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Cleveland Indians

Chulk making impression?

By Sheldon Published: April 25, 2009

Vinnie Chulk pitched two strong innings Friday night, throwing 94 mile-per-hour fastballs. 

So far Chulk has been almost an afterthought in the bullpen -- he pitched once in six days -- and was called up from Columbus as the eighth reliever when the bullpen was struggling mightily. 

Manager Eric Wedge had planned to return to seven after last weekend's series in New York, but with Rafael Perez still struggling he changed his mind.

"I don't expect that we'll we'll keep eight relievers forever,'' Wedge said. ""The bullpen is moving in the right direction. When it gets where it needs to be we'll have seven guys.'' 

Just because Chulk was summoned as No. 8 doesn't necessarily mean he will be the pitcher sent back to Triple-A.

So far, he has pitched in five games and given up two earned runs in seven innings. His most grievous sin was making a throwing errror that allowed the Yankees to tie the score in a game they eventually won.

INSTANT TRANSFORMATION -- Tony Sipp doesn't hesitate to admit that he wasn't born a hard thrower.

"Before high school, the curveball was my pitch,'' said the Tribe reliever. ""When I threw my fastball, they hit it out every time.''

During his high school years, Sipp underwent a magical transformation.

"I told the coach that I thought I could throw harder,'' he said. ""I just felt like I could. I never tried to overthrow.''

These days, Sipp gets his fastball to the plate at about 91 miles per hour.

MENTAL HEALTH DAY -- Jhonny Peralta is hitless in his past five games (0-for-17) with seven strikeouts, prompting Wedge to give him Saturday night off. 

"Jhonny's just been in a little funk,'' he said. ""This is a guy I feel will be a run producer for us and he already has been. Hopefully, the warm weather will help him.''

WANTED: A DEFENSE -- The defense cost the Tribe three runs Friday night, enough to give the Twins a 5-1 win.

"We've had (bad) moments in all areas of the club,'' Wedge said. ""But one area that out focus needs to get better in is the defense.'' 

Even when several players simultaneously have problems catching the ball and throwing it, there is no single solution that fits everyone.

"It might be one area of the club, but each individual has to fight whatever battle he has to overcome,'' Wedge said. ""This is the big leagues, and you have to make big-league plays.''

LEE HONORED -- Before Saturday night's game, Ryan Garko presented Cliff Lee with two Players Choice Awards: one as the American League's Outstanding pitcher and one as the league's Comeback Player of the Year.

To go with the award, Lee designated that the Miracle League of Arkansas and the Arkansas Children's Hospital receive $20,000 each from the Players Trust, a foundation established and operated by big leaguers.

FARM FACTS -- Matt LaPorta hit his fourth home run of the season and singled, driving in two runs, as Columbus outlasted Indianapolis 9-7. Luis Valbuena had three hits, including a double and triple, and three RBI. Wes Hodges also had three hits, and David Dellucci, on a rehab assignment, played his first game in the outfield after three days of being the designated hitter.

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