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Versatility a ""necessity'' for Wedge

By Sheldon Published: June 30, 2009

   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

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