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Cleveland Indians

Dellucci aims to lift spirits in clubhouse

By Sheldon Published: May 1, 2009

Despite the Indians' struggles the first month of the season, David Dellucci does not regard his primary task as mission impossible.

"The most important thing I can do is loosen up the clubhouse, do what I do in there,'' said Dellucci, who was activated from the disabled list Friday after spending 11 days on a rehabilitation assignment in Columbus.

Being the Tribe's head cheerleader is not an assignment given him by manager Eric Wedge, but even from a distance Dellucci could tell that the occupants of the clubhouse were a little glum.

"It's always tough to watch your team play on TV, whether they're winning or losing,'' Dellucci said. ""When you're not winning on a consistent basis, you want to be there for the clubhouse effect. The way a team feels in the clubhouse is related to how it plays on the field.

"My main goal is to get the clubhouse back to where we're playing loose. I could tell on TV that these guys were not having much fun. I need to tell some jokes, talk some trash. It's easier to do when you're winning. It's not so easy when you're not playing to your potential. But someone has to take on that role.''

Dellucci went on the DL March 30, two days after he was scratched from the lineup in an exhibition game with a strained left calf. Ever since, he has been working his way back. 

"It's kind of like I had spring training (in Columbus) at a more competitive level,'' he said. ""I've  been swinging the bat really well (.414 average), and I'm hoping there will be a carry-over in confidence. Being down there gave me a chance to work on my swing.''

Dellucci was in the lineup Friday night as the designated hitter against the Tigers. With Travis Hafner sidelined with a sore shoulder, Dellucci might be called on to play regularly if he can produce. 

"He's been swinging the bat well and moving around well,'' Wedge said. ""We have available at-bats at DH right now, and that's probably where he will get most of his time. But we can also use him in left.''

Whatever Wedge asks of him is fine with Dellucci.

"Eric didn't say anything to me today,'' he said. ""He didn't have to. I'll do whatever he wants, and he knows that. There's no need to tell me.'' 

PERALTA'S LOST SWING -- Jhonny Peralta has been in a deep slump since he collected three hits in the Indians' 22-4 win at Yankee Stadium April 18.

"Jhonny's just fighting through a tough time,'' manager Eric Wedge said Friday. ""He's not swinging well, and he's pressing. We'll have to keep an eye on him.''

Going into Friday night's game, Peralta's average over his past nine games is .059 with 15 strikeouts in 34 at-bats.

NEW MONTH, NEW START? -- The Tribe has to be happy that April is history. Maybe the month of May will mark a turnaround from an 8-14 record during the first month of the season.

"When you get to May, it means better weather,'' Wedge said. ""By now, you have an idea what the team has gone through -- the good, the bad and the ugly -- and you have an idea how to fix it.''

Some April numbers: a .265 team batting average, 5.3 runs per game, a .358 on base percentage, .441 slugging percentage, 5.81 earned-run average. 

SHORT STAY -- To make room for Dellucci on the roster, the Tribe optioned lefty reliever Rich Rundles back to Columbus.

Rundles was called up to shore up a temporarily fatigued bullpen on Wednesday but did not pitch.

FARM FACTS -- Stephen Head had three hits and one RBI, but Columbus lost 6-3 to Durham... Matt McBride doubled and singled twice, driving in two runs, but Kinston dropped a 6-5 decision to Salem. Cord Phelps had two doubles.

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