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Cleveland Indians

DeRosa back on track

By Sheldon Published: May 3, 2009

The siege appears to be over for Mark DeRosa, whose batting average fell to .195 in the middle of last week before his bat began to spit out a few hits.

The slump cost DeRosa the No. 2 spot in the batting order, which now belongs to Asdrubal Cabrera, who does not intend to surrender it any time soon. But that's not what's important to DeRosa, who in the past six games is batting .360 (9-for-25) with two home runs, seven runs and four RBI.

"It's frustrating, because obviously you want to play well, and you want your teammates to believe in you,'' DeRosa said. ""I didn't have a full spring training with these guys, and I wanted tro get off to a fast start. That didn't happen.''

DeRosa spent much of the pring playing for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic and was not asked to do the volume of work that a normal spring training entails.

"If our record was reversed, I wouldn't be as concerned about individual stats,'' he said. ""But I wasn't helping the team. I'm confident that I'll hit, but everybody has slumps. It just happens to be early, when we haven't been going good.''

DeRosa has been around long enough to be able to train his brain not to dwell on his own success or failure.

""Worrying about personal accolades is not the way to do it,'' he said. ""Especially when you're on a team that's capable of doing something special.'' 

For almost all of April, DeRosa was searching for his swing in a new league against unfamiliar pitchers. 

"I was facing some guys I hadn't seen before,'' he said. ""But I don't want that to be an excuse. The way I was going early, a guy could come out of the stands and get me out. Everything snowballed into a lack of confidence.''

The Tribe has been lacking in all phases of the game, including hitting with runners in scoring position, though that skill has improved the past few days. 

""We really haven't brought a good, aggressive approach at the plate,'' DeRosa said. ""We're hacking on the first pitch or not moving runners or leaving guys on third. We've got to get on a run, not win one, lose one.''

MYSTERY MAN -- With Rafael Perez and Jensen Lewis struggling, manager Eric Wedge is on the verge of flipping a coin to find a setup man.

Not really, but Wedge is being forced to do things he would prefer not doing. 

"Our left-handers are going to have to start facing some right-handers,'' he said, referring to Tony Sipp and Perez. ""We are going to have to look at everybody (for that role). That's just where we are right now. Guys have to make pitches.''

And not fat ones. That has been the problem for Lewis, in particular. He along with Perez were expected to form a strong tandem as setup men for Kerry Wood. But Lewis has given up six home runs in just 12 2/3 innings, most of them in crucial situations.

The entire relief corps has given up 15 homers in 772/3 innings, a rate of one every 5.2 innings.

NEW GUY DAY -- Both Matt LaPorta and Luis Valbuena made their major-league debuts Sunday, LaPorta in the eighth spot in the lineup followed by Valbuena.

LaPorta had a rooting section in the seats behind home plate, led by his father, Vince, who was pointing a camera and wearing an Indians jersey with ""LaPorta'' stitched on the back. LaPorta's mother and wife were among the entourage.

"I didn't see them sitting there,'' LaPorta said. ""I was too locked in.''

For the game, LaPorta was 0-for-4, Valbuena 0-for-2 with a walk.

NUMBERS DON'T LIE -- Brandon Inge came into the game batting .400 (12-for-30) with two home runs against Cliff Lee, who gave up No. 3 in the second inning.

"He has plenty of power,'' Lee said. ""He fouled off three pitches in a row, all fastballs away. Eventually, he got that pitch. Maybe I went there too many times, but I watched the video, it was a pretty good pitch.'' 

SHAKING IT OFF -- Saturday's 9-7 loss to the Tigers was tougher than most, because the Tribe rallied from a 5-0 deficit to take the lead before giving the game away in the eighth inning.

How long did Wedge carry the defeat?

"Last evening,'' he said. ""You've got to wake up the next day and separate from it. But it did take a lot out of the team.''

FARM FACTS -- Andy Marte homered twice, driving in three runs, as Columbus defeated Durham 10-6...Matt Brown homered and doubled, driving in two runs, as Kinston beat Lynchburg 6-2. Matt McBride had two hits and one RBI...Karexon Sanchez homered and singled, driving in two runs, but Lake County lost to Kannapolis 5-4.

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