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Relievers wanted: Call Tribe

By Sheldon Published: April 17, 2009

The knee bone's connected to the thigh bone, and the thigh bone's is connected to the hip bone...

Depending on whether all the parts of work together, life will be easier or a struggle. Eric Wedge is painfully aware of this fact, which is a key component of the Indians' 3-8 record. 

The Tribe's relief corps is driving the manager up a wall. But the struggles of the bullpen also are associated with the inability of the starters to do their job.

The Indians held a 5-3 lead going into the sixth inning Friday, but they couldn't hold it and ultimately lost 6-5 to the Yankees.

After Anthony Reyes pitched five innings, the bullpen was in charge (actually it never quite took charge). Zach Jackson and Jensen Lewis each gave up a solo homer, and Vinnie Chulk was his own worst enemy, allowing an unearned run on his own error. 

  ""I feel bad for Anthony,'' Lewis said. ""He gave us a chance to win. The hitters, too. They gave us the lead, and we didn't hold it. But I'd rather get that stuff out of the way now.''

But the current difficulties of the bullpen won't necessarily diminish with time. 

""The bullpen is working pretty hard right now, and it's affecting us,'' Wedge said. ""But they have to try and hold on. We need to have those guys step up, and the starters have to go deeper into games.'' 

Probably the biggest hole in the bullpen has been caused by the ineffectiveness of Rafael Perez, who was expected to be a lock down pitcher in the seventh and eighth innings. 

And because of the bullpen's problems, the Tribe is carrying eight relievers for the short term, one more than the norm. But the group that is here now might be subject to change. 

""We're going to look at everything,'' Wedge said. ""We've already started on that road, re-assessing things. I think we have to right now.''

But the rotation is part of the reason the bullpen has struggled. Only three times in 11 games has a starter lasted six innings.

""It still starts with the starting pitching,'' Wedge said. ""We have to get more than five innings from our starters. There's not a bullpen out there that can survive that.''

If Wedge is hinting that the club might drop down and pluck a reliever from Columbus, there are few obvious choices. At the moment, Matt Herges ( 0.00 ERA, 41/3 IP) and John Meloan (0.00 ERA, 5 IP) have the best numbers. 

ACHING ELBOW -- Jhonny Peralta was held out of Friday's game after a collision at the plate with Yankee catcher Jorge Posada in Thursday's series opener. 

""Jhonny's elbow is a little sore,'' Wedge said. ""We're taking it day to day. (Head trainer Lonnie Soloff) wants to see how the treatment goes today, and we'll go from there.''

Depending on how the elbow responds to treatment, Peralta might be asked to undergo an X-ray or MRI scan. 

Peralta said he twisted his elbow when he ran into Posada's shin guard, as the catcher tried to block the plate.

""That's a reason to go feet first into the plate every time,'' Wedge said. 

HAFNER RETURNS -- After sitting out Thursday, Travis Hafner was back in the lineup Friday and will remain there through the weekend series.

""I want him to face the three right-handers,'' Wedge said. ""He was not going to play all four, anyway.''

Wedge preferred that Hafner not be in the lineup against CC Sabathia, a lefty.

STILL MENDING -- Jamey Carroll isn't close to returning to the active roster after fracturing a finger and going on the disabled list April 6. 

""We're hoping he can do something involving baseball activity during the next homestand,'' Wedge said.

SOCIAL NOTE -- When Wedge's daughter Ava turned three on Friday, the manager went high tech to wish his daughter a happy birthday.

""I talked to her on a Web cam,'' Wedge said. 

FARM FACTS -- Toma Ohka (1-0, 3.00 ERA) pitched six scoreless innings, allowing five hits in Columbus' 2-1 win over Toledo. Matt LaPorta hit his second home run of the season with nobody on base... Eric Berger yielded one run in five innings, but Kinston lost 7-2 to Wilmington. Tim Fedroff doubled twice and singled... Alexander Perez worked seven scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out seven as Lake County blanked Delmarva 3-0. Donnie Webb had two singles and drove in two runs, and Adam White had three hits.

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