely felt better today,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ¶
   The other notable lineup change involved Jhonny Peralta. Just when it looked like he would remain at third base, Wedge moved him back to shortstop. ¶
   ""With no DH in this park, I wanted to try and get Ryan Garko in there,'' he manager said. ""I also wanted to get Jhonny and Asdrubal (Cabrera) in the lineup. It came down to a choice between Garko and (Luis) Valbuena.'' ¶
   With Peralta at short, Mark DeRosa played third. ¶
   MAKING PROGRESS -- Shin-Soo Choo knows he's making progress in hitting left-handers. ¶
   ""I'm a lot more comfortable against them this year,'' he said. ""Last year I would look in the dugout, because maybe they want to send up a pinch hitter. This year, no.'' ¶
   Choo is batting only .214 agsainst lefties in 42 at-bats, but of his nine hits, two are doubles and two are home runs. ¶
   GAIN, NO PAIN -- Joe Smith (right rotator cuff strain) took one more step toward getting off the DL by throwing a bullpen Thursday and playing catch Friday. ¶
   ""I threw 30 pitches in the bullpen and I'll have another one Saturday,'' Smith said. ""I'm hoping to go on rehab some time next week.'' ¶
   According to Wedge, ""We'll get some hitters in there against him when we get home, then we'll send him out.'' ¶
   FARM FACTS -- Travis Hafner doubled, singled twice and drove in three runs, as Columbus defeated Buffalo 6-4. Trevor Crowe had four hits, including a double, and Zach Jackson (3-2, 3.09 ERA) gave up three unearned runs in six innings. Rafael Perez made his fifth Triple-A appearance and pitched one scoreless inning, allowing two hits. He has yet to allow a run in six innings. *elip Delvi Cid had three hits and raised his average to .371 in Lake County's 8-2 loss to Greensboro. ¶

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5-22-09 Morning RoundUp

By jcfortun Published: May 22, 2009

Winning consecutive games? Haven't seen that to often this season.

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Jeanmar Gomez tosses the first prefect game in Aeros history

By sstorm Published: May 21, 2009

Moments after throwing his final pitch in the ninth inning and watching it settle into the glove of left fielder Matt McBride, Aeros pitcher Jeanmar Gomez braced himself.

As he turned back around toward home plate, catcher Damaso Espino came hurtling toward him, tackling the right-hander at the conclusion of Akron's 3-0 victory over host Trenton Thursday afternoon at Waterfront Park.

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Wood gets day off after ordeal

By Sheldon Published: May 21, 2009

 KANSAS CITY, Mo.: Some guys will do anything to get a day off. ¶
   Manager Eric Wedge said he would be reluctant to use Indians closer Kerry Wood on Thursday after the ordeal he put himself through Tuesday and Wednesday nights against the Royals. ¶
   ""Not only what he went through but it's a day game after a night game,'' Wedge said. ""We want to keep him off the disabled list.'' ¶
   Wood was practically a fixture on the DL in the 11 years he was with the Cubs, including one, 1999, that he missed entirely recuperating from elbow surgery. ¶
   Tuesday night, Wood failed to preserve a 5-2 lead in the ninth, giving up four runs, two on homers. Wednesday night, Wood was summoned again, this time to hold a 6-5 advantage. After walking the bases loaded with one out, Wood struck out Mark Teahen and David DeJesus to earn the save.  ¶
   Did the blown save enter Wood's mind Wednesday night? ¶
   ""It can't,'' he said. ""You can't think about it. You have to think about getting ahead, getting strike one.'' ¶
   How long did Wood allow himself to mull over Tuesday night's failure? ¶
   ""Probably till I fell asleep,'' he said. ""The way things have been going for us -- I thought we should have won the series in Tampa, and then Tuesday night was the worst of all.'' ¶
   Wood said the only pitch that worked for him Tuesday night was his fastball. Wednesday night, he had his full arsenal of breaking pitches, as well. ¶
   ""He knew he needed to throw more off-speed pitches,'' catcher Kelly Shoppach said. ""When you throw that hard (97 mph), they're going to sit dead red.'' ¶
   But Shoppach didn't think he would see a repeat of Tuesday night. ¶
   ""I don't think you're going to see four guys in a row square up the ball when someone's throwing 97,'' he said. ""And Kerry knows that.'' ¶
   Throwing more off-speed pitches is what kept Wood on track Wednesday, that and finding his command. ¶
   ""That's what bailed me out,'' he said. ""I had a pretty good cutter and a pretty good breaking pitch.'' ¶
    In both outings combined, Wood threw 52 pitches, and even though Wedge did not want him pitching on Thursday, he did not preclude his closer from pitching three or even four consecutive games. ¶
   Wood inadvertently altered his appearance between Tuesday night and Wednesday night. ¶
   ""I tried trimming my goatee and screwed it up, so I shaved the whole thing off,'' he said. ¶
   Does he plan to grow it back? ¶
   ""We'll see,'' Wood said. ""We're 1-0 without it.'' ¶
   FORTY AND COUNTING -- According to conventional baseball wisdom, teams should begin evaluating their personnel 40 games into the season. ¶
  But with the Indians stuck in a season-long skid, that process began long ago. ¶
  ""Forty games came for us three or four weeks ago,'' manager Eric Wedge said faceitiously. ""It feels like we've played 120.'' ¶
   Actually it's only 42, but that's hardly the point. ¶
   ""At certain points in time, you have to look at your club,'' Wedge said. ""But the way the season has gone, we've been doing that for weeks.'' ¶
   Looking back at spring training, were there indications of the problems that have stymied the team? ¶
   ""Everybody was talking but how great our bullpen was when we came out of camp,'' said Wedge, referring to the part of the club that has caused the most consternation. ""Now we're in the process of sorting things out there. ¶
   ""I think we were all concerned about the starting pitching back then. That's always going to be a concern.'' ¶
    The lineup has been without cleanup hitter Travis Hafner, out with a sore shoulder, for more than three weeks. ¶
   ""We just didn't know about him,'' Wedge said of Hafner, who was returning after undergoing surgery in October. ""Physcially, I thought he was OK, but we didn't know performance-wise. I still think if he's physically OK, he'll be a good hitter for us.'' ¶
   NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENT -- Akron starter Jeanmar Gomez became the first minor-leaguer to throw a perfect game since July 15, 2007, as the Aeros defeated the Trenton Thunder 3-0 Thursday afternoon in Trenton. ¶
   Gomez needed only 87 pitches to retire 27 batters: nine on ground balls, 10 on fly balls and eight on strikes. Since being called up from Kinston, Gomez has compiled a 4-0 record and 0.31 earned-run average. In 29 innings, he has allowed nine hits, one walk and struck out 26. Opposing batters are hitting .097 against him. ¶
   The 21-year-old Venezuelan right-hander posted a 2-2 record and 2.63 ERA in four starts at Kinston. Including his last two starts at Kinston, Gomez has permitted one run in 42 innings. Last year at Kinston, Gomez was 5-9 with a 4.55 ERA. ¶
   Gomez is the first Aeros pitcher to throw a no-hitter. ¶
   ONE MORE DAY? -- Grady Sizemore (elbow soreness) spent a third day as the designated hitter, but he might return to center field tonight. ¶
   ""He feels better,'' the manager said. ""But since it's a day game after a night game, I thought we'd give him one more day.'' ¶
   Sizemore also has been in an extended slump but snapped an 0-for-17 skid with a bloop single in the third inning.  ¶
   LONG WAIT -- Jensen Lewis hasn't pitched in six days, because Wedge has been seeking an appropriate time to put him in a game. ¶
   ""We're going to use him now for length in the middle portion of the game,'' the manager said. ""We want to let him pitch a couple of innings and work through everything. We also still want to get an extended look at (Luis) Vizcaino.'' ¶
   Lewis began the season as co-setup man with Rafael Perez, but he has struggled trying to keep the ball in the park. ¶
   FARM FACTS -- Paolo Espino threw six scoreless innings, giving up two hits, three walks and striking out seven in Kinston's 3-2 win over Potomac. *elip Abner Abreu singled three times and drove in two runs, as Lake County beat Greensboro 5-1. ¶

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Aeros' Gomez throws perfect game in Trenton

By sstorm Published: May 21, 2009

Moments after throwing his final pitch in the ninth inning and watching it settle into the glove of left fielder Matt McBride, Aeros pitcher Jeanmar Gomez braced himself.

As soon as he turned back around toward home plate, catcher Damaso Espino came hurtling toward him and tackled the right-hander at the conclusion of Akron's 3-0 victory over host Trenton Thursday afternoon.

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5-21-09 Morning RoundUp

By jcfortun Published: May 21, 2009

I had to double check what channel I was on last night. The Cavaliers choked late and the Indians came back to win. That can't be right can it?

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Sore elbow keeps Sizemore as DH

By Sheldon Published: May 20, 2009

  KANSAS CITY, Mo.: Grady Sizemore isn't the designated hitter type. ¶
   Too restless, too hyperactive is Sizemore, who now is No. 2 in the Indians' batting order. ¶
   And for the second consecutive game, Sizemore was the DH Wednesday night against the Royals. ¶
   Manager Eric Wedge was hoping that Sizemore would extricate himself from the slump that has been plaguing him almost from Day 1 of the season. That didn't happen, so Wedge began giving him periodic days off, allowing Sizemore to get away from the various pressures that can derail a hitter faster than a 98 mile-per-hour fastball. ¶
   Sizemore didn't play Sunday and Monday was an off day. When play resumed Tuesday night, he was dropped from the leadoff spot to No. 2 in the order and had to watch Ben Francisco patrol his position, center field. ¶
   Same thing Wednesday night and not only because Sizemore is fighting a batting skid. ¶
   ""Grady's elbow is a little sore,'' Wedge said. ""So we're trying to do a couple of things: Get his mind off it a little bit and get him off his feet a little bit.'' ¶
   Wedge insisted there is no reason to think Sizemore's injury is anything serious. Sizemore's elbow soreness hasn't even required a doctor's examination, according to the manager. However, Sizemore began to feel pain in the elbow two weeks ago. Since then, the soreness has become at least marginally worse. ¶
   ""We're trying to get his swing back,'' Wedge said. ""We're seeing a couple of good swings a night. I think he created some bad habits, and he needs to work beyond them.'' ¶
   Sizemore began Wednesday night's game with a .215 batting average and .295 on-base percentage, unacceptable for a leadoff hitter. Normally, Sizemore is one of the league leaders in scoring runs, but at the moment he's only fifth on the team with 21. ¶
   There is an argument to be made that if Sizemore is in the lineup, he might as well bat in the leadoff spot. Even if he bats second, his mindset would dictate that he be the best No. 2 hitter possible, which would create as much stress as if he led off. ¶
   Wedge didn't buy it, saying, ""I don't necessarily agree with that. Leading off a game is just different, and Grady wants to be the guy who gets on base to start the game. I think this (batting second) alleviates a lot of that.'' ¶
   How long will Sizemore be the DH? ¶
   ""He could play center right now,'' Wedge said. ""So we'll take this day to day and see how he feels.''  ¶
   EXTREME PAIN -- Manager Eric Wedge has not been through a team slump such as the one the Indians are going through, one in which they have lost six games in the opponent's last at-bat. ¶
   ""It kicks you to the ground,'' he said. ""I'd be lying if I said otherwise. That's where the word separate has to be taken seriously. You have to utilize it every day. Put on a happy face and get after it. ¶
   ""We're in the middle of something that I don't think any of us has been through before. But it's not going to continue. It can't.'' ¶
   Wedge continues to come up with ways to break the spell. ¶
   ""You spend 24 hours a day figuring out what you can do to work through this,'' he said. ""Then you see a game like last night and think, "What are you going to do?' '' ¶
   Tuesday night, the Tribe led the Royals 5-2 lead going into the ninth, only to see Kerry Wood give up four runs. ¶
   DONE DEAL? -- Jhonny Peralta has played third five of the past six games. Does that mean the job belongs to him? ¶
   ""I wouldn't say that yet,'' Wedge said. ""But I like what I'vse been seeing.'' ¶
   HERE THEY COME -- Pitchers have been taking batting practice and bunting practice for a couple of weeks in anticipation of interleague play, which begins in Cincinnati on Friday. ¶
   ""I don't want them to do too much because of possibility of injury,'' Wedge said. ¶
   Wedge doesn't always watch. ¶
   ""I get a full evaluation about who can bunt and who can hit,'' he said. ""Also, who thinks they can hit, and there's a lot of that.'' ¶
   VISITOR FROM THE DL -- Joe Smith (strained rotator cuff) will throw a bullpen in Cincinnati over the weekend. ¶
   FARM FACTS -- Lonnie Chisenhall hit his seventh home run of the year in Kinston's 4-3 loss to Potomac. Eric Berger worked 52/3 scoreless innings, giving up three hits and three walks. ¶

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5-20-09 Morning RoundUp

By jcfortun Published: May 20, 2009

The bullpen just keeps getting worse and worse.

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Betancourt seeks consistency

By Sheldon Published: May 19, 2009

   KANSAS CITY, Mo.: Until last Friday, it appeared that Rafael Betancourt was back to being a late inning reliever on whom the Indians could rely totally. [ep
  Then he gave up one run, one hit and two walks in a 12/3-inning appearance against the Rays at Tropicana Field. [ep
   In his previous five outings, Betancourt had given up runs only once and earned a win by pitching two scoreless innings against the Blue Jays on May 4. [ep
   But the inconsistency that has infected the Tribe bullpen hasn't skipped over Betancourt, who says, ""I have to keep trying, because I feel fine.'' [ep
   Betancourt is trying to stick to basic pitching axioms. [ep
   ""All I'm trying to do is throw strikes,'' he said. ""I think I'm able to locate my pitches better now than last year at this time. [ep
   ""When I do that, I feel like nobody is going to get on base. That's the way I feel, even though I know I'm not going to be perfect. Sometimes I'm going to have to battle to get people out.'' [ep
    Betancourt dominated opposing batters during a sensational 2007 season in which he posted a 5-1 record with three saves and a 1.47 earned-run average as the Tribe's lockdown setup man. He averaged a strikeout an inning -- 80 altogether --and walked only nine in 791/3 innings. [ep
   Hitters only batted .183 against him; he allowed runs in only 13 of his 68 appearances, and he never gave up more than one earned run in any outing. [ep
   But last season Betancourt struggled, especially in the first half. He seemed to throw nothing but fastballs and didn't pitch inside. Things got better in August and September, when he compiled a 3.70 ERA in 23 appearances. [ep
   ""When I had a bad game last year, I'd think about it for two weeks,'' he said. ""It would be like, "What did I do wrong?' I would get it in my head that everything I was doing was wrong. This year, if I have a bad game, I'm thinking that I'll have a good game next time.'' [ep
   Betancourt hasn't fallen into a sustained slump, but he has been erratic enough to post a 4.95 ERA in 18 outings. [ep
   He has pitched on consecutive days four times. Twice on the second day, he gave up a total of five runs, almost half the earned runs (11) he has allowed all season. Nobody knows if this is a key for him, but club officials aren't ruling anything out. [ep
   And regardless of the numbers, Betancourt insists, ""I think this year I'm more relaxed and more confident.'' [ep
   HE'S NO. 2 -- Regular leadoff hitter Grady Sizemore made his first appearance of the season at the No. 2 spot in the Indians' batting order Tuesday night. ¶
   ""I'm just trying to take a little heat off Grady,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ""He's been pushing and pressing, trying to do too much.  We'll have someone else hit first and let Grady see a few pitches. I'm making the switch for him.'' ¶
  Sizemore has been in a slump for most of the season and came into the game batting .220. Not only did he bat behind Asdrubal Cabrera Tuesday night, he got a rest from playing center field as the designated hitter. Ben Francisco took over in center. ¶
  HAFNER UPDATE -- Travis Hafner sat out Monday's game for Columbus, but he had three singles Sunday and is 4-for-12 on his rehab assignment. [ep
  ""He feels pretty good,'' Wedge said. ""He's still trying to work his way back into his swing. He'll play in three of four games into the weekend. That's when we'll take a look at him, after the weekend.'' [ep
   EXPERIMENT OVER -- Hector Rondon will not appear in the Indians' bullpen this year. After throwing twice as a reliever for Akron, Tribe officials decided not to push the idea of converting him from starter to reliever. [ep
   Rondon, the brightest pitching prospect in the upper levels of the Indians' farm system, gave up runs in both his Double-A relief outings. [ep
   LEWIS MOVING UP -- Scott Lewis (strained elbow) is back to throwing long toss from 105 feet and experienced no reversals. He is not eligible to come off the 60-day DL until June 10, but Tribe officials expect him to go on a rehab assignment before that. [ep
   After he began throwing off the mound initially, Lewis suffered a setback more than a week ago and had to begin again after time off. [ep
  FARM FACTS -- Trevor Crowe had three singles and one RBI in Columbus' 4-1 win over Scranton-Wilkes Barre. Michael Aubrey hit his fourth home run of the year. Kirk Saarloos (3-4, 4.41 ERA) gave up one run and six hits in going the distance. *elip Russell Young threw six scoreless innings, allowing seven htis, but Kinston lost 1-0 to Potomac. *elip Abner Abreu homered, singled and drove in three runs, but Lake County lost to Greensboro 6-5. [ep

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Rondon back in Aeros rotation, slated to start Wednesday

By sstorm Published: May 19, 2009

Through Aeros PR man and radio announcer Rob Sinclair, manager Mike Sarbaugh verified that right-hander Hector Rondon will slide back into Akron's starting roatation after two sub-par relief appearances.

As first reported by the Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes, Rondon will indeed start Wednesday in Trenton, pushing everyone in the Aeros rotation back a day.

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Rondon headed back to Aeros rotation?

By sstorm Published: May 19, 2009

According to the Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes, Aeros ace-turned reliever, Hector Rondon, is expected to be moved back into the Aeros starting rotation.

Per Hoynes:
Right-hander Hector Rondon is returning to Class AA Akron's starting rotation Wednesday. The Indians moved Rondon to the bullpen for two appearances because they felt they may need his help in Cleveland.

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Huff needs better command

By Sheldon Published: May 18, 2009

   With lineup snafus and a bench-clearing episode dominating Sunday's game, David Huff's major-league debut was practically forgotten. [ep
   The left-hander showed a few flashes of why the Indians think he will be a productive starter, but overall his outing left lots to be desired, not surprising in light of the numbers. He lasted only 31/3 innings and gave up seven runs. [ep
   However, there were mitigating circumstances. Huff was pithing on the road against a tough lineup, and he had to wait an extra 13 minutes before throwing his first pitch while umpires sorted through their options after Rays manager Joe Maddon filled out his lineup card incorrectly and ended up losing his designated hitter. [ep
   Huff was throwing extra warm,-up pitches throughout most of the delay and had no idea what was being discussed. However, he feared the worst. [ep
   ""To be honest, I thought they were going to say I wasn't on the roster,'' Huff said.""I thought there was a problem with me. I was just hoping that everything would be OK. I didn't have a clue what was going on.'' [ep
   The inability to command his fastball was Huff''s primary problem. [ep
   ""I just really struggled with my location,'' he said. ""With these guys, they're hear for a reason. If they see a good pitch, they crush it.'' [ep
   Added manager Eric Wedge, ""I think he was just fighting to control the baseball.'' [ep
   HARD FEELINGS,CONTINUED -- According to Victor Martinez, the Rays were showing up the Tribe by stealing bases when they were behind 9-0 Thursday night in a game that ended in an 11-7 Cleveland win. [ep
   In addition, there might have been residual anger over J.P. Howell throwing a pitch close to Martinez's head Friday night, a theory denied by Martinez and Kerry Wood, who on Sunday threw one pitch behind B.J. Upton and another that bored in on his knees in the eighth inning. [ep
   According to Maddon, ""It's obvious that Wood came into the game to try to hit B.J. It's all based on B.J. running (stealing third) in Thursday's game. They wait until the very end, and they bring in a guy throwing 96. It's one thing to make a statement and another to throw behind a guy.'' [ep
   Wood denied he threw purposely at Upton, and Wedge's explanation of why he brought in Wood for the final out of the eighth made sense. [ep
   Wood hadn't pitched in three days and would have had to wait until at least tonight in Kansas City to get into a game. But Wedge did not want to use Wood for the entire eighth inning in case the Tribe rallied to take the lead in the ninth, and Wood was needed to close out the game. [ep
   Matt Herges, who preceded Wood to the mound, doesn't throw 96, but he just as easily could have thrown a pitch behind (or at) Upton. [ep
   Then again, maybe Wedge summoned Wood to keep the rust from builind on his arm and to throw at Upton. [ep
   AND MORE HARD FEELINGS -- When Mark DeRosa came to the plate in the ninth, he was hit by Troy Percival. [ep
   Another coincidence? ""I get two quick strikes, and I wanted to come in,'' Percival said. ""I was not trying to hit him. I respect the way he plays the game. He has a good reputation.'' [ep
   WHO KNEW? -- Long after Sunday's game was over, it was finally revealed that pitching coch Carl Willis was thrown for arguing the disputed catch of Ryan Garko's fly to the fence, a ball that clearly was not caught. [ep
   FOLLOW THE MONEY -- Indians fans love to complain about the team's relatively low payroll of $81 million. [ep
   But how about Columbus? The Tribe's Triple-A affiliate has been taking on payroll as the season progresses. When Travis Hafner showed up for a rehab assignment last Friday, the Clippers' roster suddenly included a player whose salary was $11.5 million. [ep
   Then again, when Luis Vizcaino was summoned to Cleveland, Columbus lost a $3.5 million man. Two days ago, Masa Kobayashi decided to accept an assignment to Triple-A, which added $3 million to the Columbus salary structure. [ep
   Of course, all of the money is paid by the Indians, who are responsible for every player's salary in their organization. [ep
   The range of salaries on a Triple-A team can be enormous. Hafner leads the Clippers' earners, but others on the club -- Tony Sipp and Wyatt Toregas, for example -- are working on minor-league contracts worth $65,000. [ep
   In all, the Columbus payroll probably is close to $17 million. It would jump to $27 million when Jake Westbrook is ready to go on a rehab assignment, but by that time Hafner is expected to be back with the big-league club. [ep

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Aeros' Weglarz is EL Player of the Week

By sstorm Published: May 18, 2009

Aeros left fielder Nick Weglarz was named the Eastern League Player of the Week Monday for the period ending May 17th, becoming the first Aeros player this season to win a weekly honor.

Over that span, Weglarz batted .458 (11-for-24) with three doubles, a home run, six runs scored and tied for second in the league with eight RBI. He also recorded a pair of two-hit games during Sunday’s doubleheader at Altoona, and now has nine multi-hit outings on the season.

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Trading away the Tribe

By jcfortun Published: May 18, 2009

Plenty of rumors have already swirled this season as the Indians carry the worst record in the American League and the second worst in all of baseball.

If the Indians continue their downward slide who might be traded away for top of the line (pitching) prospects?

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Tribe pitch(er) count up to 20

By Sheldon Published: May 17, 2009

    ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.: Durng the first 17 days of May, 11 pitchers have come and gone in an effort to restore order to the Indians' pitching staff. ¶
   The latest moves: calling up highly-regarded prospect David Huff from Columbus to start Sunday's game against the Rays and purchassing the contract of Greg Aquino from Triple-A to help stabilize the bullpen. ¶
   Aquino, 31, has pitched for three major-league teams since 2004: Arizona for three seasons, Milwaukee for one and Baltimore last year, when he worked only 91/3 innings and posted a 12.54 earned-run average, allowing 17 hits and nine walks. ¶
   ""We'll probaby pick a spot for him and work from there,'' manager Eric Wedge said Sunday, acknowledging that at this point, it's impossible to assign a role to Aquino. ""He has a good arm and good stuff, but he's a little erratic. He needs to trust his stuff and put the ball in play.'' ¶
   Having been released by Baltimore, the Tribe signed Aquno to a minor-league contract in January and issued him an invitation to big-league camp for spring training. ¶
   Aquino has missed time every season, including this one, with an injury but has not had to undergo surgery. At Columbus, he was sidelined from April 16 thorugh May 6 with tendinitis in his right shoulder. He appeared in eight games for the Clippers, saving four, giving up one run, eight hits and four walks, while striking out six. ¶
   To make room for Aquino on the 25-man roster, rookie right-hander Tony Sipp was optioned back to Triple-A, 31/2 weeks after being called up. In nine appearances, Sipp gave up three earned runs and four hits, striking out nine in 61/3 innings. ¶
   Sipp's problem was control. He walked eight, including six of the last 10 batters he faced. ¶
   ""In his last two or three outings, he had trouble throwing the ball over the plate,'' Wedge said. He needs to go down and relax and get himself back on track.'' ¶
   Sipp was making his first trip to the big leagues, so his unpredictability was no surprise. ¶
   ""All of that is a plus,'' said Wedge, referring to Sipp being able to acclimate himself to the majors. ""Hopefully, he'll be more prepared when he comes back.'' ¶
   To find a spot for Aquino on the 40--man roster, Scott Lewis (strained left elbow) was moved from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL, which means he cannot be activated until June 10. ¶
   The Tribe already has used 20 pitchers, eight starters and 12 relievers. ¶
   RAYS LOSE DH --  The game was held up 13 minutes after the Indians' first at-bats, as the umpires tried to figure out how Rays manager Joe Maddon had contaminated his lineup and what they should do about it. ¶
  What happened is this: Maddon listed both Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist at third base. When the game began, Zobrist ran out to his position, making the Longoria entry invalid. ¶
   Under the rules, the Rays were forced to lose their designated hitter, putting Longoria on the bench and starting pitcher Andy Sonnanstine in the lineup, batting third. ¶
   It could have been worse. Sonnanstine, born in Barberton, came into the game with a .400 (4-for-10) career average and doubled home a run in the fourth inning. ¶
   The incident was reminiscent of a game on July 22, 1999, in Cleveland, when manager Mike Hargrove's lineup inadvertently listed Manny Ramirez at DH and Alex Ramirez as the right fielder. ¶
   When Manny actually played right in the first inning, the lineup mistake came to light, and the Tribe lost its DH, which meant starting pitcher Charles Nagy (hitting seventh) had to bat. ¶
   Toronto and David Wells won the game 4-3, and Nagy was 0-for-2 at the plate. ¶
    TAKE A BREAK -- Slumping Grady Sizemore was given a day off Sunday, with Asdrubal Cabrera taking his place at the top of the lineup and Ben Francisco spelling him in center field. ¶
   ""Coupled with tomorrow (an off day), Grady will have two days off,'' Wedge said. ""We've played so many days in a row, it will help him mentally and physically. ¶
   ""He's been wearing it (the stress of losing). Everybody does, but Grady is a great player, and he puts a lot of responsibility on himself.'' ¶
   Sizemore's batting average has skidded to .220. ¶
   STOP, THIEF -- For the series, the Rays stole 13 bases (through the fifth inning Sunday), with six of the base stealers scoring. Nothing surprising about this. Tampa Bay, with 66 steals, leads the American League by a wide margin. ¶
   ""Basically, they're one of the best in regard to the running game,'' Wedge said. ""We're trying to be as quick as we can to the plate, but eventually, the pitcher has to throw the ball.'' ¶
   MINOR-LEAGUE NEWS -- Masa Kobayashi has accepted his assignment to the minors and will report to Columbus. *elip The Tribe traded right-hander Randy Newsom to the Pirates for a player to be named. Newsom was 2-0 with one save and a 2.38 ERA in 111/3 innings at Akron. ¶
  FARM FACTS -- Cristo Arnal homered and singled, driving in three runs, but Kinston lost 4-3 to Frederick. ¶

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Columbus shuttle working overtime

By Sheldon Published: May 17, 2009

   ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.: The Indians arrived at Tropicana Field on Sunday surprised to welcome two new pitchers, rather than one, which was expected.

   David Huff was summoned from Columbus to start against the Rays Sunday. But along with him came veteran reliever Greg Aquino. Masa Kobayashi already had been dropped from the roster to make room for Huff. Tony Sipp was optioned back to Triple-A to provide a roster spot for Aquino.

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Huff gets the call

By Sheldon Published: May 16, 2009

   ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.: -- David Huff will make his major-league debut this afternoon, starting for the Indians against the Rays. ¶
   ""He has good stuff and throws it where he wants to,'' manager Eric Wedge said Saturday. ""He's also got a pretty good heartbeat.'' ¶
   Huff is one of the Tribe's more prized prospects, a left-hander who throws harder than fellow lefties Aaron Laffey, Scott Lewis and Jeremy Sowers and who might have a higher ceiling. ¶
   In seven starts at Columbus, Huff posted a 5-1 record and 4.35 earned-run average. He gave up 35 hits,16 walks and struck out 32 in 391/3 innings. ¶
   Huff got off to a late start in spring training because of a strained left biceps and never was able to find himself. ¶
   ""I don't think he ever got untracked this spring,'' Wedge said. ""He needed to catch up after spring training and get into a routine.'' ¶
   Huff is guaranteed only one start, but he might stay in the rotation for the next 10 years. ¶
   ""Everything is open ended right now,'' Wedge said. ¶
  SIFTING THROUGH THE ASHES -- In the wake of another horrid performance by the bullpen, which culminated in Tampa Bay's 8-7 win Friday night -- the Rays trailed 7-0 -- Wedge admitted that he is running out of ways to express himself to the culprits. ¶
   ""There are only so many ways to describe the same thing,'' the manager said. ""Most important, these guys have to keep getting up off the mat. That's what I focused on last night. ¶
   ""I talked to a couple of them after the game. Today you have to turn the page. It's not easy, but it goes with the territory.'' ¶
   TROUBLING TENDENCY -- When Luis Vizcaino gave up a walk-off homer to B.J. Upton to end Friday night's game, it obviously wasn't the first time the veteran right-hander had given up the longball. ¶
   Last year with Colorado, Vizcaino permitted home runs at the rate of one every 4.6 innings. And don't blame it on the altitude of Coors Field. Vizcaino allowed one homer each 5.6 innings at home and one every four innings on the road. ¶
   ""He has to do a better job of keeping the ball in the park,'' Wedge said. ""But it was only his first outing.'' ¶
   BLAZING HOT -- Victor Martinez, who started the day leading the league in hitting with a .400 average, shows no signs of slowing down. ¶
   ""Victor is on a mission,'' Wedge said. ""Wins and losses are very personal to him. Not being able to be a part of it last year really killed him. He really appreciates the game. Every game is a pitched battle for him. He's all in.'' ¶
   Martinez missed more than half of last season with elbow and hamstring injuries. ¶
   FARM FACTS -- Travis Hafner went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts in his first rehab game, as Columbus defeated Lehigh Valley 8-5. Chris Gimenez, Andy Marte and Jordan Brown homered, and Trevor Crowe had three hits and three RBI. Zach Jackson (2-2, 4.15 ERA) threw five scoreless innings, giving up two hits. *elip Lonnie Chisenhall had two hits and one RBI, and John Drennen had two hits and two RBI, but Kinston lost 6-4 to Frederick. *elip Delvi Cid had four hits, including a home run and a double, in Lake County's 8-7 win over Hickory. Mark Thompson had two hits and three RBI, and Abner Abreu doubled and singled.¶

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5-16-09 Morning RoundUp

By jcfortun Published: May 16, 2009

Newcomer Luis Vizcaino fits right in with the rest of the Cleveland relievers, allowing a walk-off homer to BJ Upton can make you "one of the boys" quickly.

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Wedge shuffles his defense

By Sheldon Published: May 15, 2009

   ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.: For manager Eric Wedge, it comes down to this: ""It was just one game, but if he can do it once, he can do it twice.'' [ep
   This might not be the beginning of a permanent change in the Indians' defensive alignment, but don't bet against it. [ep
   Wedge was talking about Jhonny Peralta's 2009 debut as a third baseman Thursday night. Peralta made all the plays with aplomb, handling four routine ground balls plus a pop fly in addition to starting a double play and charging toward the plate to field a bunt and throw out the runner like a veteran. [ep
  Peralta is a veteran, a veteran shortstop. Wedge wants the flexibility to play Peralta at third, but why? [ep
   ""I thought Jhonny did a good job over there last night,'' the manager said. ""We'll continue to move people around. I'm not saying it will be an everyday thing, but he'll play there more. This is something I wanted to do to make us quicker and more consistent up the middle.'' [ep
   One thing Peralta lacks as a shortstop is range. When he moves to third, Asdrubal Cabrera will play short and reach more balls than Peralta. Cabrera usually plays second but came up as a shortstop. [ep
   ""Nothing is set in stone,'' Wedge said. ""But if Asdrubal moves to short, (Luis) Valbuena and (Jamey) Carroll will be at second.'' [ep
   All of this means that Ryan Garko will get less time at first, because third baseman Mark DeRosa will be moved to first in Wedge's new defensive scheme. [ep
  He won't be the only one. When Kelly Shoppach takes over behind the plate, Victor Martinez will move to first and DeRosa probably will play the outfield rather than sit on the bench. [ep
   Garko won't be left entirely out of the picture, at least for now. He is likely to log time at designated hitter until Travis Hafner returns from a rehabilitation assignment at Columbus. Hafner has been on the disabled list with a sore shoulder. [ep
   Inasmuch as the initial game under Wedge's new system went on without a hitch, the manager tried it again Friday night with Peralta at third, Cabrera at short, Carroll at second, DeRosa at first and Garko at DH. [ep
   GOING DEEP -- Before the Indians took batting practice Friday afternoon, a football game broke out at Tropicana Field. [ep
   It was bullpen catcher Dave Wallace and Mark DeRosa delivering 50-yard passes to receiver Jensen Lewis. Wallace was a collegiate quarterback at Vanderbilt, and DeRosa took snaps at Penn. [ep
   But where did the football come from? David Dellucci packed it with his gear. [ep
   ""I only took it to keep things loose in the clubhouse,'' said Dellucci, a defensive back in high school. [ep
   STILL A MYSTERY -- Manager Eric Wedge refused to divulge the identity of Sunday's starter, though it appears that David Huff (5-1, 4.35 ERA) will get the call. [ep
   ""We've got it narrowed down to a couple of guys,'' he said. ""But I'm not announcing anything yet.' [ep
    It became necessary to find another starter when Jeremy Sowers was optioned back to Columbus after making two starts and giving up 12 runs in nine innings. [ep
   RUN MATT, RUN -- Matt LaPorta stole his first big-league base in the sixth inning of the Tribe's 11-7 win Thursday night. [ep
   LaPorta has been considered a prime prospect because of his power rather than his speed. [ep
   ""No, he did not go on his own,'' Wedge said. ""Some guys are on their own, but he isn't. But coming out of spring training, I could see he's a pretty good baserunner.'' [ep
   FARM FACTS -- Chris Gimenez hit his third homer of the year and singled, driving in one run, as Columbus beat Lehigh Valley 5-4. George Lombard had three hits and one RBI. Rafael Perez threws a hitless inning. *elip Paolo Espino (0-1, 0.90 ERA) gave up two runs (one earned) and three hits in five innings, but Kinston lost 4-3 to Wilmington. Lonnie Chisenhall, John Drennen and Roman Pena each had two hits. *elip Lake County's T.J. McFarland was named South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week for making two starts and allowing one run and seven hits in 11 innings.

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A weekly look around the Tribe's Minor Leagues

By sstorm Published: May 15, 2009

With the Indians' brass continuing to try and solve the team's bullpen problems internally through its farm system, a handful of minor league pitchers have changed roles. Meanwhile, the parent club continues to stumble along, in desperate need of needing pitching help in both the starting lineup and the bullpen.

At Triple-A Columbus, the Clippers are 16-19 and have moved up to fourth place in the International League West Division, 2 1/2 games behind division-leader Louisville.

* WHO'S HOT - Over his last 16 games 3B Andy Marte is hitting .373 (19-for-51) with four doubles, a triple, three home runs and 14 RBI while having reached base safely in each of his last 17 games.

* DID YOU KNOW - Indians DH Travis Hafner is scheduled to begin his rehab assignment (right shoulder) tonight in Columbus at Huntington Park against Lehigh Valley.

* MORE PITCHING MOVES - RHP Vinnie Chulk was outrighted to the Clippers Thursday and accepted his assignment...With the free-agent signing of veteran RHP Luis Vizcaino also on Thursday, LHP Jeremy Sowers was optioned back to Columbus.

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5-16-09 Morning RoundUp

By jcfortun Published: May 15, 2009

It's nice to see the Indians bats come alive all of the sudden, and well the pitching held up well enough to get the Indians its second consecutive win. Just ignore Fausto Carmona's sixth inning implosion and you'll feel much better about it.

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Vizcaino joins bullpen crew

By Sheldon Published: May 14, 2009

   ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.: Luis Vizcaino spent a week in Cleveland only to take a free ride on the Indians' charter flight back to his home in Tampa Wednesday night. ¶
   He is the newest piece of the puzzle, as General Mark Shapiro tries to patch together the club's beleaguered bullpen. Valbuena, 34, hasn't pitched since April 21, the day before he was designated for assignment by the Cubs, for whom he appeared four times and did not give up a run in 32/3 innings. ¶
   Asked why he was tossed away, Valbuena said, ""I don't know what it was. It's just baseball. I pitched pretty good over there.'' ¶
   Apparently what happened is this: Chicago wanted to dump starter Jason Marquis' $6.375,000 salary last year and did it by taking Vizcaino from the Rockies. When an opportune moment came to unload Vizcaino, whom the Cubs didn't really want in the first place, they took it., ¶
   Enter the Tribe, which summoned Vizcaino to Cleveland last week to throw batting practice twice and a bullpen session once before signing him on Wednesday. ¶
   Apparently, there was no neccessity of seeing Vizcaino retire Triple-A hitters, even if it would be to scrape off the rust of not pitching for 31/2 weeks. The big-league bullpen is crying for help right now. ¶
   What did manager Eric Wedge tell Vizcaino upon his arrival? ¶
   ""He said, "Welcome to the team and get ready every day to pitch,' '' Vizcaino said. ¶
   Wedge admittedly isn't sure how Vizcaino will fit among his other relievers, if he fits at all. ¶
   ""With the uncertainty of our bullpen, it makes sense to take a shot at him,'' the manager said. ""I don't know exactly what role he's going to be in. We don't haved established roles for anybody right now except Rafael Betancourt in the eighth and Kerry Wood in the ninth.'' ¶
   Last year, Vizcaino posted a 1-2 record and 5.28 earned-run average in 43 appearances, giving up 10 home runs, 19 walks and striking out 49 in 46 innings. ¶
   To make room for Vizcaino on the roster, Jeremy Sowers was optioned to Columbus after making two unsatisfactory starts, giving up 12 runs in nine innings. ¶
   ""You have to command the baseball to be successful up here,'' Wedge said. ""Unless you have electric stuff, you have to throw the ball where you want. Even then, you can't keep missing your spots. So Jeremy has to go down and work on that.'' ¶
   When Sowers was mowing down batters his rookie year of 2006, he had pinpoint control. ¶
   ""The league didn't know him,'' Wedge said. ""But after that year they had scouting reports. The league adjusted to him, and he had to adjust back. Some pitchers just never do.'' ¶
   NEXT -- With Jeremy Sowers having returned to Columbus, the Indians are looking for a starter to face Kent State product Andy Sonnanstine on Sunday. ¶
   It will not be Aaron Laffey, who was moved to the bullpen a week ago. ¶
   ""I'm not sure yet who it will be,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ""We talked about it all morning. We're working through our system for somebody down there.'' ¶
   Wedge didn't name the candidates at Columbus, but beyond David Huff (5-1, 4.35 ERA), there isn't much to choose from. The downside with Huff is that he might not be ready to make his big-league debut. ¶
   As for Laffey, Wedge said, ""Not for this Sunday. There's still a chance that he'll end up in the rotation, but until we get things settled in the bullpen, he'll probably stay in relief. He's pitched in two of our last three wins out of the bullpen, so that's real.'' ¶
   VERSATILITY -- Wedge showed off the club's versatility Thursday night by moving shortstop Jhonny Peralta to third, third baseman Mark DeRosa to first and moving Asdrubal Cabrera (who usually plays second but is just as good at short) to short and inserting rookie Luis Valbuena at second. ¶
   ""This allows us to be quicker up the middle on the turf,'' Wedge said, reasoning that with Fausto Carmona on the mound, there will be lots of ground balls to short and second and not many at the corners, because batters won't pull the ball. ¶
   How often will Peralta play to third? ¶
   ""It's something I think we'll see more of,'' the manager said. ""But I wouldn't go as far as saying he'll settle into third. We'll see.'' ¶
    STOP THE PRESSES -- Vinnie Chulk is back in the Tribe fold. After being designated for assignment May 7, Chulk was put on waivers and cleared on Thursday. He accepted a Triple-A assignment (he didn't have to) and is back in Columbus. ¶
   FARM FACTS -- Michael Aubrey hit his third home run of the year and drove in two runs, as Columbus beat Lehigh Valley 4-3. ¶

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5-14-09 Morning RoundUp

By jcfortun Published: May 14, 2009

Buehrle succumbs again to Garko

By Sheldon Published: May 13, 2009

   CLEVELAND: There is only a hint of smile on the face of Ryan Garko when it is suggested that he owns Mark Buehrle. ¶
   Garko hammered the first pitch he saw from the White Sox ace in the fourth inning over the left field wall of Progressive Field with Jhonny Peralta on first to push the Indians' lead to 3-0, an advantage that would finally culminate in a 4-0 win on Wednesday. ¶
   Although Garko had never homered against Buehrle before, he has two doubles and his career batting average against the left-hander is .500 (11-for-22). ¶
   Asked to explain his success, Garko said, ""If you look at the video, not every one of those hits was hit hard. Also, I've been seeing lefties pretty good.'' ¶
   Not that good. Coming into the game, Garko was batting .333 against all left-handers. ¶
   But Buehrle seems to be a special case, an excellent starter who never has had much success against Cleveland. ¶
""He throws strikes, and we're a pretty aggressive team,'' Garko said. ""That's part of it, and we also can run a lot of right-handers up there against him. The guy also is in our division, so we see him all the time.'' ¶
   The Indians continue to struggle, but they finally won a series for only the second time this season, beating Chicago Monday but losing Tuesday night. ¶
   ""It's not necessary that we win a bunch of games in row,'' Garko said. ""But we do need to win a bunch of series in a row. I think that will get us back to where we need to be. ¶
   ""Last night, everybody was so down (losing 7-4). Some of us were saying, "But we can still win the series.' '' ¶
   Winning consecutive games has been an issue for the Tribe, which has done it just once this year. Obviously, it is easier to capture series, if the club can string a few victories together. It is one more thing that has caused the mood in the clubhouse to fluctuate. ¶
   ""It's mostly been down,'' Garko said. ""We keep talking about it. The veterans keep saying that it's a long season. This is an important trip against three pretty good teams (Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Cincinnati), and then we have a lot of home games when we come back. ¶
   ""So we're leaving on a high note and hopefully, we'll come back on a high note.'' ¶
   THE NEXT MOVE -- Travis Hafner will test his right shoulder on a rehabilitation assignment at Columbus starting Friday. ¶
   Hafner has been on the disabled list since Apirl 29 because of soreness in the shoulder that was surgically repaired last October. ¶
   What is the timeline for Hafner's return to the active roster? ¶
   ""He has to go out and play,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ""We'll find out how he handles that. He feels good, the soreness is gone. But we'll see how he deals with volume (of at-bats) before he comes back here.'' ¶
   BUNT BUSINESS -- The Indians have executed six sacrifice bunts. All six have led to runs, twice because runners scored on errors in succeeding at-bats. Three times, Grady Sizemore either singled or doubled to score the runner who was bunted to second, including Wednesday. ¶
   OTHER STUFF -- In has past 22 games, Victor Martinez is batting .402 with three home runs and 14 RBI. *elip  Cliff Lee's nine strikeouts were the most by a Tribe starter this season. *elip With 358 appearances, Rafael Betancourt has passed George Uhle to rank 10th the franchise's all-time list of games pitched. *elip The White Sox are the first team to be blanked by the Indians this year. Last year, Cleveland pitchers recorded 13 shutouts. ¶
 FARM FACTS -- Jordan Brown doubled twice and drove in one run in Columbus' 8-4 win over Lehigh Valley. Andy Marte had two singles and three RBI, and David Huff (5-1, 4.35 ERA) gave up four runs and nine hits in six innings. *elip Nate Recknagel hit his third homer of the season and drove in three runs, as Lake County beat Kannapolis 7-4. Joe Mihalic gave up one unearned run and three hits in six innings to lower his ERA to 1.91.

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Aeros Tomlin efficient in win

By jcfortun Published: May 13, 2009


Key Stats:

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5-13-09 Morning RoundUp

By jcfortun Published: May 13, 2009

Note: the video isn't working for some reason. I'll have more on the blog later, but for now here are the game stories:

Sheldon Ocker game story

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Aeros lose back-to-back games for first time this season

By sstorm Published: May 12, 2009


KEY STATS: The Aeros were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position Tuesday and are now 11-for-60 over their last seven games...Bowie, which leads the league in stolen bases (32 entering the game), added four more Tuesday by going 4-for-5 on the base paths.

KEY MOMENTS: Both teams lost their starting catchers early in the game, beginning with Bowie's Guillermo Rodriguez, who was ejected in the bottom of the first inning for arguing balls and strikes. In the fifth, the Aeros' Carlos Santana left with right forearm tightness. Aeros manager Mike Sarbaugh said after the game removing Santana was precautionary and that he's day-to-day for now.

After the score went back and forth in the early innings, Bowie took the lead for good with a three-run seventh inning against Aeros reliever Zach Putnam...Aeros third baseman Jared Goedert hit a solo home run with one out in the eighth inning, but that's as close as the Aeros would get.

STORM'S STARS: Bowie's offense ran at will and produced a 15-hit attack, led by right fielder Ambiorix Concepcion (3-for-5 with 2 doubles, 3 runs scored and an RBI) and left fielder Jonathon Tucker (3-for-5 with 2 stolen bases, 2 RBI and a run scored).

NOTES: The Indians brass moved Aeros ace Hector Rondon to the bullpen Tuesday. So instead of making his sixth start of the season, the right-hander pitched two innings of relief. It was obvious from the get-go Rondon wasn't as comfortable coming out of the 'pen as he was in his previous five starts in which he went 5-0 with a tidy 1.23 ERA. In two innings Tuesday, Rondon allowed three runs (two earned) and took the loss.

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Shapiro: Hang with us

By Sheldon Published: May 12, 2009

   CLEVELAND: It's one thing if the Indians are a fundamentally sound team going through an extended slump. It's quite another if there are large cracks in the foundation that can't be repaired without major reconstruction. ¶
   So are Rafael Perez and Jensen Lewis young relievers likely to bounce back in short order? Is the lineup that looked so pathetically weak in four games against the Tigers and Red Sox fatally flawed? ¶
   ""It starts with being a disappointment,'' General Manager Mark Shapiro said Tuesday. ""Clearly, there's a sense of urgency across the board. The response is it's sa mixture. A lot of our players have track records of consistent success but are performing well below their career averages. We believe in these guys and think they will get it done. ¶
   ""It's important for them to know that we believe in them. We're not going to turn over the whole team. ¶
  On the other hand, the Tribe probably has at least a few players who don't belong in their roles or even in the big leagues. ¶
  ""There are other problems with the club that we don't have answers for,'' Shapiro said. ""So there will be changes.'' ¶
   The bullpen -- specifically the setup tandem of Perez and Lewis -- has been the biggest obstacle to winning. ¶
   ""Probably the biggest blow to us has been Perez and what he's gone through,'' Shapiro said. ¶
   Lewis has given up far too many home runs (6 in 162/3 IP), but he has had several effective outings as well. Perez's struggles have been constant, virtually from Day 1 of the schedule. He is now at Columbus trying to work through his problems. ¶
   Shapiro reiterated the difficulty he would have in making a trade for a viable reliever. ¶
   ""I'm not going to say that I won't make the effort,'' he said. ""But the Aaron Laffey move is the kind of thinking we're going to have to do. That and using free agents (released players) plus our farm system.'' ¶
   In that regard, recently there have been hints that Akron's Hector Rondon, the No. 1 pitching prospect in the upper reaches of the Tribe's farm system, might be headed to the bullpen. ¶
   Shapiro didn't deny it, saying, ""We're open to anything.'' ¶
   Losing record aside, Shapiro thinks the club can pull itself out of the quicksand and contend for the Central Division championship. ¶
   ""In light of our division, yes,'' he said, referring to the fact that no division rival is likely to run away and hide. ""If we had to dig out of a hole and win 95 games, then no, we probably couldn't do that. But we're one streak from getting back into it. I think we're capable of doing that, clearly.'' ¶
   NO COMPLAINTS -- General Manager Mark Shapiro was informed that on Monday, manager Eric Wedge had taken ""total responsibility'' for the Indians' losing record. ¶
  ""Responsibility is across the board,'' Shapiro said. ""It is shared by the players, the coaches, the manager and the front office. But accountability, that only rests with me.'' ¶
   Shapiro did not appear to be unhappy with the job his manager is doing. ¶
   ""I believe that nobody cares more about these players than Eric,'' he said. ""I believe he's making every effort to move us in a positive direction.'' ¶
   Asked if Wedge's job will be on the line if the club is playing losing baseball in June or July, Shapiro said, ""I'm not focusing on June or July but right now.'' ¶
   FLAWED SIGNING -- It appears clear that signing Masa Kobayashi for two years and $6 million was a mistake. ¶
   Shapiro didn't necessarily disagree but said, ""There are signings that work out well and signings that don't work out at all for every team. So I would never characterize one particular signing.'' ¶
   A FIRST AT FIRST -- Matt LaPorta made his big-league debut at first base Tuesday night, and Wedge said it might not be his last appearance there for the outfielder. ¶
   ""He's been working out there,'' Wedge said. ""He's done a lot of extra work with (coach) Luis Rivera, so I want to take a look at him. Even if he's a little rough early, he'll catch on.'' ¶
   Could first become LaPorta's regular position down the road? ¶
   ""It's a possibility,'' Wedge said. ""I wouldn't rule it out, because he's such a good athlete.'' ¶
   Asked about the availability of a first baseman's glove, LaPorta smiled and said, ""It's been sitting there folded up for a couple of years.'' ¶
   ROSTER MOVE -- Jamey Carroll (fractured hand) has been activated from the disabled list and Josh Barfield was optioned to Columbus. ¶
   In three games at Triple-A, where he played on a rehab assignment, Carroll was 3-for-11 with two runs. ¶
   FARM FACTS -- Mike McGuire (3-2, 3.63 ERA) worked five scoreless innings, allowing two hits and two walks, as Lake County beat Kannapolis 1-0. Abner Abreu's second homer of the season accounted for the run. ¶

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Aeros call up McBride

By jcfortun Published: May 12, 2009

The Akron Aeros made two roster moves today as hot-hitting out fielder/first baseman Matt McBride has been called up from Class A Kinston and left-handed pitcher Ryan Edell will join the Aeros after spending time at Triple A Columbus.

They will replace outfielder John Drennen and right-handed pitcher Erik Stiller. Drennen will go to Kinston, while Stiller will go to Class A Mahoning Valley. 

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Carroll activated, Barfield sent down

By jcfortun Published: May 12, 2009

The Indians announced that infielder Jamey Carroll has been activated from the 15-day disabled list.  In order to make room for Carroll, Josh Barfield was sent down to Columbus.

Carroll fractured his left hand when he was struck by a pitch during his final at-bat of  spring training.

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5-12-09 Morning RoundUp

By jcfortun Published: May 12, 2009

The four-game losing streak has ended as the Indians beat the White Sox 9-4 last night at The Prog.

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Bowie snaps Aeros' winning streak

By sstorm Published: May 11, 2009


KEY STATS: Newly-anointed Aeros starting pitcher Erik Stiller pitched a season-high 3 1/3 innings, allowing just one earned run on two hits...Right-hander Carlton Smith came on in relief and also produced his longest outing of the season with 3 2/3 scoreless innings...Bowie snapped it's three-game losing streak with the win while Akron's three-game winning streak was halted.

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Wedge too busy to worry about job

By Sheldon Published: May 11, 2009

CLEVELAND: Once the subject of a manager's job security is broached publicly, the story tends to take on a life of its own.

After the Indians' loss to the Tigers Sunday, two players were asked whether manager Eric Wedge should be taking heat for the team's ugly start. Both players, Victor Martinez and Mark DeRosa, emphatically said the players should take the blame, not the manager.

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Is Wedge's job safe?

By jcfortun Published: May 11, 2009

It looks like it for now  at least, according to SI's John Heyman. 

"He's always been very close to Mark. I'd be shocked (if Wedge was fired),'' one competing GM said.

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Indians add journeyman Neal

By jcfortun Published: May 11, 2009

The Cleveland Indians have signed right-handed relief pitcher Blaine Neal to a minor league deal. Neal will reporter to Triple A Columbus.

Neal, 31, spent last season playing for the Toledo MudHens, the Triple A affiliate for the Detroit Tigers. He was 1-0 with a 1.21 ERA in 38 games. He had 26 saves. 

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Where is Luis Vizcaino?

By jcfortun Published: May 11, 2009

The Indians are still milling around about decisions with  right handed relief pitcher Luis Vizcaino, according to Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer.

Vizcaino, 34, has had an extended workout with the Tribe, but they are are unsure whether the former Chicago Cub should go to Columbus or come straight to Cleveland. 

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5-11-09 Morning RoundUp

By jcfortun Published: May 11, 2009

Even the Nationals have a better record than the Hapless tribe right now. How can that be?

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DeRosa still seeking comfort level

By Sheldon Published: May 10, 2009

CLEVELAND: You can tell that Mark DeRosa is new to the Indians.

The Tribe third baseman didn't see much of the darker side of baseball in his years with the Braves and Cubs.

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5-10-09 Morning Roundup

By jcfortun Published: May 10, 2009

Aeros first AA team to 21 wins

By sstorm Published: May 9, 2009


KEY STATS: The Aeros won their seventh consecutive game against slumping Harrisburg, outscoring the Sens 36-17 over that span...The Aeros entered the game as the first Double-A team across the minors to reach the 20-win mark.

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Staying mentally strong

By Sheldon Published: May 9, 2009

   Cliff Lee has one more loss than he had in all of 2008, but that doesn't mean he's not doing his job. ¶
   After giving up seven runs in five innings to the Rangers in his first start of the season, Lee had a 12.60 earned-run average. That has fallen to 3.45, despite a 1-5 record, including his tough 1-0 defeat to the Tigers Friday night. ¶
   In his past four starts, Lee has allowed a total of six runs in 31 innings for a 1.74 ERA, but he is 0-3 with one no decision, because the Tribe has scored only two runs in those games. ¶
   Despite the lack of support, Lee has resisted blaming others for his poor record. ¶
   ""When you're a No. 1 starter, you go up against a lot of other No. 1 starters,'' manager Eric Wedge said Saturday. ""It happened with C.C. Sabathia, Jake Westbrook, Kevin Millwood. You have to deal with it. ¶
   ""The only thing Cliff should be thinking about is giving his team a chance to win a ballgame. That's the only part he can control. He can't let the other stuff get to him.'' ¶
   STILL SITTING -- Slumping Jhonny Peralta was kept out of the lineup for a second consecutive night. ¶
   ""I'm not sure whether Jhonny will be back in there tomorrow or not,'' Wedge said. ""I'll have to see tomorrow.'' ¶
   GRASPING AT STRAWS -- After watching veteran reliever Luis Vizcaino in a tryout, the Indians apparently have signed him to a minor league contract, though no announcement has been made. ¶
    ""We're giving him strong consideration,'' Wedge said. ""We'll look at him for a couple of days and make a decision.'' ¶
   Vizcaino, 34, hasn't pitched since April 21, two days before he was designated for assignment by the Cubs. In four appearances with Chicago, he pitched 32/3 scoreless innings. ¶
   Last year, Vizcaino missed two months because of a shoulder injury but still pitched in 43 games, compiling a 5.28 ERA for the Rockies. ¶
   LAPORTA IN HOF -- Matt LaPorta has been in the big leagues less than a month, and already he's in the Hall of Fame. ¶
   At least his batting gloves are. LaPorta donated the gloves for an exhibit entitled ""Olympic Baseball.'' LaPorta was a member of the U.S. team that played in the 2008 Olympic Games. ¶
   STAY TUNED -- Monday night's game against the White Sox will be aired on WMMS-FM (100.7) instead of flagship station WTAM-AM because of a conflict caused by the Cavaliers' playoff game against the Atlanta Hawks. ¶
   FARM FACTS -- Lonnie Chisenhall doubled, singled and drove in two runs, as Kinston defeated Myrtle Beach 9-3. Matt McBride also had to hits and one RBI, but his average fell to .420. Paolo Espino gave up two unearned runs and three hits in five innings. ¶

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5-9-09 Morning Roundup

By jcfortun Published: May 9, 2009

One can't expect Cliff Lee to me much better than he is right now. In his last four games he has a 1.74 ERA, but as Sheldon Ocker reports, he is 0-3.

His last two starts have come up against Detroit Tiger ace Justin Verlander, who has owned the Tribe so far this season. Verlander, who used to struggle against the Indians, pitched a two hitter Friday, striking out 11 and getting a little help from his friends.

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Aeros win Friday, defeat Harrisburg

By sstorm Published: May 8, 2009


KEY STATS: Aeros centerfielder Jose Constanza continued to swing a hot bat, going 4-for-5 as he bumped his team-best hitting streak seven games. But the speedy leadoff man has really been a hitting machine during his last 13 games, a span during which he's batting .423 (22-of-52) with two doubles, a triple, five RBI, six walks, 10 runs scored and seven stolen bases.

"The one thing he's really done well this year is concentrate on getting on top of the ball," Aeros manager Mike Sarbaugh said. "All four of his hits were on the ground, and that's key for him."

KEY MOMENTS: The Aeros got on the board early with a run in the second on Nick Weglarz's sacrifice fly followed by a four-run outburst in the third inning featuring a three-run triple by third baseman Jared Goedert...Senators' Marvin Lowrance hit a two-run home run in the ninth inning, but Vinnie Pestano sat down the final two batters to quell the rally.

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Peralta gets mental health day

By Sheldon Published: May 8, 2009

  CLEVELAND: Jhonny Peralta watched Friday night's game from the bench, and he might do the same tonight. ¶
   The Indians' shortstop has been in a prolonged slump that has largely gone unnoticed in the wake of the team's bullpen crisis. Unnoticed by many but not by manager Eric Wedge. ¶
   ""I'm thinking about giving Jhonny a couple of days (off), just to let him catch his breath,'' Wedge said. ""It's something we've done before, and it's helped him.'' ¶
   However, Wedge wasn't absolutely committed to keeping Peralta off the field tonight. ¶
   ""I don't know for sure,'' he said. ""But Jhonny's really fighhting it now, offensively and a little big on defense.'' ¶
   To that end, Peralta was used as the designated hitter Thursday night against the Red Sox at Fenway Park and had an infield single in four trips to the plate, three off knuckleball specialist Tim Wakefield, so can throw a batter's swing out of whack for days. ¶
   For the season, Peralta is batting .210 with with only one home run, 10 RBI and 33 strikeouts in 105 at-bats. Lately, he hasn't done even that well, in his past 15 games batting .127 with 22 strikeouts. ¶
   It is not unusual for Peralta to get off to slow starts. Going into this season, he had a batting average of .230 in April, including a .237 average the first month of last year. In fact, April has been his least productive month, looking back at his entire career. ¶
  ""Jhonny kind of got in a bad groove,'' Wedge said. ""He finds himself repeating bad habits, and it's tougher to get out of them than it is to get into them.'' ¶
   Peralta's even tempered nature makes it difficult for people to know what he's thinking and whether a significant slump is having an effect on his mental outlook. ¶
   ""He's a tougher read than most guys,'' Wedge said. ""But he's been here long enough that I have a good feel for him.'' ¶
   Asdrubal Cabrera, moving over from second, took Peralta's place at shortstop, and rookie Luis Valbuena filled in at second Friday night. ¶
   HAFNER UPDATE -- Travis Hafner's sore shoulder feels well enough for him to take batting practice, which he did indoors Friday, since the Indians did not take their regular pregame BP. ¶
   ""I think this short period of time (on the DL) helped him,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ""Hopefully, this is all he needs.'' ¶
   On Monday, Hafner visited Dr. James Andrews, who performed surgery on the shoulder last October. Andrews told him there was nothing unusual about the post-operative soreness and that an MRI showed no new injury or a problem with the original injury. ¶
  ""We'd like to get him out on a rehab assignment as soon as we can,'' Wedge said. ¶
   ON THE WAY BACK? -- Utility infielder Jamey Carroll (fractured hand) began a rehab assignment at Columbus Friday night, but Wedge doesn't expect him to there for long. ¶
   ""We'll re-evaluate next week,'' the manager said. ¶
   THE PLAN -- Rafael Perez won't have to depend on the luck of the draw to get work at Triple-A. ¶
   ""We'll have him on some kind of schedule, maybe every other day, dcepending on how many pitches he throws,'' Wedge said. ""We want him to go out and pitch and not worry about the results.'' ¶
   As for the overall poor performance of the bullpen, Wedge said, ""We'll try to be as creative as we can. We will look outside and inside the organization for help. We need to get Perez and (Joe) Smith (on the DL) back here. But we might not be as far away as everybody thinks.''  
   APPEAL LOST -- The Indians were unable to overturn an official scorer's decision that would have given Asdrubal Cabrera three RBI in a 9-7 loss to the Tigers last Saturday. ¶
   Instead of a bases loaded double, the original ruling, the scorer changed the play to an error the next day, and that ruling will stand. ¶
   A tape of the play was reviewed by an official at Major League Baseball, and he did not deem it worthy of sending to the three-man committee that rules on appealed scoring plays. ¶
   FARM FACTS -- Matt McBride had two doubles and two singles plus three RBI, as Kinston blanked Salem 7-0 in the first game of a doubleheader. Lonnie Chisenhall had two doubles nd a single, driving in three runs, and Eric Berger yielded two hits in six innings. In the second game, McBride homered and had three RBI in Kinston's 4-3 win. *elip Abner Abreu tripled, singled twice and drove in four runs, as Lake County routed Hickory 14-6. ¶

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5-8-09 Morning RoundUp

By jcfortun Published: May 8, 2009

Could Thursday's game symbolize the rest of the Indians season? Or will the Indians, somehow turn these bullpen woes around? While it is still early in the season, its starting to get late for the Tribe and no answers are in sight.

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Cleaning up with Choo BOSTON: In the absence of Travis Hafner, the Indians do not have a prototypical power hitter to fill the cleanup spot. ¶

By Sheldon Published: May 7, 2009

   BOSTON: In the absence of Travis Hafner, the Indians do not have a prototypical power hitter to fill the cleanup spot. ¶
   So manager Eric Wedged looked up and down his bench and decided, ""It's going to be similar to last year. We're better suited to mixing and matching guys in that spot.'' ¶
   Nevertheless, since Hafner went on the disabled list with soreness in his shoulder, Wedge has opted to replace him with Shin-Soo Choo in almost every game. ¶
   An exception was Wednesday night, when Mark DeRosa took over the fourth position in the batting order against knuckleball specialist Tim Wakefield. ¶
   The last time Wakefield pitched against the Tribe, on April 27 in Cleveland, Choo was 0-for-1, drew a walk and reached when he was hit by a pitch. ¶
   Otherwise, in 11 games as the cleanup batter (he hit fourth occasionally before Hafner's injury),  Choo has done moderately well, batting .275 with two doubles, six RBI and seven walks, giving him a .396 on-base percentage. Choo has yet to hit a home run from the cleanup spot, but he has a .308 average with runners in scoring position. ¶
  ""Choo has done a pretty good job,'' Wedge said. ""I like the way he hangs in there against left-handers.'' ¶
  What made him pick Choo, other than the fact that someone had to do it? ¶
   ""I used the experience of what he did last year, and how he was swinging this year,'' Wedge said. ¶
   Choo professes not to care where he bats in the lineup as long as he's somewhere in it. ¶
   ""It's nothing different to me,'' he said. ""It's the same batting third, fourth, fifth, sixth, wherever they put me. In the minors, I usually hit third, sometimes even first.'' ¶
   Cleanup batters by definition are under more pressure to perform, because when they step in the box, there often are runners on base, and the cleanup hitter's job is to drive them in. ¶
   ""It doesn't matter about that,'' Choo said. ""One thing, I see more off-speed pitches when I bat cleanup, but in any spot, my goal is to get on base.'' ¶
   When Hafner's weak shoulder forced him out of the lineup for a long stretch of last season, Jhonny Peralta often replaced him in the fourth slot. But Peralta has been fighting a slump. ¶
   ""Jhonny is still working to get himself going,'' Wedge said. ¶
   QUICK TO PREPARE -- One reason Aaron Laffey was picked to pitch in the bullpen is that he doesn't need much time to warm up. ¶
   ""Even as a starter, I only take 30 pitches to get ready,'' he said. ""After 10-15 pitches (Tuesday night), I was ready to go.'' ¶
   That was enough to enable Laffey to pitch three scoreless innings, using only 28 pitches. ¶
    But he was negligent in one area. On the days he pitches, he wears a cross that hangs from a chain given him by his wife. He had no idea he would be pitching Tuesday night, so he left the chain at the hotel. ¶
   ""I was contemplating putting it on,'' Laffey said. ""I will absolutely wear it every day now.'' ¶
   Manager Eric Wedge decided that Laffey needed Wednesday night off after his first regular season relief appearance. ¶
  TAKING A BREAK -- Wedge ordered Grady Sizemore to take the night off. ¶
  ""It's something we talked a few days ago,'' the manager said. ""We're in the middle of 17 in a row, and this gets him off his feet. We want to make sure he stays strong all the way through.'' ¶
   As it happens, Sizemore also is 1-for-9 off Tim Wakefield, the Red Sox starter, whose knuckleball can ruin a batter's swing for several days. ¶
   TO REHAB YOU GO -- Jamey Carroll (fractured hand)  will begin a rehabilitation assignment in Columbus today. ¶
   The plan is for him to play seven innings at second in his first game, DH the second, take a day off on Sunday and play third on Monday. Carroll can spend no more than 20 days on rehab. ¶
  SIX DEGREES (OR MORE) OF SEPARATION -- No surprise that Tribe officials had little comment about Manny Ramirez's 50-game suspension for violating baseball's substance abuse policy. ¶
   ""I'd rather stay away from that,'' Wedge said. ""Manny doesn't have anything to do with us, and we don't have anything to do with him.'' ¶
   Earlier in the season, Ramirez, now a Dodger, expressed a desire to finish his career in Cleveland, where it all started for him. It wasn't going to happen then, and it's not going to happen now. ¶
  Wedge managed Ramirez for a few days when he was on a rehab assignment at Akron in 2000. ¶
   BACK IN THE FOLD -- Veteran utility player Tony Graffanino, designated for assignment last Saturday, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Columbus Wednesday.    ¶
   RED SOX WOES -- Two big boppers were held out of Boston's lineup because of injury: David Ortiz with a stiff neck and Kevin Youkilis with a strained muscle in his side. ¶
   FARM FACTS -- David Huff  (4-1, 4.05 ERA) had his first troubled start of the season, giving up five runs, four hits and three walks, as Columbus fell to Norfolk 5-2. Wes Hodges had two hits and one RBI. *elip Abner Abreu tripled, singled twice and drove in four runs in Lake County's 14-6 rout of Hickory. Chris Nash doubled twice and drove in five runs. ¶

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Manny being...suspended

By jcfortun Published: May 7, 2009

Recently Los Angles Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez spoke returning to Cleveland where his career began. Now a days he will have plenty of time to at least visit. 

Major League Baseball slapped Ramirez with a 50-game suspension today for violating its drug policy. Before everyone jumps to conclusions and places a needle in ManRam's gluteus, it should be noted that it isn't necessarily a performance enhancing drug he tested positive for. 

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5-7-09 Morning Roundup

By jcfortun Published: May 7, 2009

Sorry, folks. I have a full morning today and can't spend as much time as I would like to here. Hopefully I'll be able to update this in a few hours, but for now here are at least the links to the game stories....

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A look around the Indians minor leagues

By sstorm Published: May 6, 2009

With the parent-club Indians calling up players, demoting others and even turning starting pitchers into relievers in an effort to help right the ship, let's find some positives by checking in on the Tribe's minor league teams.

Triple-A Columbus

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Laffey assigned to save bullpen

By Sheldon Published: May 6, 2009

With few moves to make and lots of holes to fill in the Indians' bullpen, General Manager Mark Shapiro and manager Eric Wedge are using the creative approach.

Why not ask a starter to become a reliever, at least temporarily, or maybe not. At this point, nobody can say when the bullpen crisis will end, or how it will turn out. 

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Perez optioned to Columbus

By jcfortun Published: May 6, 2009

The Cleveland Indians just announced in a press release that left-handed set up man Rafael Perez has been optioned down to Triple A Columbus. Taking his place on the 25-man roster will be right hander Matt Herges.

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5-6-09 Morning RoundUp

By jcfortun Published: May 6, 2009

The headline on Sheldon Ocker's game story says it all:

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Barfield sees the whole spectrum

By Sheldon Published: May 5, 2009

Josh Barfield took a whirlwind tour of the best and worst that baseball has to offer Monday night.

In a span of four innings, Barfield went from hero to goat to hero again, as the Indians rallied three times to earn a 9-7, 12-inning win over the Blue Jays. 

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Fangraphs analyzes Indians last three drafts

By jcfortun Published: May 5, 2009

The in depth analysis blog FanGraphs posted a look at the Indians last three amateur drafts and examines what they will do in this year's draft...Check it out. 

2007 Draft Slot: 13th overall
Top Pick: Beau Mills, 1B, Lewis-Clark State college
Best Pick: Mills, from a weak pool of picks
Worst Pick: T.J. McFarland, LHP, Illinois high school
Notes: The club drafted slugger in 1B Beau Mills and then did not pick again until the fourth round, which certainly hurt in terms of depth. No one else has really stepped up their game since then. Prep pick T.J. McFarland has a history of elbow problems and he hasn’t looked very good since signing.

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5-5-09 Morning RoundUp

By jcfortun Published: May 5, 2009

Yesterday I pulled up the Indians statistics for runners in scoring position with two outs and it wasn't pretty. The Indians have the worst batting average during those situations in the entire league at .160. They had only driven in 26 runs.

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5-4-09 Morning RoundUp

By jcfortun Published: May 4, 2009

The kids were in the lineup yesterday. It still didn't matter as the Indians fell 3-1 to the Tigers.

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DeRosa back on track

By Sheldon Published: May 3, 2009

The siege appears to be over for Mark DeRosa, whose batting average fell to .195 in the middle of last week before his bat began to spit out a few hits.

The slump cost DeRosa the No. 2 spot in the batting order, which now belongs to Asdrubal Cabrera, who does not intend to surrender it any time soon. But that's not what's important to DeRosa, who in the past six games is batting .360 (9-for-25) with two home runs, seven runs and four RBI.

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5-3-09 Morning RoundUp

By jcfortun Published: May 3, 2009

Rafael Betancourt step right up. It's your turn to cough up a lead!

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May 2, 2009 Morning RoundUp

By jcfortun Published: May 2, 2009

If only they could get that bullpen straightened out as well.

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LaPorta, Valbuena get first shot at bigs

By Sheldon Published: May 1, 2009

You want moves? Eric Wedge will give you moves.

After Friday night's 6-5 win over the Tigers, the Indians' skipper announced three roster moves involving six players.

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Dellucci aims to lift spirits in clubhouse

By Sheldon Published: May 1, 2009

Despite the Indians' struggles the first month of the season, David Dellucci does not regard his primary task as mission impossible.

"The most important thing I can do is loosen up the clubhouse, do what I do in there,'' said Dellucci, who was activated from the disabled list Friday after spending 11 days on a rehabilitation assignment in Columbus.

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Indians-Tigers lineups

By jcfortun Published: May 1, 2009

INDIANS (8-14):
CF Grady Sizemore
2B Asdrubal Cabrera
1B Victor Martinez
LF Shin-Soo Choo
3B Mark DeRosa
SS Jhonny Peralta
DH David Dellucci
RF Ben Francisco
C Kelly Shoppach.
Pitching: RHP Carl Pavano 0-3, 9.50 ERA.

TIGERS (11-10):
CF Curtis Granderson
2B Placido Polanco
DH Magglio Ordonez
1B Miguel Cabrera
LF Carlos Guillen
C Gerald Laird
3B Brandon Inge
RF Josh Anderson
SS Adam Everett
Pitching: RHP Armando Galarraga, 3-0, 1.85 ERA.

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Dellucci recalled, Rundles sent down

By jcfortun Published: May 1, 2009

The Cleveland Indians just announced in a press release that outfielder David Dellucci is being activated from the 15-day disabled list. Left-handed pitcher Rich Rundles, who was brought up for one game to relieve an exhausted pitching staff, will return to Columbus.

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A weekly look at the Tribe's minor leagues

By sstorm Published: May 1, 2009

There may not be a whole lot to cheer about with the Indians these days, but let's check out what some of the team's minor leaguers are up to with the season just about a month old.

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Morning Roundup May 1, 2009

By jcfortun Published: May 1, 2009

Here, on the first day of May it feels like the AL Central standings are upside down...

April is such an odd month for baseball. Nevermind the records, take a look at the runs scored compared to the runs allowed though. Currently The Indians have score more runs than any team in the division, If only they didn't lead in runs allowed too.... 

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