CLEVELAND: It has become the norm for manager Eric Wedge to maneuver the Indians around the diamond as if they were interchangeable parts on an assembly line. [ep
No fewer than eight players have shared left field, though Ben Francisco has started more games at the position (29) than anyone else. [ep
Nevertheless, Mark DeRosa, traded last weekend to the Cardinals, played left 15 times; Shin-Soo Choo has spent 12 games in left, with Matt LaPorta (7), Trevor Crowe (6), Ryan Garko (5), Chris Gimenez (3) and David Dellucci (1) also logging time there. [ep
In addition to DeRosa, LaPorta, Crowe and Dellucci no longer are on the roster, but that still leaves four current Tribe players who have experienced the joys of playing left. [ep
And be advised that six players have taken turns as starters in right, led by Choo (56 games). DeRosa was in right eight times, Francisco has played six games at the position, LaPorta four, and Garko and Crowe two each. [ep
Second base has been home to five players: Asdrubal Cabrera has started 28 games at second and it would have been more if he hadn't spent time on the disabled list. Jamey Carroll is next with 23 starts at second, and Luis Valbuena has 20. Tony Graffanino, back at Buffalo, started four games at second and Josh Barfield made three starts there. [ep
Wedge talked a lot about the value of having ""versatility'' on the roster in spring training, and he prepped his players during the exhibition season by using them in unfamiliar positions. Nevertheless, he insists he did not plan to mix and match during the season. [ep
""We've done it by necessity,'' he said Tuesday. ""In the spring, I just knew it might be a possibility.'' [ep
Did Wedge believe that at certain positions no single player was capable of holding down an everyday job? [ep
""I didn't feel that way,'' he said. ""I never felt that one guy couldn't play the same position every day. In fact, I thought a guy like DeRosa could be an everyday player at more than one position.'' [ep
Now that DeRosa is gone, at least one player will find his way into the lineup more often. [ep
""I'm going to try a little more to get Garko regular at-bats,'' the manager said. [ep
Garko has played more first base (32 games) than any other position, but he still is an option in left for Wedge, who has opted to use catcher Victor Martinez at first for 39 games,. That has allowed Kelly Shoppach to get behind the plate 41 times, three more than Martinez. [ep
Wedge has expressed a desire to settle into a regular lineup. [ep
""Nothing is set in stone, but I feel good about the direction some of our young players are going,'' he said. [ep
LAST TUNEUP? -- Aaron Laffey (right oblique strain) is scheduled to make what might be his last rehab start for Columbus, when the Clippers play at Toledo Friday night. Laffey will be expected to pitch five to six innings and throw 80-95 pitches. [ep
It's possible that on the same night, Rafael Betancourt (strained groin) will join him at Toledo on a rehabilitation assignment. Betancourt will throw a two-inning, 35-pitch simulated game today, which will be his fifth time throwing off the mound. If everything goes well, he probably will be headed for Toledo. [ep
IN GOOD COMPANY -- As part of a Sports Illustrated poll of players that will appear in this week's edition of the magazine, Eric Wedge finished in a tie for fourth to the question, ""Which manager would you least want to play for?'' Players were not permitted to vote for their own manager. [ep
Lou Piniella, manager of the Cubs, drew the most votes (26 percent), followed by Ozzie Guillen of the White Sox (21 percent), Tony La Russa of the Cardinals (10 percent) with Wedge and Dodgers manager Joe Torre deadlocked at four percent apiece. [ep
Wedge is the only manager among the group who has not won at least one World Series. [ep
SURGERY COMING? -- Grady Sizemore will play the rest of the season in at least a little pain. [ep
""In our opinion, Grady will by sympomatic for the balance of the season,'' head trainer Lonnie Soloff said. ""Our hope is to keep him away from the (kind of) symptoms that would affect his perfomance.'' [ep
Sizemore recently came off the disabled list with inflammation of the lining of the left elbow. The condition has diminished in severity, but it's unlikely to disappear on its own. [ep
Asked if postseason surgery was likely, Soloff said, ""There's a high index of suspicion for that.'' [ep
LEWIS SEEKS SECOND OPINION -- Scott Lewis pulled himself out of his last rehab start in Akron after 65 pitches with soreness in his left elbow. [ep
""He didn't feel like he was 100 percent because of his symptoms,'' Soloff said. ""He going to visit Dr. (James) Andrews for a second opinion next week. Surgery might be an option, but in our opinion it is not the best option.' [ep
Lewis is on the DL with a strained elbow, but as a collegian at Ohio State, he underwent Tommy John surgery. [ep
READY FOR A RESTART -- Jake Westbrook (Tommy John surgery) has gone two weeks without throwing and the soreness in his elbow has disappeared. [ep
""Jake will initiate a throwing program Thursday that will last two to four weeks,'' Soloff said. ""We are still hoping to get him back around the end of July or early August.'' [ep
FARM FACTS -- Jensen Lewis made his first appearance for Columbus and gave up one hit and one walk in 21/3 innings. He struck out three. *elip Cord Phelps had three hits and three RBI in Kinston's 6-5 loss to Myrtle Beach. *elip Delvi Cid and Nate Recknagel each had three hits in Lake County's 9-6 win over Hagerstown. Recknagel drove in three runs, Cid two. [ep
BINGHAMTON METS 1, AKRON AEROS 0 - 10 innings
KEY STATS: With the loss, the Aeros snapped their consecutive series' wins at seven...B-Mets starter Dylan Owen entered the game with a 0-5 mark and 6.83 ERA but blanked the Aeros through a season-high 7 2/3 innings to go along with a season-high seven strikeouts.
KEY MOMENTS: Aeros starter Jeanmar Gomez shutout the B-Mets through six innings and right-handed reliever Carlton Smith followed with three hitless innings...Binghamton broke the scoreless tie with with a run in the 10th against Aeros closer Vinnie Pestano. Ruben Tejada led off the extra frame with a single, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, took third on a ground out and scored the game winner on Josh Thole's single...The Aeros made it interesting in the bottom of the 10th against former Akron reliever Jim Ed Warden, with Jared Goedert leading off with a single to right. Speedster Jose Constanza looked to beat out his bunt that moved Goedert to second, but was called out in a close play. But Warden hit Jerad Head to put two men on and was taken out of the game in favor of right-hander Connor Robertson. Despite coming on to face the meat of the Akron lineup, Robertson quickly quelled the threat by inducing Nick Weglarz to hit into a fielder's choice that erased Head then coaxed Carlos Santana to ground out to end the game.
STORM'S STAR: With three more shutout innings, Smith raised his consecutive scoreless innings streak to 16 2/3 - spanning his last seven outings.
UP NEXT: The Aeros hit the road en route to Bowie (Baltimore Orioles) to open a seven-game road trip that begins with a four-game series against the Baysox tonight. Indians right-hander Fausto Carmona (0-0, 0.00 ERA) is scheduled to pitch for the Aeros on a major league rehab assignment facing Bowie right-hander Radhames Liz (2-0, 3.00 ERA).
RADIO: WARF (1350 am).
CLEVELAND: Chris Perez is only 23, but he's been there before. Where? In a bad bullpen. ¶
The Indians traded Mark DeRosa for Perez Saturday night to help upgrade their relief corps, and Perez reported for work in Cleveland on Monday. To make room for him on the roster, Josh Barfield was optioned to Triple-A. ¶
Speaking of his first stint in the majors last year, Perez said, ""It wasn't a good situation. We were leading the league in blown saves. But you can't put too much pressure on yourself. It's still a baseball game. So I got experience with that last year.'' ¶
In a span of less than two weeks, the Tribe has acquired three new relievers: Mike Gosling and Jose Veras, in addition to Perez. At the moment, the bullpen is stuffed with eight pitchers, one more than the norm. ¶
The trade took Perez by surprise, but it wasn't entirely unexpected. ¶
""The Cardinals never came to me and said, "You're on the trading block,' '' Perez said. ""But my dad, he reads all that (rumor) stuff. A player can't listen to too much of that. So Saturday I had no idea. But I thought it might be Oakland, that we were trying to get (Matt) Holliday.'' ¶
Perez said he hasn't gotten much work lately, because in his mind, St. Louis was trying to deal him. ¶
""The first two months, I got regular work every two or three days,'' he said. ""That's when I'm at my best. This last month, they were trying to trade me, and they were throwing me every five or six days. That's a tough adjustment to make. I have to throw a lot to keep my slider at full capability. So that wasn't a good situation.'' ¶
Perez comes to Cleveland having posted a 1-1 record with one save and a 4.18 earned-run average in 232/3 innings (29 appearances). ¶
Like most career relievers -- Perez has worked out of the bullpen dating back to his years at the University of Miami -- he aspires to become a closer. ¶
""That's my dream, this year, next year, a couple of years down the road,'' Perez said. ""I hope to do that somewhere.'' ¶
Manager Eric Wedge doesn't plan to supplant Kerry Wood with Perez, but he is hoping that after the newcomer gets acclimated to a new team and new league, he will work his way toward the back of the bullpen. ¶
""I had a good talk with him,'' Wedge said. ""He has a lot of energy, and he's happy to be here. We have a new look to our bullpen; there's been a lot of turnover. We'll ease him in the first time out, but I think he has a bright future.'' ¶
ONE MORE TIME -- Aaron Laffey expressed a desire to return to the Indians immediately and end his stint on the disabled list after a rehab start in Akron Sunday in which he gave up three runs, five hits and six walks in 31/3 innings. ¶
However, Laffey's wish will not be granted. ¶
""We're going to give him one more start,'' manager Eric Wedge said on Monday. ""He felt good, but we need to see a little more than that.'' ¶
Laffey's next start will be at Columbus. ¶
Whereas Laffey's rehab assignment might end this week, Rafael Betancourt's is likely to begin. He is scheduled to throw a simulated game Wednesday and could begin a rehab assignment over the weekend. ¶
Betancoourt has been on the DL with a strained groin. ¶
GOING FOR IT -- Travis Hafner's two-games-on, one-off routine is scheduled to end this week. ¶
""We're hoping to play Travis is all three games against Chicago,'' Wedge said. ¶
Until now, Hafner was rested every third day to ease the burden on his surgically repaired shoulder. ¶
Asdrubal Cabrera, who came off the disabled list Sunday, will play two days of every three for the time being. Cabrera was on the DL with a strained AC (shoulder) joint. ¶
ANOTHER SIGNEE -- The Tribe signed its 26th-round pick in the amateur draft, Antwonie Hubbard, a right-hander from the University of Okilahoma. ¶
AWARD TIME -- Columbus third baseman Andy Marte was selected International League Batter of the Week for hitting .478 with eight RBI for the week ending Sunday. Overall, Marte is batting .307 and leads the team in home runs (9) and RBI (40). *elip Akron outfielder Nick Weglarz has been named Eastern League Player of the Week for the second time this year. For the week ending Sunday, he batted .450 with two doubles, four home runs and 12 RBI. ¶
FARM FACTS -- Jordan Brown doubled, singled twice and drove in two runs, as Columbus lost to Durham 8-7. Wyatt Toregas hit his seventh homer of the year and singled, driving in three runs, and Trevor Crowed had two singles. *elip Lonnie Chisenhall tripled and doubled, driving in one run, as Kinston defeated Myrtle Beach 7-4. Lucas Montero homered, singled and had two RBI. *elip Delvi Cid had a double and two singles, driving in one run in Lake County's 8-7 win over Hagerstown. ¶
CLEVELAND: Mark DeRosa is gone, but manager Eric Wedge still has plenty of players with which he can mix and match in the Indians' infield. ¶
However, now that DeRosa has been traded to the Cardinals and the Tribe has gotten three regulars back from the disabled list, Wedge is looking to stabilize his lineup rather than continue to fill certain positions with three different players. ¶
Asdrubal Cabrera was activated from the DL Sunday, joining Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore as returning everyday players who were sidelined with injuries for at least a month. There are temporary restrictions on how much they play, but at least they can play. ¶
Luis Valbuena, who has been playing mostly shortstop lately, will move back to second, and Cabrera will return to short, where he has been the regular since Jhonny Peralta moved to third several weeks ago. ¶
Jamey Carroll will no longer play every day, though he will get more than a few reps at both second and third. ¶
""I think the dynamic can work very well,'' Wedge said. ""We can pretty much do whatever we want with those three guys.'' ¶
Sizemore will be in center field every day. In his absence, Ben Francisco played there most of the time, but he has been mired in a slump. Shin-Soo Choo has taken over right field, but left still is unsettled. ¶
DeRosa played left 12 times, but Francisco has played there more than anyone else. However, unless his bat comes around, first baseman Ryan Garko, who has started in left five times, might see more time there. ¶
""I'm looking forward to having a more consistent lineup,'' Wedge said. ""Hopefully, guys will be able to play more on an everyday basis. We're going to catch our breath now, and these guys are going to get it all together.'' ¶
Wedge did mention one cautionary note: The bullpen had to improve and the starters were going to have to pitch more than five innings to give the relievers a better chance to succeed without wearing themselves out. ¶
THE DIFFERENCE -- Trading Mark DeRosa to St. Louis Saturday night is not comparable to trading C.C. Sabathia to Milwaukee last year. ¶
Who says? ¶
""This year is different than last year,'' Kelly Shoppach saidc. ""Last year, we got prospects for C.C. Yes, we're going to miss DeRosa, but we brought in a buy who can help us now (reliever Chris Perez). We all want to win. Whether we can still get back in this, we want to win now.'' ¶
Added manager Eric Wedge, ""It's completely different. We're trying to get better in an area of need. If we can get our bullpen in order and get more out of our starting pitchers, we can get better in a hurry.'' ¶
NL WOES -- The Indians completed interleague play Sunday with a 5-13 record, including 2-4 against the Reds. Since the outset of interleague play in 1997, the Tribe is 113-116 against the National League. ¶
""We've got to do better against the National League,'' Wedge said. ""I'm glad it's (interleague play) is over, because we didn't play well.'' ¶
DWINDLING DL --- The Tribe's disabled list shrunk to five after Asdrubal Cabrera was activated on Sunday. ¶
Cabrera sustained a strained AC (shoulder) joint on June 2 and went on the DL the next day. He returned to the leadoff spot in the lineup and singled in his first at-bat. ¶
Saturday night's trade of Mark DeRosa to the Cardinals Saturday night opened up a roster spot for Cabrera. ¶
FARM FACTS -- Russell Young gave up two runs and eight hits in seven innings, but Kinston lost 3-2 to Salem. *elip Delvi Cid doubled and singled twice in Lake County's 4-3 loss to Hagerstown. Danny Salazar gave up one earned run (two total) and six hits in five innings. ¶
CLEVELAND: The symbolism was accidental. [ep
Nevertheless, at the 11th hour Saturday night, the Indians acquired a reliever as the clock reached a more significant 11th hour, in terms of the team's chances to salvage something from the season. [ep
After a 7-3 loss to the Reds at Progressive Field, General Manager Mark Shapiro announced that he had traded infielder/outfielder Mark DeRosa to the Cardinals for right-handed reliever Chris Perez, a hard-throwing 23-year-old. [ep
""We feel we've acquired a pitcher who's upside is pitching in the back end of the bullpen and someone who will be under our control for multiple years,'' Shapiro said. ""He has two things: (good) stuff and swing and miss (capabilities). His fastball is 93-95 miles per hour, and he has touched 98. He also has a swing and miss slider.'' [ep
In addition to Perez, the Tribe obtained a player to be named from a list of minor leaguers. [ep
""We can take the rest of the season to scout him in the minor leagues or (make up our minds) before,'' Shapiro said. ""This is a piece that is of signicant value for us.'' [ep
Asked if the player were two or more years from reaching the big leagues, Shapiro said, ""That would not be a safe statement to make.'' [ep
Perez is 1-1 with one save and a 4.18 earned-run average in 29 appearances for St. Louis. In 232/3 innings, he has struck out 30, but he also has walked the unacceptable number of 15. He began the year at Triple-A Memphis. [ep
""He still has some development to do,'' Shapiro said. [ep
Where does he fit in the Tribe's current bullpen? [ep
""Our main goal is to just to put him in a good position and go from there,'' the GM said. [ep
Trading DeRosa does not signal that the Indians are giving up on the season. [ep
""The move has a chance to help us this year,'' Shapiro said. ""We are bringing in a piece in an area that sorely needs to be addressed.'' [ep
DeRosa had mixed feelings about the deal. [ep
""I'm disappointed in the sense that I'd like to rewind the season and start over again here,'' he said. ""The toughest part will be leaving these guys. But from a selfish standpoint, I'm going to a team that's fighting for a division championship.'' [ep
The Cardinals and Brewers are in a pitched battle for the National League Central Division title. [ep
After a slow start, DeRosa is batting .270 with 13 home runs and 50 RBI in 278 at-bats. [ep
He has been hearing trade rumors about himself for weeks on radio and television, but Saturday night's deal caught him by surprise. [ep
""I read about it every night,'' he said. ""But there was nothing today that made me expect anything until I was left out of the lineup. So I'm not shocked.'' [ep
Maybe the question should not by why Jensen Lewis was demoted to clear a roster a spot for Jose Veras, but how he avoided being sent to the minors earlier? [ep
Lewis has struggled virtually the entire season, compiling a 2-3 record and 5.03 earned-run average in 28 appearances. He had problems with his command, not with finding the plate but finding too much of the plate. In 391/3 innings, he gave up nine home runs, an average of one every 41/3 innings. [ep
""Jensen was someone we were talking about, because we knew that Veras would be here in two or three days,'' manager Eric Wedge said Saturday. ""We had other chances to send him out, but we wanted to give him a chance to work through things. [ep
""We just didn't see consistent control to keep him up here, especially in a crucial role.'' [ep
Lewis and Rafael Perez, who also has disappointed, began the season as co-setup men, a job both lost many weeks ago. [ep
At times, even recently, Lewis talked as if his problems were behind him, as if he refused to face the truth. [ep
""He does that to everybody, and it works against him,'' Wedge said. ""Carl (pitching coach Carl Willis) had a good conversation with him yesterday. And Jensen was respectful in the office after the game (when he was told to report to Columbus). [ep
""There's nothing wrong with him going back down there and working on his craft.'' [ep
WHAT THEY LIKE -- Right-hander Jose Veras reported to the Tribe Saturday after being acquired from the Yankees on Wednesday. ¶
He comes from New York after compiling a 3-1 record and 5.96 ERA in 25 relief appearances. Among his outings were three against Cleveland. In those he gave up six runs in four innings. ¶
""He's got a good arm, and he pitched in some big games for them,'' Wedge said. ""The experience of pitching in New York should help him, and last year he played an important role for them. He's not that far away from that.'' ¶
In 2008, Veras posted a 5-3 record, 3.59 ERA, walking 29 and striking out 63 in 572/3 innings. ¶
ABOUT TIME -- Friday night was the first game since April 28 that Victor Martinez, Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner were all in the lineup. The Tribe beat the Red Sox that night 9-8 and defeated the Reds 9-2 Friday. ¶
LOCAL SIGNEE -- The Indians signed their 20th-round pick in the amateur draft, right-hander Kyle Smith, who attends Kent State and lives in Louisville in Stark County. ¶
Smith was 4-2 with a 4.79 ERA in 11 starts for the Golden Flashes but was slowed by a shoulder injury. ¶
Of the Tribe's first 20 selections, only the first and second picks have yet to sign. If a player remains unsigned after Aug. 17, he goes back into the draft for next year. ¶
NIGHT OFF -- Mark DeRosa got the night off, which put Ben Francisco in left field. ¶
""Travis probably will be off tomorrow, and Grady might be the DH,'' Wedge said. ""So I was going to give DeRosa either tonight or tomorrow off, anyway.'' ¶
FARM FACTS -- T.J. House gave up one earned run (two total) and seven hits in Lake County's 9-3 winn to Hagerstown. Nate Recknagel homered and singled. *elip Kyle Bellows homered and drove in three runs, but Mahoning Valley lost 8-3 to Williamsport. ¶
AKRON AEROS 3, BINGHAMTON METS 1
KEY STATS: The Aeros took advantage of a pair of lead off walks in the fifth and seventh innings that came around to score to earn their 49th win. With the victory, Akron's 49-23 record is the best in all of professional baseball...With his 5 2/3 scoreless innings, Aeros starter Hector Rondon (7-4) has now pitched 14 1/3 scoreless frames spanning his last three starts.
KEY MOMENTS: Carlos Santana led off the fourth inning with a double and scored on a wild pitch to put the Aeros on the board. Jared Goedert and Jose Constanza led off the fifth and seventh innings with walks and the team's big sluggers - Santana and Nick Weglarz - drove them in with RBI hits.
STORM'S STAR: Aeros closer Vinnie Pestano recorded a four-out save to earn his league-leading 21st save, which ties him for the most in all of professional baseball.
UP NEXT: The Aeros host Binghamton (New York Mets) again tonight at 7:05 p.m. at Canal Park for the second game of this four-game series. Aeros right-hander Josh Tomlin (7-4, 4.14 ERA) is scheduled to pitch. The B-Mets pitcher is TBA.
RADIO: WARF (1350 am). For more Aeros game info: http://www.ohiomm.com/blogs/aeros/.
CLEVELAND: The hot topic? How about the hot seat? That would be wherever Eric Wedge sits. ¶
The Indians' manager is under duress, thanks to his team's woeful record, and when General Manager Mark Shapiro showed up to talk to the media Friday, Wedge's job status was an obvious topic. [ep
Or as it was presented to Shapiro, Wedge being in the hot seat. [ep
""I don't really know what that is,'' the GM said. ""In this business, every single one of us has a sense of urgency about his job, a real sense of accountability. We all go through junctures where we're evaluated. [ep
""I feel the same now as I did 10 days ago when I said that accountablilty and responsibility for what is becoming a bad year has to be shared. The arrow should point to a broad spectrum -- the players, the staff, Eric and myself. I think that I'm accountable for all of those groups.'' [ep
That does not answer the burning question: Will Wedge be fired? When he was asked about the manager as week ago, Shapiro said that Wedge did not deserve to lose his job. [ep
Shapiro indicated that when the two men talk, the subject of the manager's job security is not the elephant in the room that is pointedly ignored. [ep
""Eric and I have very consistent communication and very open communication,'' the GM said. ""Our focus is on today, winning now, winning series. But we have conversations beyond that. We address everything.'' [ep
Shapiro was not about to give any clues about the nature of those chats or the degree to which Wedge is under fire. [ep
""If there is an announcement to make, then we'll make an announcement,'' the GM said. ""But I've never been in the habit of updating people about our decisions or about the progress of those decisions. We conduct those discussions internally, and obviously ownership is also involved.'' [ep
In other words, Larry Dolan and his son Paul, team president, are hardly out of the loop. [ep
""Paul, Larry and I talk at regular junctures,'' Shapiro said. ""One of the topics is the performance of the manager, the staff, the front office and the players. Evaluations of everything.'' [ep
Meanwhile, can all the talk about Wedge's job status be anything but a distraction to the team? [ep
""There's a lot speculation about me, which I can understand,'' the manager said. ""But all teams have distractions. You have to stiff arm those, blank them out. As for me, I'm a big boy. When I got the job, I knew I'd be taking the good, the bad and the ugly that goes with it.'' [ep
THE EXPLANATION -- There was criticism galore when Matt LaPorta was called up from Columbus to make his major-league debut and played in only about half the games before he was sent back to Triple-A. ¶
Lots of fans felt that if a touted rookie is summoned to the big leagues, he should play every day rather than sit for half the time. But the Indians had a plan. ¶
""We brought up LaParta because we had an injury to Travis Hafner, General Manager Mark Shapiro said Friday. ""He didn't get much of a look, but Eric (Wedge) and I talked. He asked who was the best player to bring up? I told him the best hitter was LaPorta. ¶
""At that point, we decided to bring him up, but I told Eric to put his best lineup on the field every day to help us win.'' ¶
In other words, LaPorta was filling a roster spot for Wedge to call on if he needed a bat. He was not being groomed as an everyday player. ¶
""There are different junctures in a season when you bring up a guy, and he needs to play,'' Shapiro said. ""But with Hafner hurt, this was just an opportunity to give someone a look.'' ¶
MOVE COMING? -- Asdrubal Cabrera worked out with the team Friday, after which Wedge and his staff were to decide if he's ready to come off the disabled list today or go back in a rehab assignment. [ep
The big question is how will Luis Valbuena, Jamey Carroll and Cabrera divide up duties at shortstop and second base? [ep
Who is likely to be sent to Columbus to make room for Cabrera? As usual, that would be Josh Barfield, whose job has become either to fill out the roster or vacate a roster position for someone else. [ep
GOOD KARMA FOR CARMONA? -- The next stop for Fausto Carmona has yet to be determined. After giving up one hit and one walk in 61/3 innings at Lake County Thursday night, Tribe officials are deciding if he should stay with the Captains for another start or move up the minor-league ladder. [ep
""That was a good step he took yesterday,'' Wedge said. ""I know they're meeting today about him. It's possible that Fausto will go somewhere else.'' [ep
FARM FACTS -- Andy Marte doubled, singled twice and drove in four runs, but Columbus lost to Rochester 8-7. Matt LaPorta doubled, singled and drove in one run. In his past three games, LaPorta is 7-for-13 with one home run, two doubles and five RBI. He is batting .330 with seven homers and 16 RBI in June; his .545 slugging percentage and .930 OPS are both third in the International League. *elip Clayton Cook threw six shutout innings, allowing six hits, as Mahoning Valley beat Williamsport 6-1. [ep
PITTSBURGH: At least Eric Wedge can laugh about it. ¶
Some people think that as manager of the Indians, Wedge has the job security of a swim instructor in the Sahara Desert. But only owner Larry Dolan and his son Paul, Tribe president, and General Manager Mark Shapiro know for sure. ¶
""The higher the stress level, the more you should work out,'' Wedge said with a smile Thursday. ""Another week like this, and I'll be in the best shape of my life. And if I dodge all the bullets coming my way, I'll be in even better shape.'' ¶
Wedge has been roundly criticized by Northeast Ohio fans, newspaper columnists and talk show hosts, many calling for his job. Even TV afternoon talker Bruce Drennan has receommended that Wedge be fired, and Drennan works for SportsTime Ohio, which is owned by the Dolans. ¶
However, the last time he was asked, last weekend, Shapiro told a reporter that he didn't think Wedge should lose his job. ¶
Wedge tries to waste as little time thinking about his risky occupational status as possible, but others keep bringing it up. ¶
""I have to spend some time on it, because I get questions by TV and radio people,'' he said, adding that he was focused on trying to fix the myriad problems of the team. ""Right now, I'm not comfortable with anything.'' ¶
With a bullpen in need of an overhaul, a rotation fractured by injuries and Fausto Carmona's meltdown, plus six players still on the disabled list, Wedge has enough to worry about without wondering if he will be out of a job by next weekend or next month. ¶
It isn't clear whether Wedge and Shapiro have spoken to one another specifically about the manager's job security, though the two men talk frequently about the state of the team. ¶
""Mark and I continue to talk daily, like we always have,'' Wedge said. ""He's only talked about it when he's had to -- when there's been an article -- because he knows I don't read the papers, and he thinks I might need to know about certain things that are written.'' ¶
Considering that Wedge is in his seventh season as Cleveland's manager, he's already beaten the odds. Only Tris Speaker, Lou Boudreau and Mike Hargrove have served in the position longer. ¶
""The Dolans are in charge of this organization, and I respect that,'' Wedge said. ""Whatever they say goes.'' ¶
MOVING FORWARD -- Rafael Betancourt (strained groin) threw his second bullpen session Thursday, delivering 35 pitches, using only fastballs and changeups. ¶
""Saturday, I throw my next one, 45 pitcches, and I will use all of my pitches,'' he said. ""After that, I think they want me to throw a simulated game.'' ¶
Betancourt didn't know if he would have to go to the minors on a rehabilitation assignment, but manager Eric Wedge did. ¶
""He'll have to go down and pitch a couple of times,'' he said. ""He looked good today.'' ¶
Before every throwing session, Betancourt does 21/2 hours worth of stretching, water workouts and cardio exercises. ¶
""And on days when I'm not throwing, I do all of my exercises twice instead of once,'' he said. ¶
THE NEXT STEP -- Fausto Carmona has the next step in his reclamation process by leaving the Indians' training complex in Goodyear, Ariz , and heading for Lake County, where he started Thursday night. ¶
""There are certain things we want him to do, and we'll be looking for those tonight,'' Wedge said. ""He's scheduled to throw 80-85 pitches, and we'll go from there.'' ¶
Peralta will not jump from Lake County back to the big leagues. ¶
""There will be a progression,'' Wedge said. ""I can't tell you what it is, because we're working off him.'' ¶
The most important of Carmona's goals: To focus totally on the next pitch, no matter what happened on the previous pitch. ¶
CABRERA CLOSE -- Asdrubal Cabrera went 1-for-8 in his first two games at Akron and was scheduled to be the DH Thursday night, the third and possibly last game of his rehab assignment. ¶
""He'll be in Cleveland for his pre-game workout tomorrow, so we can watch him and go from there,'' Wedge said. ""Maybe he can come back over the weekend.'' ¶
PERALTA LOSES TRIPLE -- An appeal by the Cubs to Major League Baseball's scoring review committee has changed Jhonny Peralta's June 19 triple to an error on Chicago center fielder Reed Johnson. ¶
""I know he had to run a long way,'' Peralta said. ""It could be a hit or not a hit. There's nothing I can do about it.'' ¶
Peralta led off the second inning with a long drive. Johnson chased it down, but the ball bounced off his glove. Kelly Shoppach followed with a walk and Luis Valbuena hit a three-run homer. One of the three runs in the inning is now unearned. ¶
The Tribe lost the game 8-7. ¶
FUTURE IS NOW -- Two Indians' minor leaguers have been named to the annual All-Star Futures Game, scheduled for July 12 at 2 p.m. in St. Louis, site of the June 14 All-Star Game. ¶
Akron catcher Carlos Santana and Aeros outfielder Nick Weglarz will represent the Tribe. ¶
Santana is batting .263 with 11 home runs, 46 RBI and an Eastern League-leading 46 runs. He is tied for fifth in home runs and tied for sixth in RBI and is seventh in the league with a .908 OPS. ¶
Weglarz is batting .261 with 10 home runs and 50 RBI, tying him for second in the EL. ¶
Columbus manager Torey Lovullo has been chosen as a coach for the USA Team that will be managed by Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith. Jose Oquendo, the Cardinals' third base coach, will manage the World Team. ¶
FARM FACTS -- Matt LaPorta and Andy Marte each homered, doubled and singled, as Columbus beat Rochester 9-5. ¶
TRENTON THUNDER 7, AKRON AEROS 6
KEY STATS: The Aeros committed a season-high four errors, including two in the Thunder's five-run fifth inning...Aeros closer Vinnie Pestano blown save came on the first run he'd allowed since June 1, as he'd gone eight consecutive appearances with 8 1/3 scoreless innings.
KEY MOMENTS: With the Aeros trailing 5-2 entering the seventh inning, Nick Weglarz and Carlos Santana hit back-to-back home runs to give the host a temporary lead. Weglarz's blast to right field was a two-run shot while Santana's to left was a solo shot...But the lead didn't last long as Zach Putnam gave up a homer to the second batter he faced in Edwar Gonzalez to knot the game at 6-6...Trenton won the game in the ninth inning on Jorge Vazquez's home run off Aeros closer Vinnie Pestano.
STORM'S STAR: For the second consecutive game, the honors got to Weglarz, who went 4-for-5 with a two-run home run and three RBI. He also gave Akron a shot in the ninth with a two-out single, but was stranded when Santana struck out to end the game.
CABRERA UPDATE: In his second rehab start with the Aeros, Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera went 1-for-5 with a double. Although he made a throwing error in the first inning, he also showed major-league range on a nice play for the second out of the second inning.
On Edwar Gonzalez's liner back up the middle, Cabrera instinctually ranged far to his left to snag the ball in shallow center field and fired to first in time to nab Gonzalez by a step.
"Asdrubal's made some real nice plays at short," Aeros manager Mike Sarbaugh said.
PITTSBURGH: For a pitcher, it's all about hitting spots. ¶
Jensen Lewis might still be the Indians' setup man if he had displayed pinpoint command of the strike zone. ¶
Instead, Lewis and Rafael Perez both lost their ownership of the eighth inning and have been struggling ever since. ¶
""I want to get back to the setup role and be able to get the ball to Kerry (Wood),'' Lewis said on Wednesday. ""But to do that, I have to keep putting zeroes up on the board.'' ¶
It's not that Lewis has gotten shelled every outing. At times, he has shut down opposing lineups, and on other occasions he has looked like he was throwing batting practice. Especially noticeable were pitches he would deliver down the middle that would land over the fence. ¶
Lewis has given up more home runs (8) than any pitcher on the staff, save Carl Pavano (11), who has thrown more than twice as many innings going into Wednesday night's game against the Pirates: 812/3 to 37. ¶
Home runs became Lewis' worst nightmare in mid-April, when the Tribe opened new Yankee Stadium. Twice Lewis became the losing pitcher, giving up a ninth-inning homer to Derek Jeter and a seventh-inning blast to Jorge Posada. ¶
Neither home run was hit with great authority and both traveled to right field, where it has been acknowledged that the stadium's strong tendency to be a power hitter's paradise is the most pronounced. ¶
""It's kind of like two home runs are standing in the way of me having a good year,'' Lewis said. ""Home runs are going to happen. I think I'm doing a better job of keeping the ball down now.'' ¶
Lewis has been particularly vulnerable to left-handed batters, which figures, since he is a right-hander. Nevertheless, he will have to do better than hold righties to a .365 batting average. ¶
Batters who hit from the right side have posted a .192 average against Lewis, and there is this difference: He is striking out lefties at the rate of one every seven at-bats and righties at the rate of one every 3.3 at-bats. ¶
Lewis seemed to find himself in two appearances last weekend in Wrigley Field, delivering three scoreless innngs. ¶
"´I went back to basics,'' he said. ""I'm staying back behind the ball. And I've had a chance to work on my slider a little more. (Alfonso) Soriano hitting into that double play (Sunday) was kind of a turning point for me with that pitch.'' ¶
Lewis is keenly aware that he must pitch like he did in Chicago routinely if he is to climb back up the bulpen's pecking order. ¶
""We need more consistency from all these guys,'' manager Eric Wedgde said. ""One good outing and one bad outing just doesn't get it done. But Jensen is very capable of helping us.'' ¶
NEW IN THE PEN -- Whatever the Indians see in Jose Veras, it can't have anything to do with his performances against them this year as a Yankee. ¶
The Tribe acquired the right-handed reliever Wednesday for cash from New York, which designated him for assignment June 16. ¶
Veras has pitched against Cleveland three times this year, gving up six runs in four innings and allowing home runs to Jhonny Peralta and Shin-Soo Choo. ¶
In 25 appearances for the Yankees, Veras, 28, posted a 3-1 record and 5.96 earned-run average, allowing 23 hits and 14 walks. Despite these mediocre numbers, his batting average against was .235. ¶
""He had a pretty good year in 2008,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ""He has some experience, and he has a good arm. It's probably been 10 days since he pitched, so we'll keep a close eye on him for awhile.'' ¶
Last year, Veras was 5-3 with a 3.59 ERA in 60 appearances. ¶
MORE MOVES -- Greg Aquino cleared waivers and was outrighted to Columbus after being designated for assignment last Friday. He was 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA in 10 outings for the Tribe. His downfall was walks: 15 in 16 innings. *elip Former first-round pick Michael Aubrey was traded to the Orioles for a player to be named. Aubrey was batting .292 with five homers, 16 doubles and 29 RBI in 212 at-bats for Columbus. ¶
SIGNINGS -- The Indians' seventh round selection in the June draft, Jordan Henry, an outfielder from the University of Mississippi, agreed to terms. ¶
Infielder Casey Frawley, the Tribe's 17th round pick, from Stetson University, and 40th-round choice Greg Folgia, an infielder from the University of Missouri, also signed. ¶
FARM FACTS -- Jordan Brown hit his ninth home run, singled twice and had four RBI in Columbus' 8-7 win over Rochester. Matt LaPorta had two hits and two RBI. ¶
The Indians announced that they traded for right-handed pitcher Jose Veras from the New York Yankees for cash.
The team announced that Veras will join the Indians’ 25-man roster over the coming days with a corresponding roster move being announced at that time.To read more or comment...
The Indians have traded minor-league first baseman Michael Aubrey to the Baltimore Orioles for a player to be named.
Aubrey was a first-round pick (No. 11 overall) in 2003 but was slowed by injuries during his time with the Indians. He was batting .292 with five homers and 29 RBI in 57 games with Triple-A Columbus. The 27-year-old played in 15 games last season for the Indians, batting .200 with two homers.
The Indians also outrighted right-hander Greg Aquino to the Clippers. He was designated for assignment June 19 after going 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA in 10 relief appearances.
AKRON AEROS 5, TRENTON THUNDER 2
KEY STATS: Indians left-hander Aaron Laffey pitched four shutout innings, allowing one hit and a walk while striking out four batters in a major league rehab start.
"It feels really good to be back out there and be able to go full speed and not have to worry about anything at all," Laffey said. "I can give 100 percent effort now and not worry about injury."
Although Laffey said after the game he hasn't heard about his next assignment, odds are he'll have at least one more rehab start in an effort to build up his pitch count so that he can slide back into the Indians starting rotation instead of returning to the bullpen.
Aeros manager Mike Sarbaugh agreed that Laffey's next start could come here in Akron.
PITTSBURGH: Round and round the roster moves go. Eventually, the merry-go-round dropped Tony Sipp off in Cleveland again. ¶
Sipp was recalled by the Indians on Tuesday for the third time this season, and he joined the relief corps for the first of three games against the Pirates at PNC Park. ¶
If not for the need to activate Joe Smith from the disabled list two weeks ago, Sipp never would have had to make a second trip to Columbus. ¶
""We would not have sent him back, and we told him that, too,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ""But I think every time he comes here, he's closer to staying for good.'' ¶
That made the demotion to the minors easier to take for Sipp. ¶
""The last time they sent me down, they told me it was because they didn't have any room for me,'' he said. ""That made it better. I could just keep doing what I'd been doing.'' ¶
Wedge might not be aware of it, but Sipp reported to work this time with a new weapon. ¶
""I got a new pitch, a split, working for me,'' he said. ""I threw it for one day (on the side) then brought it into a game at Columbus. I struck a guy.'' ¶
Sipp's description of the split-finger fastball as a new pitch isn't quite accurate. ¶
""I had the pitch in college, so I was just going down memory lane to get it back,'' he said. ""I felt like it was a good pitch then, but it stopped sinking on me.'' ¶
Apparently, the sink is back. Just ask catcher Damaso Espino, who didn't know it was coming when Sipp threw it in the Triple-A game. ¶
""I kind of put him in a weird situation,'' he said. ""I kept shaking him to the changeup. I figured that was about as close as I could get to what it was.'' ¶
Sipp does not plan to throw the split in a big-league game for awhile. ¶
""Eventually,'' he said. ""Once I use it a little more on the side and get more control over it.'' ¶
At Columbus, Sipp was 1-0 with one save and a 3.71 earned-run average in 12 outings. Lefties were batting only .105 against him in 19 at-bats. ¶
In his previous two trips to Cleveland, Sipp made 10 appearances and gave up three runs in 82/3 innings, hardly a definitive test, particularly since this is his first year in the majors. ¶
Despite his inexperience, Sipp has been used in some critical situations. ¶
""It's fun,'' he said. ""A reliever wants to be the guy that your teammates want to be out there. But the only way you know you can do it is to do it.'' ¶
SIZEMORE RETURNS -- Manager Eric Wedge indicated that he would use Grady Sizemore cautiously for at least a little while, now that the Indians' center fielder has been activated from the disabled list after missing more than three weeks with inflammation of the lining of his left elbow. ¶
""This week I think we need to be careful,'' Wedge said. ""Grady won't play every day the first week. When we come back to playing the American League, he could get a few at-bats at DH.'' ¶
Sizemore batted second Tuesday night, behind Jamey Carroll, who will be moved down the lineup when Asdrubal Cabrera comes off the DL this week. ¶
""We'll go back to Asdrubal at the top of the lineup, with Grady second,'' Wedge said. ""That worked out pretty well. Asdrubal might be back in a couple of days.'' ¶
Cabrera reported to Akron Tuesday night for what is likely to be a brief rehab assignment. ¶
""He'll be there tonight and tomorrow,'' Wedge said. ""We'll evaluate from there, but he could be up here on Thursday night.'' ¶
THE MOVES -- In addition to activating Sizemore, the Tribe summoned lefty Tony Sipp from Columbus, optioning Trevor Crowe to Triple-A and designated for assignment right-hander Luis Vizcaino. ¶
In two stints with Cleveland, Crowe played in 30 games and batted .169 (11-for-65). Vizcaino was 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA in 11 relief appearances. His biggest problem: control. He walked 12 in 112/3 innings. ¶
The Indians have 10 days to trade Vizcaino or outright him to the minors if he clears waivers. ¶
GARKO UPDATE -- Ryan Garko said he no longer has any problem with his left wrist that he sprained last Wednesday in a game against the Brewers. However, he was not in Tuesday night's lineup against the Pirates. Instead, Chris Gimenez played first. ¶
HEAVY ON LEFTIES -- With the addition of Sipp, the Tribe has three left-handers in the bullpen, including Rafael Perez and Mike Gosling. ¶
Having so many lefties among the relief corps was not planned, but Wedge isn't about to knock it, either. ¶
""It's nice to have that option,'' he said. ""We're just looking for the best options and for something to click.'' ¶
None of the three is regarded as strictly a left-on-left situational pitcher. However, because Sipp is a raw rookie and has been especially effective on left-handed batters in the minors, he might be used in that fashion. ¶
Does practice make perfect? Is it possible that the Indians' bullpen has pitched so many innings in the month of June that the relief corps has corrected its problems? ¶
Even though the Tribe lost all three games to the Cubs over the weekend, with the exception of closer Kerry Wood, the bullpen displayed a sharp turnaround. ¶
Wood blew two saves and gave up three runs in 11/3 innings at Wrigley Field. The rest of the bullpen combined to throw 111/3 innings and give up only two runs. ¶
Asked whether this theory has merit, manager Eric Wedge said, ""The more you pitch -- the more you're out there -- if you have decent stuff, you should get better.'' ¶
Orel Hershiser used to talk about how difficult it is for starting pitdhers to practice, because in trying to protect their arms, they must strictly limit the number of pitches they throw between outings. It's even harder for relievers to make corrections, because they never know when they will have to pitch for real. ¶
Even Jensen Lewis and Rafael Perez, who began the bullpen on its downward spiral in early April, made productive appearances against the Cubs, Lewis working three scoreless innings and giving up one run, Perez throwing one scoreless inning but letting in a run on an error. ¶
Going into the series in Chicago, the Tribe relief corps had thrown 47 innings in 14 June games, an average of more than 31/3 innings per game. ¶
GETTING IT DONE -- At least in his first outing as an Indian, left-hander Mike Gosling was a success, delivering 12/3 scoreless innings Sunday against the Cubs. ¶
""I guess I'm a little familiar with Wrigley Field, because I've pitched here a couple of times before,'' he said. ""That gave me a little comfort level. But I was still nervous. It was my first time pitching for Cleveland and the first time pitching in the big leagues for a couple of years.'' ¶
INJURY UPDATES -- Asdrubal Cabrera will begin a 20-day rehabilitation assignment at Arkon tonight, when the Aeros play Trenton. *elip Aaron Laffey will make his second rehab start tonight in Akron. *elip Grady Sizemore might be activated from the disabled list tonight in Pittsburgh. ¶
ON THE DOTTED LINE -- The Tribe signed its 13th round selection in the June draft Monday, right-hander Jeremy Johnson, who pitched for Washington State University. He is the 18th Indians draftee to sign and the 13th among their top 16 picks. ¶
BAD OMEN -- When the Tribe begins a three-game set with the Pirates in Pittsburgh tonight, it will be with a cautionary note. In six previous games between the teams at PNC Park, the Bucs have won five. ¶
On the other hand, the Pirates have lost four in a row and five of their last six. That compares with Cleveland's current six-game losing streak. ¶
CHICAGO: With all the pitching and injury problems that have plagued the Indians, Luis Valbuena has been allowed to begin his development as a major-leaguer under the radar, without the public or media paying much attention.
Even during the weekend series against the Cubs, when Valbuena hit three home runs in two games, his achievements were overshadowed by myriad disasters that cost the Tribe wins on Friday and Saturday.To read more or comment...
Jake Westbrook's seemingly minor setback probably will delay his return to the mound by at least a month.
After being shut down after his last rehab start because of soreness in his surgically reconstructed right elbow, Westbrook was scheduled to throw a bullpen Wednesday, but that will not happen.To read more or comment...
CHICAGO: Mike Gosling wears No. 20 on the back of his jersey, but he ranks 23rd on the list of pitchers who have paraded to the mound wearing Indians uniforms in 2009.
After the disastrous three-game sweep by the Brewers in Cleveland, a series in which the Tribe bullpen gave up 18 runs and 14 walks in 14 innings, it was time for another change.To read more or comment...
CLEVELAND: Wednesday was another scheduled night off for Travis Hafner, whose return to the Indians' lineup, while sporadic, has been marked mostly by success.
Hafner says his surgically operated right shoulder is less subject to soreness and fatigue, and in his first 29 at-bats, he is hitting .310 with three home runs, eight RBI, and characteristically, five walks.To read more or comment...
CLEVELAND: Manager Eric Wedge doesn't mind identifying two aspects of the Indians' game that cause a spike in his blood pressure: walks and strikeouts.
Only one American League team's pitchers have issued more walks per game than the Tribe. The Yankee staff has walked an average of 3.97 batters per game, the Indians 3.95.To read more or comment...
CLEVELAND: Grady Sizemore passed his test Monday, but he will not automatically be promoted to the next grade. ¶
It's a little different when you have a lingering injury that improves only incrementally. Which relates to Sizemore's activities on Monday that included an MRI scan on his left elbow. ¶
""The MRI looked pretty good,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ""There's still a little something there, but it's a lot better.'' ¶
Sizemore has been on the disabled list since May 31 with inflammation of the lining that covers his left elbow. He was shut down completely and given anti-inflammation medication. ¶
For the first time since going on the DL, Sizemore was permitted to throw a baseball Monday, playing catch from 60 feet. He also took some dry swings. ¶
Sizemore concedes that that pain in his elbow hasn't totally disappeared. ¶
""It feels a lot better than it did,'' he said. ""I'm not going to say that I don't feel something, though.'' ¶
Sizemore believes that even if the elbow got no better, he could throw and hit now. ¶
""I think it would be fine if it stayed the way it it,'' he said. ""If it didn't get any worse, that would be a good thing. Before I went on the DL, it hurt to swing but throwing was the biggest thing.'' ¶
Even though the MRI showed that the inflammation had dissipated, there is no guarantee it won't return. ¶
""There's a chance it could get worse,'' he said. ""It could linger all year.'' ¶
The inflammation might also disappear. For the time being, surgery is still a last option to clean out the area. Such an operation would keep Sizemore on the DL from four to six additional weeks. ¶
""I don't know when we would be able to say yes or no (to surgery),'' Wedge said. ¶
However, the current treatment indicates that Sizemore has a good chance to avoid an arthroscopic procedure. ¶
Under the best circumstances, Wedge thinks that Sizemore could be back in the lineup in seven to 10 days. Wedge would only speculate on whether Sizemore would have to spend time in a rehabilitation assignment before he is activated. ¶
""We've talked about it,'' the manager said. ""He could probably use an at-bat or two, but no decision has been made yet. ¶
In the meantime, Sizemore isn't having much fun. ¶
""It's tough,'' he said. ""No one wants to be in the dugout looking out at his team.'' ¶
WESTBROOK BACKING OFF -- After his last rehabilitation start at Akron on Friday, Jake Westbrook suffered pain in his reconstructed right elbow that will delay his next start. ¶
""Jake is a little sore right now,'' manager Eric Wedge said Monday. ""He played catch today, and we'll see how he is tomorrow. ¶
""He hasn't had any setbacks, so we expected to see something a lot earlier than this. He'll throw another bullpen (before he starts again).'' ¶
In his start for the Aeros, Westbrook threw four scoreless innings, giving up three hits. ¶
LAFFEY PROGRESSING -- Aaron Laffey (right oblique strain) is scheduled to make his first rehab start on Thursday for Columbus. ¶
It's too early to know how many minor-league outings Laffey will make before he is activated. However, he is being conditioned as a starter, which means he probably will throw at least 80-85 pitches in at least one start before he comes off the DL. ¶
ON THE DOTTED LINE -- Sixth round pick , first baseman Ben Carlson from Missouri State, was one of four draftees signed by the Tribe. ¶
Also agreeing to terms: 10th-round choice Brett Brach, a right-hander from Monmouth (N.J.) University; 11th rounder Kirk Wetmore, a left-hander from Bellevue (Wash.) Community College, and 14th-round pick Kyle Smith, an infielder from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. ¶
BLOOD DRIVE -- The Tribe, iin conjunction with the American Red Cross, will hold a blood drive before tonight's game against the Brewers. ¶
Between noon and 8 p.m., fans can give blood on the plaza between Progressive Field and Quicken Loans Arena. Blood collected in last year's drive was distributed to 57 local hospitals. ¶
FARM FACTS -- Matt LaPorta is batting .333 with two homers and six RBI in his past 11 games at Columbus. *elip Akron closer Vinnie Pestano leads the Eastern League with 16 saves. *elip Kinston left-hander Eric Berger is fourth in the Carolina League with a 2.37 earned-run averaged and fifth in strikeouts with 54 in 602/3 innings. *elip Lake County outfielder Donnie Webb leads the South Atlantic League in triples with eight and is second in steals with 21. ¶
CLEVELAND: Trevor Crowe has yet to establish himself in the big leagues, but he knows the joys and disappointments inherent in the learning process.
He earned a place on the roster in spring training but was back in Triple-A by May 2, when the Indians optioned him to Columbus.To read more or comment...
AKRON AEROS 8, PORTLAND 0
KEY STATS - With the series win over Portland, the Aeros have won six of their last games and entered the day with a 3.5-game lead over second-place Reading...The Aeros battered SeaDogs starter Lawson for eight runs (all earned) on eight hits and five walks.
KEY MOMENT - RF Matt McBride got the Aeros started with a bang, slamming a grand slam in the first inning against Lawson...Aeros starter Hector Rondon and two relievers combined to shut out the SeaDogs on two hits.
STORM'S STARS - In his just second first game back since recovering from a left knee MCL strain, McBride put the host on the board in a big way with a grand slam down the left line in the first inning. He went 2-for-4 with a double and four RBI and has four extra-base hits in his last two games.
UP NEXT - The Aeros have Monday off - but have to spend it taking an 11-hour bus ride to New Hampshire (Toronto Blue Jays) where they will kick off a six-game road trip with the Fisher Cats and then Portland SeaDogs (Boston Red Sox). They return to Canal Park June 23 for a seven-game home stand.
AKRON AEROS 5, PORTLAND 1
KEY STATS - Despite tip-toeing in and out of trouble in the second and fourth innings (including facing the bases loaded in second) Aeros starter Ryan Edell managed to earn the win. He gave up just one run on four hits, walked three and struck out six batters in five innings.
KEY MOMENT - The Aeros scored in bunches with three runs in the second inning and two more in the fifth. In the second, the Aeros combined to hit for the cycle with a single by John Drennen, double by Jerad Head, triple by Jose Constanza and home run by Matt McBride...Aeros closer Vinnie Pestano came on with two outs in the eighth and the bases loaded to get the key out before notching his league-leading 16th save in the ninth.
NOTES - Portland starter Junichi Tazawa isn't your ordinary Double-A pitcher. Not when the right-hander signed with Boston in December for $3.3 million over three years including a $1.8 million signing bonus.
Tazawa entered Saturday's action appearing as if it were money well spent, having gone 6-1 record with a 1.96 ERA over his last eight starts. In 46 innings he'd stuck out 46 batters and walked just 11 while holding opponents to a .199 batting average.To read more or comment...
Fausto Carmona has begun a program to restore his powers at the Arizona Rookie League in Goodyear, but there is not way to know how long it will take to transform him into the dominating starter he was two years ago. [ep
""We are monitoring him daily,'' manager Eric Wedge said Saturday. ""His program includes a lot of conversation, and he's also throwing bullpens.'' [ep
Minor league pitching coordinator Dave Miller and lower level pitching coordinator Steve Lyons are the hands-on staffers working with Carmona. [ep
""Carl literally talks to them every day,'' Wedge said of his pitching coach, Carl Willis. [ep
Carmona did not come to spring training in game-ready physical condition, though that is not necessarily a factor now. [ep
""Is that part of the problem?'' Wedge said. ""I don't know. Did he come into spring training in the kind of shape we would have liked? No, but this is not a physical thing.'' [ep
Asked if Carmona was fearful of throwing his lethal sinker for strikes, Wedge said, ""He knows he can get people out throwing the sinker over the plate. That's why this is mostly mental.'' [ep
MR. CLUTCH -- Going into Saturday's game against the Cardinals, Shin-Soo Choo was batting .319 and had amassed 32 RBI with runners in scoring position. That doesn't mean he doesn't feel the tension when he is confronted by that situation. [ep
""I'm not comfortable,'' he said. ""I'm still nervous. I try to clear my head, and I don't want to do too much thinking.'' [ep
DAY OF DECISION -- With three off days in the next three weeks, Wedge can juggle his rotation to minimize the number of starts Toma Ohka will make. But before he made any decisions, he wanted to see how well Ohka pitched on Saturday. [ep
""We have some off days, so we can manipulate things if we want to,'' the manager said. [ep
LUCKY NUMBER -- Ashtabula resident Randy Loomis won a trip to the All-Star Game in St. Louis (airfare, hotel accommodations, four game tickets), 100 tickets to an Indians game and a $100 gift certificate at the Tribe's team shop for being the 100 millionth fan to attend an interleague game. [ep
FARM FACTS -- Michael Aubrey doubled twice and singled in Columbus' 2-1 win over Louisville. Jack Cassel gave up one unearned run in seven innings, and Tony Sipp pitched two hitless innings in relief. *elip T.J. House (1-7, 3.05 ERA) yielded one earned run (two total) in 51/3 innings, but Lake County lost 5-2 to Lakewood.
PORTLAND SEA DOGS 1, AKRON AEROS 0
KEY STATS - Portland starter Felix Doubront combined with three relievers to limit the host Aeros to five hits in the shutout, with the SeaDogs bullpen allowing just one hit over the final four innings...Indians rehabbing pitcher Jake Westbrook pitched four shutout innings, allowing three singles and issuing three strikeouts.
"I can tell that I'm putting a little more stress on my arm because I'm throwing more and more," Westbrook said. "Now, it's just a matter of how I handle each outing and how I feel tomorrow morning, as well as four days from now. So far it's been pretty good. I'm sore each day, but it's a good sore - the same you feel after you pitch when you're healthy."
KEY MOMENTS - The lone run of the game came in the Portland sixth inning when Aeros reliever Zack Putnam walked Reid Engel to start the frame, then gave up a one-out RBI-double to Mark Wagner.
STORM'S STARS - The Aeros defense threw out a runner at the plate to keep a run from scoring against Westbrook. Portland DH Jon Still hit a single to center field that Jose Constanza gathered and threw perfectly on a one-hopper into Aeros catcher Carlos Santana. Santana first blocked the plate with his left foot to trip up runner Argenis Diaz, then tagged him for the out when Diaz missed the plate...Portland's defense returned the favor in the eighth inning, throwing out the potential tying run at the plate in Cristo Arnal on a Santana single to left field.
CLEVELAND: Jamey Carroll made his second start of the season as the Indians' leadoff batter Friday night, but it won't be his last. [ep
""This is a good time to give Benny (Francisco) a day off and let him catch his breath,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ""Jamey puts up tough at-bats. He's really knowledgeable; he understands the game.'' [ep
Carroll also has been on a roll lately. He has started only 17 games all season, but eight have come this month. He is batting .355 in June, despite going 0-for-4 in his last start Wednesday night. [ep
The key to keeping Carroll productive might be mixing in enough days off to avoid fatigue. That's how Wedge is approaching it. [ep
""You have to have calculate some off days in there to keep him fresh,'' the manager said. ""He's going to be a regular player. I just don't see him playing seven days a week. And when he's in there, I like to see him in the first or second spot in the order.'' [ep
Wedge might have feared he was running out of viable leadoff batters when Grady Sizemore went down with inflammation of the lining of his left elbow and Asdrubal Cabrera sprained his left AC joint. Neither player is likely to return to the lineup for at least two weeks, so Wedge will have to settle on Carroll at the top of the lineup or go back to Francisco. [ep
Carroll made one previous start in the leadoff spot, going 0-for-3 with three walks in the Tribe's 11-10 comeback win over Tampa Bay on May 25. Carroll scored the game winner. [ep
He has batted in the second slot seven times; he also hit in the seventh, eighth or ninth positions in eight games. [ep
""I don't care where I bat,'' Carroll said. ""It doesn't make any difference to me. I take the same approach no matter if I bat near the top of the order or the bottom. '' [ep
As a leadoff hitter, Carroll might be a candidate to bunt for a hit, but there are complications in doing that. [ep
"If they give it to me,'' he said. ""But they see a little guy up there, so they play in on me. That makes it tough.'' [ep
What happens to Francisco if Carroll regularly bats at the top of the order? Friday night, he was in the seventh spot. [ep
""I think having Benny there lengthens our lineup,'' said Wedge, referring to Francisco's RBI potential and capabilities as a gap hitter. [ep
Francisco spent eight consecutive games as the Tribe's leadoff hitter and batted only .167. [ep
LONG ROAD BACK -- Anthony Reyes underwent surgery to reconstruct the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and to transpose the ulnar nerve in his right arm Friday. [ep
Dr. Lewis Yocum performed the three-hour operation in Anaheim, Calif. [ep
The usual recovery for such procedures is 12-18 months. Jake Westbrook is 12 months from Tommy John surgery, and he made his second rehabilitation start at Akron Friday night. He is not expected to be activated until the end of the month. [ep
Reyes has not pitched for almost a month. In eight starts, he posted a 1-1 record and 6.57 earned-run average. He had a history of elbow problems before he was traded from St. Louis to Cleveland a year ago. [ep
THE LATEST OBSTACLE -- The Indians issued a statement concerning the seagulls that have invaded Progressive Field, one of which was struck by Shin-Soo Choo's game-winning single Thursday night. [ep
""Over the past several weeks, the Cleveland Indians have been doing research regarding the gull issue we've encountered at Progressive Field,'' said vice president of public relations Bob DiBiasio. ""This research has included contacting a variety of institutions, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Wildlife Research Center, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Ohio Division of Wildlife and Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, to name a few. [ep
""The main reason for this issue has been the increase of nesting pairs in Cleveland's "Flats' on flat-top roof buildings. Gulls are riding the wind currents up the valley walls to the ballpark in search for food scraps to feed their young. The Indians are continuing to research ways to control this issue under the guidance of gulls being federally protected.'' [ep
As manager Eric Wedge said, ""It's being addressed. It'sw a matter of what they can do that will work. It's only happens a couple of times a year. Playing baseball and playing outdoors, anything can happen. That's the beauty of the game.'' [ep
FARM FACTS -- Chuck Lofgren (1-2, 3.71 ERA) gave up four runs (three earned) and seven hits in six innings in Columbus' 6-1 loss to Louisville. *elip Adam Abraham doubled twice and drove in two runs in Lake County's 3-2 win over Delmarva. [ep
CLEVELAND: After making the Indians' 50th and final pick in the amateur draft, the 1,505th selection overall, scouting director Brad Grant took a break. ¶
But not for long. Grant and his lieutenants already have begun the negotiating phase of the draft process, and in 10 or 12 days Tribe scouts will fan out across the country looking to get a bead on next year's draft choices. ¶
The drafted ended Thursday with teams picking players from the 31st through the 50th rounds. Among those taken by the Tribe was a second player from Kent State plus a former City Series pitcher. ¶
Taken in the 38th round was Kent State right-hander Robert Sabo, 21, who is projected by Grant as a reliever. ¶
""He's coming off shoulder surgery last year and only pitched 20 innings this year,'' said Grant of Sabo, who lives in Middletown. ¶
On Wednesday, the Indians took Kent State starter Kyle Smith in the 20th round. ¶
Grant was asked whether picking players that low in the draft was really worth the trouble. ¶
""You keep going,'' he said. ""You don't give up. Tony Sipp was picked in the 42nd round. You can find value in the back of the draft.'' ¶
Grant's choice in the 42nd round this year was Akronite Jonathan Kountis, a 21-year-old right-hander who pitches for Ohio Dominican University, an NAIA school in Columbus. ¶
""I think he's changed his body a little (for the better),'' said Grant of the 6-foor-2, 240 pounder. ""We're going to watch him over the course of the summer.'' ¶
Kountis graduated from Firestone High, where he played basketball as well as baseball and won the award as the school's most valuable pitcher in each of his four seasons on the mound. ¶
After his freshman year of 2007 at Ohio Dominican, Kountis was named the third best pitching prospect in the Alaska collegiate summer league by Baseball America. Last summer he pitched in the prestigious Cape Cod League. ¶
Twenty-two of the Tribe's picks were college pitchers or junior college pitchers, though Grant said that was not by design. ¶
""When we looked up at the board, that's the way it went,'' he said. ""But it wasn't intentional. We had 865 players on our board when we started, and we still had about 75 at the end.'' ¶
Teams deal in high volume during the draft, but they know the odds are small of finding viable big-leaguers. ¶
""If we get three major-league players, it's a good draft,'' Grant said. ¶
Players who are high school seniors or college juniors must sign contracts by Aug. 15 or go back into the pool for next year's draft. ¶
AT IT AGAIN -- Last year, the Indians set the American League record for being hit by pitches with 108, and they are on pace to break the mark with 42 in the first 61 games. ¶
""A lot of it comes from hanging in there,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ""You have to stick your nose in there to be a successful hitter. That's what a lot of our guys do.'' ¶
The team leaders, as usual, are Kelly Shoppach with 12 and Ryan Garko with six. But a new entry has broken through this year: Shin-Soo Choo with six. Shoppach leads the league; Garko and Choo are tied for third and Ben Francisco, with four, is tied for 15th. ¶
CONDOLENCES -- One of the Tribe's most popular players of the late 1950s and early 1960s, Woodie Held, died Thursday in Dubois, Wyo., at the age of 77 after a battle with cancer. ¶
Held was signed to a pro contract by the Yankees but was traded to Kansas City and then to Cleveland, along with first baseman Vic Power, for Roger Maris and two others in June, 1958. He quickly asserted himself as the everyday shortstop and remained with the Tribe for seven seasons, through 1964. ¶
He hit a high of 29 home runs in 1959, one of three consecutive years he hit at least 20. Held was the Indians' all-time home run leader among shortstops until Jhonny Peralta broke his record in 2008. ¶
Long after his playing days were over, Held participated in the Tribe's annual fantasy camp. ¶
JUST TEMPORARY -- Jhonny Peralta was back at shortstop Thursday night, but the move is hardly permanent. ¶
""I just wanted to give Jamey (Carroll) a night off,'' Wedge said. ""So (Luis) Valbuena moved over to second and Jhonny went back to short.'' ¶
FARM FACTS -- Eric Berger (4-4, 2.37 ERA) gave up one run and two hits in 61/3 innings, as Kinston beat Myrtle Beach 4-1. *elip Abner Abreu doubled and singled in Lake County's 8-2 loss to Delmarva. ¶
AKRON AEROS 12, NEW HAMPSHIRE FISHER CATS 0
KEY STATS - The shutout marked the Aeros biggest win of the season as the host pounded out 12 runs on 10 hits - two of which came on a pair of triples by Aeros outfielder Nick Weglarz...The 12 runs marked the largest margin of victory since Akron's 14-0 blowout victory May 21, 2006 at Harrisburg.
KEY MOMENTS - The Aeros scored four first-inning runs without the aid of a hit and never looked back in going on to add a three-run fourth and five-run fifth to add to the rout.
STORM'S STAR - Lost in all the offense was a strong outing by Aeros right-hander Jeanmar Gomez, who limited the Fisher Cats to one hit and a walk while striking out five batters over six shutout innings.
NOTES: The Aeros will send Indians right-hander Jake Westbrook to the mound Thursday for his second consecutive rehab start for Akron after undergoing Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery last year. In his first rehab outing last week, Westbrook limited the host Altoona Curve to just a hit and a walk over three innings. He is scheduled to pitch four innings or throw 65 pitches tonight - whichever comes first.
UP NEXT - Akron and New Hampshire (Toronto Blue Jays) wrap up the three-game series tonight at Canal Park at 7:05 p.m. Westbrook and New Hampshire left-hander Mark Rzepczynski are the scheduled starters.
CLEVELAND: After 30 rounnds of the annual June draft, the Indians lead the majors in Kyle Smiths, with two. ¶
In round 14, the Tribe selected Kyle Smith, a shortstop from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, a 21-year-old who lives in Visalia, Calif. ¶
In round 20, the Indians stayed much closer to home, taking 21-year-old right-hander Kyle Smith, who pitches for Kent State and lives in Louisville in Stark County. ¶
""He's a big, strong guy (6-foot-6, 220 pounds) who has a three-pitch mix,'' said Cleveland scouting director Brad Grant. ""We like his size and the fact he has a three-pitch mix. He's also a very good athlete.'' ¶
Smith posted a 4-2 record and 4.79 earned-run average in 11 starts this season. In 47 innings, he gave up 47 hits and 17 walks while striking out 38. His batting average against was .267. ¶
The Tribe cannot begin negotiations with its No.1 and No. 2 picks, because both are playing in the College World Series that begins this weekend in Omaha, Neb. ¶
Alex White, a right-hander from North Carolina, was the Indians' first pick, 15th overall. ¶
""It's an exciting time, but I've just got to put it on the back burner,'' White told the Associated Press. ""We've got a job to do in Omaha, and that's to win.'' ¶
Grant projects White as a late-inning reliever whose fastball sits at 92-93 miles per hour and at times will touch 95 or 96. ¶
""He has the stuff and the makeup to be a back end guy,'' Grant said. ""I'm not going to say he'll be our closer, because it's tough to say anyone can do that (at this level of development). ¶
""We wanted to take him in high school, but that didn't work out. He's a good person with a big body. Everything we would want in a pitcher, he has.'' ¶
Jason Kipnis, the Tribe's second pick, is a 22-year-old outfielder from Arizona State. ¶
""He's a good hitter,'' Grant said. ""He has a very advanced approach at the plate. He also has enough tools to stay in center field.'' ¶
Ironically, Arizona State and North Carolina meet in the first round of the College World Series on Sunday. ¶
The first round of this year's draft was virtually unpredictable after the first couple of selections. ¶
""It was a crazy draft,'' Grant said. ""After the first two picks, nobody knew what anybody was going to do. A lot of guys were very similar.'' ¶
Grant knew one thing: ""We had college pitching targeted in the first round,'' he said. ¶
In White, the Grant selected the player projected by Baseball America as the No. 6 overall pick. ¶
MAKING PROGRESS -- A week and a half has gone by since Grady Sizemore was shut down with inflammation of the lining of his left elbow, and the pain he felt has subsided. ¶
""The elbow has reacted favorably as expected,'' head trainer Lonnie Soloff said Wednesday. ¶
Soloff said that Sizemore had experienced pain in three places; two no longer hurt. Sizemore is scheduled to undergo an MRI scan Monday to determine his progress. ¶
""Based on his symptoms then, he can resume baseball activity,'' Soloff said. ¶
With the enforced inactivity and the use of anti-inflammatory medication, Soloff is hoping Sizemore can avoid arthroscopic surgery that would keep him off the field from four to six additional weeks. ¶
NO DECISION YET -- Anthony Reyes will undergo surgery Friday in Los Angeles to transpose the ulnar nerve his right arm. ¶
When Dr. Yocum looks inside Reyes' elbow, he will also determine whether the starter needs reconstruction surgery. If so, that will be done at the same time. ¶
If only the nerve transposition is performed, Reyes could be back pitching in the spring. If Tommy John surgery is needed, Reyes will be out until mid-summer. ¶
THE PITCH -- Scott Lewis (left elbow strain) will make his first rehab start at Lake County tonight, throwing three innings or 50 pitches. *elip Aaron Laffey (right oblique strain) threw a 30-pitch bullpen Tuesday, using only fastballs and changeups. He will throw a 40-pitch, all pitch bullpen today. *elip Rafael Betancourt (groin strain) is undergoing water therapy and stretching exercises. ¶
CABRERA UPDATE -- Asdrubal Cabrera (left AC joint sprain) has begun playing catch and should begin taking ground balls by the weekend. Soon after, it is hoped that he will start swinging a bat. ¶
FARM FACTS -- Michael Brantley had three hits and scored three runs in Columbus' 6-5 win over Gwinnett. In his past 19 games, Brantley is batting .351 to raise his average to .275. Hiws 19 steals and 41 runs are tied for the most in the International League. Matt LaPorta also had three hits. *elip Paolo Espino gave up two runs and five hits in 61/3 innings, as Kinston beat Myrtle Beach 3-2. Lonnie Chisenhall had two hits to raise his average to .301. *elip Alexander Perez gave up three runs (two earned) and two hits in six innings, but Lake County lost 6-4 to Delmarva. Perez and second baseman Karexon Sanchez were named to the South Atlantic League All-Star Team. The All-Star Game pits the Northern Division against the Southern Division June 23 in Charleston, W. Va. ¶
AKRON AEROS 4, NEW HAMPSHIRE FISHER CATS 2
KEY STATS: The Aeros stranded 11 batters on base, leaving the bases loaded in the fourth and fifth inning and grounding into a double play with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth. Their first two runs were unearned, scoring on a throwing error in the second inning.To read more or comment...
In the third round (94th overall), the Indians went back to the draft's main depth in pitching and plucked right-hander Joseph Gardner. The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder is in his first season as a transfer at University of California-Santa Barbara, where he went 7-1 with a 3.40 ERA and 69 strikeouts for the Gauchos while leading the team in nearly every pitching category.To read more or comment...
With the 63rd pick in the draft, the Indians took Arizona State outfielder Jason Kipnis in the second round. The 6-foot, 180-pounder can play all three outfield spots, bats left-handed and is a solid on-base guy.
A redshirt-junior, he is batting .469 with nine home runs and 39 RBI. In addition, he owns a .561 on-base percentage and .919 slugging percentage while going 11-for-13 in stolen-base attempts.To read more or comment...
CLEVELAND: Nothing against suburban Phoenix, but Jake Westbrook is happy to be gone from Arizona and the Indians' extended spring training program.
"I was there four months,'' he said Monday. "I glad to be out of there. My tan is good enough. Now, I get to see the guys and pitch under the lights.''To read more or comment...
The Indians selected power right-hander Alex White from the University of North Carolina with the 15th overall pick in the 2009 major league Draft early Tuesday evening.
"He's a power pitcher (who throws) a plus-fastball up to 96 (mph) with heavy life," Indians director of scouting Brad Grant said. "He features two secondary pitches: a split that is a late swing-and-miss type pitch and a slider that is also a swing-and-miss pitch."To read more or comment...
It is draft day for the Cleveland Indians. It sounds like a good day for the Tribe, but will it be?
Traditionally, The Indians haven't been strong on draft day. CC Sabathia, a 1998 draftee, is the last first rounder to be a major contributor at the major league level.To read more or comment...
Still banged up and with uncertainties dotting every area of the roster, the Indians are entering a stretch of games that probably will determine if they can stay in the Central Division race. ¶
For the rest of the month, the Tribe will play mosly National League Central competition with a smattering of games against the Royals and White Sox. Two-thirds of the schedule set for Progressive Field. ¶
No opponents are likely to be pushovers for a club that is nine games under .500, but the schedule for the rest of June should be relatively kind to the Indians, who expect to get several players back from the disabled list by July. ¶
Three games against the reeling Royals beginning tonight might help keep the Tribe close to the first-place Tigers. ¶
""We just happen to be playing Kansas City right now,'' Jamey Carroll said. ""We want to win the first game of the series and go from there. I'm not sure it will be devastating if we don't beat the Royals now, but we do want to beat teams in our division.'' ¶
Carroll said he does not fixate on the standings at this time of year, but sometimes he takes a peak. ¶
""I didn't really look till the other day, and I saw we were six back or something,'' he said. ""Sure, I come across the standings when I look a the paper, but I don't put much weight on them at this time of year.'' ¶
Caroll, like his teammates, know what the mission is now. ¶
""We have to try and hang on,'' he said, ""until we can get our boys back.'' ¶
THE GIMENEZ FILE -- Chris Gimenez figured a way to get noticed days after making his major-league debut. ¶
It's easy when two of a player's first three big-league hits are home runs. ¶
""He's always had a great approach at the plate,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ""It's very professional.'' ¶
One thing that baffles people about Gimenez is his name, rather, how to pronounce it, which is JIM-en-ez. ¶
SMITH UPDATE -- Joe Smith (right rotator cuff strain) worked one scoreless inning for Columbus on Sunday, which might be his last Triple-A outing before he is activated. ¶
Smith has pitched five times on his rehab assignment, delivering five scoreless innings. ¶
KUDOS TO KINSTON -- Three Kinston players have been named to the Carolina League All-Star Team: infielders Lonnie Chisenhall and Cord Phelps plus left-hander Eric Berger. ¶
The Carolina League All-Stars will play the California League All-Stars June 23 in Lake Elsinore Calif. ¶
OTHER STUFF -- In his past 27 games, Shin-Soo Choo is batting .333 with five homers and 18 RBI. He is among the top 10 in the league in walks and on-base percentage. *elip Carl Pavano is one of two active pitchers who has pitched a shutout for four different teams (Expos, Marlins, Yankees, Indians). According to Elias Sports Bureau, Mike Hampton is the only other pitcher to equal that feat (Mets, Astros, Rockies, Braves). *elip The Indians haven't won many series this year, but they are two for two against the White Sox. *elip Jamey Carroll is batting .407 in his past seven games.
CHICAGO: If the Indians can hang around the fringes of the Central Division race until the end of the month, disabled starters Jake Westbrook and Aaron Laffey probably will be ready to return to the rotation by July or a few days earlier. ¶
Manager Eric Wedge has named Toma Ohka as the replacement for Fausto Carmona, who was optioned to the minors last week to work on his delivery and his mental approach. But with three off days in the next three weeks, Ohka might only have to pitch twice: June 13 against the Cardinals and June 27 against the Reds. ¶
Even if Ohka's turn is skipped twice, the other four starters will be able to pitch on full four days rest. ¶
""We're talking about where to slot Ohka,'' Wedge said. ""But we really haven't gotten that far yet.'' ¶
MOVE COMING -- Joe Smith struck out the side at Columbus Friday night during an appearance that probably signaled his readiness to come off the disabled list. ¶
During his rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A, Smith has pitched in four games and worked four scoreless innings, allowing two hits, one walk, while striking out six. ¶
""He's close,'' Wedge said. ""It probably will be in the next couple of days.'' ¶
Smith has been on the DL with a right rotator cuff strain since May 2. ¶
WESTBROOK UPDATE -- Jake Westbrook made his first rehab start for Akron on Saturday at Altoona, working three scoreless innings and allowing one hit and one walk, while striking out one. He threw 39 pitches. ¶
OTHER STUFF -- Jamey Carroll is batting .357 in his past eight games. *elip Jeremy Sowers fell to 0-4 for his career against the White Sox. *elip The Tribe is 1-21 when it scores three or fewer runs. *elip Mark DeRosa is batting .314 in his past 18 games. ¶
FARM FACTS -- Eric Berger (3-4, 2.48 ERA) gave up two runs and six hits in five innings, but Kinston lost 4-1 to Winston-Salem in the first game of a doubleheader. In the second game, Russell Young gave up one run and five hits in six innings, as Kinston fell 2-1. Lonnie Chisenhall hit his 10th home run of the year. ¶
CHICAGO: Who among those associated with the Indians thought that Fausto Carmona would be spending at least part of the month of June in Goodyear, Ariz.? ¶
Carmona was optioned to the Arizona Rookie League Friday to make room on the roster for Travis Hafner, who is coming off the disabled list. ¶
If Hafner hadn't been activated, surely someone would have been summoned from Columbus, because Carmona needs to go somewhere to be fixed. In 12 starts, he has posted a 2-6 record and 7.42 earned-run average, and his ERA over his past three starts is an ugly 19.64. ¶
But why not send him to Triple-A or Double-A to be in a more competitive situation? That's exactly what he doesn't need right now. ¶
""We feel like this is the way Fausto can get back up here the quickest,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ""He can take a deep breath, and we can go from there. He's supposed to be in Goodyear on Sunday, and we're in the process of putting a plan together for him.'' ¶
The low key atmosphere of the a rookie league should take the pressure off Carmona to produce instant results. ¶
""When he throws his bullpens, he looks pretty good,'' Wedge said. ""But we have to get the mental and the fundamental working together.'' ¶
Carmona been unable to take his bullpen form into games. ¶
""We don't have a time limit on this, either,'' Wedge said. ""That would only create more anxiety for him.'' ¶
It's unlikely that Carmona will return to Cleveland directly from the rookie league. ¶
""It's safe to say he'll go somewhere else before he comes back,'' Wedge said. ""Sometimes you have to take one step back to go forward two steps.'' ¶
In the meantime, Toma Ohka will take Carmona's spot in the rotation. Ohka has pitched only twice since being recalled from Triple-A, both times in relief of Carmona and both times for five innings. ¶
It has not been determined where Ohka will be slotted. Because of Monday's off day, Cliff Lee will start Tuesday, Carl Pavano Wednesday with Thursday still in doubt. ¶
TREAT GENTLY -- Until further notice, Hafner will come with a tagline: Handle With Care. ¶
The designated hitter was activated from the disabled list, where he has been langoring since April 29 with a sore shoulder. ¶
After spending time on a 20-day rehab assignment at Columbus -- interrupting the process twice because of an aching back and pain in his shoulder -- Hafner's name was written in the lineup against the White Sox Friday night. ¶
Instead of batting in his customary No. 4 spot, Hafner was hitting sixth, with Shin-Soo Choo hitting in cleanup, as he has most of the time in Hafner's absence. ¶
Wedge was hoping he could count on Hafner to play five days a week, but his expectations have diminished. ¶
""He's not going to go out and play three or four days in a row,'' Wedge said. ""We have give him days off. He'll play a couple of days, then be off, then play a couple more. Hopefully, as he gets further away from (October shoulder) surgery, he'll be able to ramp up from that.'' ¶
Wedge also does not want Hafner to think he must return to his high production levels of 2006, at least not for awhile. ¶
""I told him this, too,'' the manager said. ""I don't expect Travis Hafner to be at that level. More important, he can't expect that. All we want him to do is to focus on putting up good at-bats.'' ¶
FARM FACTS -- Prized right-handed starter Hector Rondon left Thursday night's game between Akron and Reading in the fourth inning with right biceps soreness. He is listed as day to day. ¶
MINNEAPOLIS: Jeremy Sowers has spanned the performance spectrum from top to bottom, and he's pitched only four times all season. ¶
His fifth appearance, a start against the White Sox, is scheduled for Saturday at U.S.Cellular Field, where he hopes to avoid a meltdown in command that got him yanked from has last outing against the Yankees. ¶
Sowers was in total control of the game, when he walked the first three batters in the sixth inning and was excused for the rest of the day by manager Eric Wedge. Until then Sowers, had limited New York to one run and three hits. ¶
Wedge is clearly upset with Sowers, saying, ""It's the big leagues. You can't just work through five innings and implode. Maybe you don't have the same stuff after the fifth, but you can't just give them the game.'' ¶
Sowers thinks he was trying to nibble at the outer edges of the plate, though there was little reason for him to change his approach. ¶
""When I was on the mound, I wasn't thinking about anything but throwing strikes,'' he said. ""But I started getting behind in the count and was trying to be too fine. Obviously, that is not the way to do it. Unfortunately, that stalled the game and stalled my outing.'' ¶
Sowers was taken apart by the White Sox May 12, in his second start after being summoned from Columbus, when Jim Thome homered twice and Jayson Nix went deep once in four innings. ¶
""I was working from behind in the count in that game and left some pitches up in the zone,'' Sowers recalled. ¶
He was sent back to Triple-A but made an impact in his first outing after returning by throwing five scoreless innings May 25 against Tampa Bay, ultimately getting credit for a win. ¶
""When you're down eight runs, the idea is to throw strikes, and the pressure is a little less in that situation,'' Sowers said. ¶
Now that injuries have robbed the Tribe of three starters, Sowers appears to have a secure job for at least the rest of this month, if he can be reasonably effective. ¶
""Sure, that takes the edge off a little,'' he said. ""But you never really know how short the leash is. And you don't want to be thinking that if you have a bad outing, you can just go out the next time and try to change it.'' ¶
Sowers understands the bottom line as it applies to commanding the strike zone, which has been the hurdle he must overcome. ¶
""When we're going bad, it's because we're not throwing strikes and getting ahead in the count,'' he said. ""When we're going good, we're not getting behind and we're throwing strikes.'' ¶
BIG DAY -- Chris Gimenez got his first major-league start and made the most of it, hitting a home run with nobody on in the seventh inning off Twins starter Scott Baker then adding a single in the ninth. ¶
""It definitely was a nice way to go,'' Gimenez said. ""I wish the circumstances had been different and we'd won. But it was good to get that (first home run and first hit) out of the way.'' ¶
Gimenez wasn't certain the ball had cleared the fence and was running all out, rather than watching the flight of the ball. ¶
""I was kind of in a state of panic running around the bases,'' he said. ¶
The ball was recovered by Twins officials and given to him. ¶
""This is what you dream about when you're a kid, getting a home run for your first hit,'' Giimenez said. ""It was a lot of fun. I had a blast.'' ¶
Gimenez has been a multi-position player in the minors and started Thursday's game at first before switching to catcher for the eighth inning. ¶
HAFNER ON HAND -- Travis Hafner's plane from Charlotte -- where Columbus was playing -- got him to the Metrodome about half hour before first pitch. ¶
His rehab assignment is over, and it is time to determine whether he will be activated from the DL or go to Arizona and play against minor leaguers. ¶
""Everything is going well,'' he said. ""My shoulder feels pretty good. Lonnie (head trainer Lonnie Soloff) examined me when I got here. They'll figure something out.'' ¶
Asked if he expected to be activated for tonight's game, Hafner said, ""I think so.'' ¶
He had not talked to manager Eric Wedge yet. ¶
OTHER STUFF -- Shin-Soo Choo is batting .341 in his past 22 games. *elip Seven of Luis Valbuena's 12 hits have been doubles, including one Thursday. *elip Tribe batters tied their season high by striking out 13 times. *elip Minnesota starter Scott Baker, who had been striiking out batters at the rate of 6.7 per nine nine innings, struck out 10 in seven innings, a rate of 12.9 per nine innings. *elip Seven earned runs is the most allowed by Fausto Carmona since he gave up seven Sept. 13 of last year against Kansas City. ¶
FARM FACTS -- Joe Smith (right rotator cuff strain) made his third rehab appearance at Columbus and threw another scoreless inning, giving him three. This time, he gave up no hits or walks and stuck out two, as the Clippers beat Charlotte 6-4. *elip Nate Recknagel doubled, singled and drove in a run, but Kinston lost 4-2 to Wilimington. ¶
MINNEAPOLIS: The Indians' body count continued to rise Wednesday with the news that Asdrubal Cabrera was placed on the 15-day disabled list.
Rather than being struck down with a dislocated shoulder, as Cabrera thought, the diagnosis, made in Cleveland, is a sprain.To read more or comment...
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.: Two batters into Tuesday night's game, the Indians suffered another injury.
Asdrubal Cabrera, attempting to break up a double play, slid into second base against Twins shortstop Brendan Harris and didn't get up. When he did, Cabrera was clasping his left shoulder. He left the game and was replaced by Jamey Carroll.To read more or comment...
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.: One day before the end of Travis Hafner's rehabilitation assignment at Columbus, Indians officials weren't certain what to expect from their designated hitter.
Hafner left the Clippers and reported to Progressive Field, ""to get looked and get treatment,'' manager Eric Wedge said.To read more or comment...
CLEVELAND: Barring further disabling injuries, by the end of June the Indians' rotation might include most of the players, and more, who started the season.
Before the end of the month, Scott Lewis, Aaron Laffey and Jake Westbrook might rejoin the rotation.To read more or comment...