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Cleveland Indians

Rookies a drag on Tribe attack

By Sheldon Published: September 18, 2009

OAKLAND, Calif.: Slumps don't mean as much at this time of year if a team is not in contention for the playoffs. Even defeat loses much of its impact when a club isn't going anywhere but home when the schedule concludes. [ep
So is it irrelevant that the Indians have lost five in a row (14 of 17) and are batting .184 over this brief span? The games still count, because players are competing for future employment, and it is hoped that pride energizes them to play hard. [ep
Manager Eric Wedge views his team's current offensive skid this way: ""It's more on us (than a consequence of good pitching). A couple of things are happening. We don't have that many veterans in there, and they're trying to do too much, because they see we're playing a lot of young kids.'' [ep
Since the trades that rid the team of Victor Martinez, Mark DeRosa, Ryan Garko and Ben Francisco, the bottom four spots in the Tribe's batting order have usually been manned by rookies or near-rookies. [ep
That is almost half the lineup, and after awhile the inexperience is going to manifest itself as a lack of offense. For the five games preceding the Tribe's contest with the Athletics Friday night, it is averaging 2.4 runs. [ep
""They're going to have young at-bats,'' Wedge said. ""Eventually, they get better, but they're going to have inconsistencies.'' [ep
At times, rookies will start their careers with a rush then take one or two steps back. How they react to their first major-league failure can be an important juncture in their career. [ep
""There definitely is going to be some fall back at some point,'' Wedge said. ""Sometimes a player will hit the ground running, then fall back. That's when he has to dig himself out of it.'' [ep
A novice athlete in any sport has to fight the emotions that make him doubt his ability. What does Wedge recall of his rookie season in the majors? [ep
""It's survival at first,'' he said. ""Then it's (concern) about how you perform. Usually a rookie doesn't get to play every day, so when he does play he wants to make an impact. That just makes things harder on him.'' [ep
Players seldom admit to worrying about their futures, but in an occupation that can precisely measure success and failure using various sets of numbers, it's difficult not to think about where you stand. [ep
""That's always in the back of your mind,'' Wedge said. ""In pro sports in general, with veterans near the end of the their careers and guys starting out, there is always somebody trying to take your job. So you're trying to establish yourself and be able to make a liviing.'' [ep
Trevor Crowe is one of the Indians' rookies trying to establish himself as a bona fide big-league player. So what's the hardest part about being a rookie? [ep
""Just learning a new routine,'' he said. ""What time to come in, getting comfortable with your teammates. You want to be yourself, but you also want to respect guys who've been here, who have some service time. [ep
""You worry about being on time and doing things the right way. What veteran guys respect is how you prepare and how you treat them.'' [ep
Initially, Crowe did not mention concern about his own performance. [ep
""Obvously, you want to play well, no matter what,'' he said. ""But the main thing these guys look at is not just whether you're trying, but whether you're prepared.'' [ep
EXPECTATIONS HIGH -- Will Michael Brantley have a chance to compete for an everyday job in the Indians' lineup next spring? [ep
""I believe he could,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ""I believe he should. A prospective outfield of Shin-Soo Choo, Grady Sizemore and Brantley is going to run a lot of balls down.'' [ep
Brantley has yet to show an ability to drive the ball, but that's fine with Wedge. [ep
""If he sprays the ball around, hits balls in front of outfielders, hits balls in the gaps, that will be fine,'' Wedge said. ""I think he'll get his share of doubles and triples. I look at him as a leadoff type of guy.'' [ep
Could Brantley be an alternative to Sizemore in the leadoff spot? ""He could be,'' Wedge said. [ep
ONE MORE DAY -- Asdrubal Cabrera's sore knee kept him out of the lineup Friday night, but he thinks he will play today. [ep
""I'm taking batting practice and ground balls,'' he said. ""I'll be ready tomorrow.'' [ep
Wedge confirmed Cabrera's opinion and said he was ready at least to pinch hit Friday night. Cabrera fouled a ball off his knee in Minnesota Tuesday night. [ep
DAY OF REST -- Cabrera wasn't the only one missing from the lineup. Luis Valbuena and Travis Hafner got the night off. [ep
""Valbuena has played more this year than he ever has,'' Wedge said. ""The season has definitely been more extreme for him, and there are signs showing that.'' [ep
WHO KNEW? -- Since the All-Star Game, Jeremy Sowers is ninth with a 3.18 ERA among American League pitchers with at least 40 innings of work. He has a 4-2 record in nine starts. [ep

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