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Vizcaino joins bullpen crew

By Sheldon Published: May 14, 2009

   ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.: Luis Vizcaino spent a week in Cleveland only to take a free ride on the Indians' charter flight back to his home in Tampa Wednesday night. ¶
   He is the newest piece of the puzzle, as General Mark Shapiro tries to patch together the club's beleaguered bullpen. Valbuena, 34, hasn't pitched since April 21, the day before he was designated for assignment by the Cubs, for whom he appeared four times and did not give up a run in 32/3 innings. ¶
   Asked why he was tossed away, Valbuena said, ""I don't know what it was. It's just baseball. I pitched pretty good over there.'' ¶
   Apparently what happened is this: Chicago wanted to dump starter Jason Marquis' $6.375,000 salary last year and did it by taking Vizcaino from the Rockies. When an opportune moment came to unload Vizcaino, whom the Cubs didn't really want in the first place, they took it., ¶
   Enter the Tribe, which summoned Vizcaino to Cleveland last week to throw batting practice twice and a bullpen session once before signing him on Wednesday. ¶
   Apparently, there was no neccessity of seeing Vizcaino retire Triple-A hitters, even if it would be to scrape off the rust of not pitching for 31/2 weeks. The big-league bullpen is crying for help right now. ¶
   What did manager Eric Wedge tell Vizcaino upon his arrival? ¶
   ""He said, "Welcome to the team and get ready every day to pitch,' '' Vizcaino said. ¶
   Wedge admittedly isn't sure how Vizcaino will fit among his other relievers, if he fits at all. ¶
   ""With the uncertainty of our bullpen, it makes sense to take a shot at him,'' the manager said. ""I don't know exactly what role he's going to be in. We don't haved established roles for anybody right now except Rafael Betancourt in the eighth and Kerry Wood in the ninth.'' ¶
   Last year, Vizcaino posted a 1-2 record and 5.28 earned-run average in 43 appearances, giving up 10 home runs, 19 walks and striking out 49 in 46 innings. ¶
   To make room for Vizcaino on the roster, Jeremy Sowers was optioned to Columbus after making two unsatisfactory starts, giving up 12 runs in nine innings. ¶
   ""You have to command the baseball to be successful up here,'' Wedge said. ""Unless you have electric stuff, you have to throw the ball where you want. Even then, you can't keep missing your spots. So Jeremy has to go down and work on that.'' ¶
   When Sowers was mowing down batters his rookie year of 2006, he had pinpoint control. ¶
   ""The league didn't know him,'' Wedge said. ""But after that year they had scouting reports. The league adjusted to him, and he had to adjust back. Some pitchers just never do.'' ¶
   NEXT -- With Jeremy Sowers having returned to Columbus, the Indians are looking for a starter to face Kent State product Andy Sonnanstine on Sunday. ¶
   It will not be Aaron Laffey, who was moved to the bullpen a week ago. ¶
   ""I'm not sure yet who it will be,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ""We talked about it all morning. We're working through our system for somebody down there.'' ¶
   Wedge didn't name the candidates at Columbus, but beyond David Huff (5-1, 4.35 ERA), there isn't much to choose from. The downside with Huff is that he might not be ready to make his big-league debut. ¶
   As for Laffey, Wedge said, ""Not for this Sunday. There's still a chance that he'll end up in the rotation, but until we get things settled in the bullpen, he'll probably stay in relief. He's pitched in two of our last three wins out of the bullpen, so that's real.'' ¶
   VERSATILITY -- Wedge showed off the club's versatility Thursday night by moving shortstop Jhonny Peralta to third, third baseman Mark DeRosa to first and moving Asdrubal Cabrera (who usually plays second but is just as good at short) to short and inserting rookie Luis Valbuena at second. ¶
   ""This allows us to be quicker up the middle on the turf,'' Wedge said, reasoning that with Fausto Carmona on the mound, there will be lots of ground balls to short and second and not many at the corners, because batters won't pull the ball. ¶
   How often will Peralta play to third? ¶
   ""It's something I think we'll see more of,'' the manager said. ""But I wouldn't go as far as saying he'll settle into third. We'll see.'' ¶
    STOP THE PRESSES -- Vinnie Chulk is back in the Tribe fold. After being designated for assignment May 7, Chulk was put on waivers and cleared on Thursday. He accepted a Triple-A assignment (he didn't have to) and is back in Columbus. ¶
   FARM FACTS -- Michael Aubrey hit his third home run of the year and drove in two runs, as Columbus beat Lehigh Valley 4-3. ¶


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