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Cleveland Indians

Laffey stumbles, comes off DL, anyway

By Sheldon Published: July 7, 2009

CHICAGO: How many pitchers are rewarded with a promotion to the big leagues after giving up 10 runs in 7 1/3 innings during their final two minor-league starts?

At least one: Aaron Laffey.

Laffey will the Indians' starter tonight against the White Sox in his first major-league appearance since May 22, the day before he was placed in the disabled list with a strained right oblique.

At the time, Laffey had been transformed from starter to reliever because of a bullpen that had fallen into a sea of quicksand and was sinking fast. The relief corps has stabilized -- at least it has pulled one leg out of the muck -- and manager Eric Wedge needs Laffey's skills to shore up a shaky rotation.

It is a measure of the starters' instability that Laffey is being allowed to come off the DL, despite the ineffectiveness he showed in his last two rehabilitation starts, one at Akron the other at Columbus.

In his July 2 outing with the Clippers, Laffey gave up seven runs in four innings. In his previous start, for the Aeros, he gave up three runs in 3 1/3 innings. Worse, he walked six. But all of these indiscretions are being overlooked.

"The walks were a concern,'' Wedge said Tuesday. "The next start, he threw the ball over the plate better; he was working on his four-seamer. Afterward, we talked about it and felt that this was the time to get him up here.''

Working on his four-seam fastball led to some unwanted results for Columbus.

"The first inning was a nightmare,'' Laffey said. ""After that, I stayed on top of the ball and threw strikes. For the most part, I kept the ball on the ground. The outing was validated by (Clippers pitching coach) Scott Radinsky's report.''

Laffey's two-seasm sinker was in good working in order, but he was having trouble taming the four-seamer and wasn't going to quit throwing it until he conquered the pitch.

"It took me four innings to establish the pitch,'' he said. "For me, it wasn't about the results. I have to have command of the four-seamer. I can't just rely on my sinker. ''

Wedge seemed satisfied with that explanation. What didn't sit well with the Tribe brass were the six walks issued in the Akron game.

"When I walked all those guys, they told me it more about results,'' Laffey said.

Had the results been better, Laffey would have been activated earlier.

ANSWERS AFTER THE BREAK -- Manager Eric Wedge will juggle his rotation and stir the pot in the bullpen in the next week, but the Indians' roster probably won't settle in until some time after the All-Star Game.

Rafael Betancourt (strained groin) made a rehab appearance at Columbus Tuesday night and probably will rejoin the tribe some time this week, according to Wedge, necessitating a roster move.

With Laffey coming off the DL to start tonight, another player will be lopped off the team. At the moment, there are nine pitchers in the bullpen and (because of numerous off days) only four starters.

That mix might remain the same even after Laffey and Betancourt are added to the roster. However, at some point, there is likely to be a reduction in the number of relievers and the rotation is sure to return to five starters.

"Before the break, we'll probably stay the way we are,'' Wedge said. ""I don't think it's mandatory (to change) right now. There still is a lot of uncertainty with our starters and relievers.''

After the All-Star break, Wedge will rearrange his rotation and probably bring the number of position players and pitchers back to the normal mix.

Included in the rotation shuffle could be Fausto Carmona, who will start for Columbus on Friday.

KUDOS TO MARTE -- For the second week in a row, Columbus third baseman Andy Marte was selected as International League's Batter of the Week for the period of June 29-July 5.

Over that span, he batted .458 with two homers, six doubles and six RBI. For the season, Marte is batting .322 with 11 home runs and 46 RBI.

SIGNEE -- The Tribe signed infielder Justin Toole as a non-drafted minor-league free agent. As a senior at the University of Iowa this year, Toole batted .346. His overall average for three years was .360. He has been assigned to Mahoning Valley.

FARM FACTS -- T.J. House worked five scoreless innings, giving up four hits and three walks, as Lake County defeated Greensboro 5-1... Brett Brach delivered six scoreless innings, allowing two hits and two walks, as Mahoning Valley defeated Jamestown 4-3. Jordan Henry had three hits, including a double.

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