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Cleveland Indians

Have mask, will play first

By Sheldon Published: May 24, 2009

   CINCINNATI: It's hard to get away with anything if you're part of a major-league clubhouse. [ep
   In the seventh inning of the Indians' 7-6 win over the Reds Saturday night, Jonny Gomes slapped spinning ground ball toward first that bounced off Mark DeRosa's shin for an error. Sunday morning, DeRosa found a hockey stick, goalie mask and pads in his locker. [ep
   ""They (teammates) thought I should be a goalie,'' he said. ""They said I looked like a goalie.'' [ep
  Can DeRosa skate?
   ""Actually, I can skate a little bit,'' he said. [ep
   He also can play third base, second base, left field, right field and now, first base, a little bit. [ep
   Manager Eric Wedge has used him four times as a starter at first. His play won't make anyone forget Keith Hernandez or Eddie Murray in their prime, but Wedge feels that he does the job well enough. [ep
   ""He's had to work a little bit harder at first,'' the manager said. ""And he's had a couple of tough plays there.'' [ep
   DeRosa takes switching positions in stride. It's what he does for a living. [ep
   ""I feel like a lot of guys could do it, or maybe I'm selling myself short,'' he said. ""I would have loved to play one position and stay there. It would be a lot easier. But I've done this so long, it's my job to be versatile.'' [ep
   DeRosa admits that he is not an accomplished first baseman. It is not one of the positions he was accustomed to playing coming into this season. But he did start a game there in the World Baseball Classic. [ep
   ""That's the word, getting an education,'' is how he describes his experience at first. ""Playing the position for a whole game is different than picking somebody up for a few innings.'' [ep
   DeRosa didn't have a life plan to play baseball for a living. In high school, he played baseball and football, which he much preferred. [ep
   ""I was all football,'' he said. ""Baseball is so much mental. As a quarterback, you read your keys and throw the ball. It's not like baseball, where you can hit four line drives (that are caught) and go home mad.'' [ep
   He played both sports at Penn and played one summer in the prestigious Cape Cod League, which probably gave a boost to his career. [ep
   ""I probably would have got drafted anyway,'' he said, ""but it wouldn't have been as high (7th round. How many baseball players do you know that come from New Jersey? I can name every one of them.'' [ep
   PART OF THE ANSWER -- Following a substandard performance by David Huff Saturday night, manager Eric Wedge feels he has two openings in the rotation to fill. [ep
  ""I think Jeremy Sowers will pitch in one of those games,'' he said Sunday. ""It's a matter of how we line up during the week as to when.'' [ep
   Anthony Reyes' elbow injury created an opening for a starter on Wednesday, and the manager hasn't determined if Huff will get another start. [ep
   ""I haven't decided,'' the manager said. ""I talked to Mark (Shapiro) about it with morning.'' [ep
   If Huff is sent back to Columbus, there are few viable alternatives, though in Huff's two big-league starts, he did not set the bar very high, giving up 13 runs in 62/3 innings. [ep
   HELP WANTED -- The Tribe bullpen pitched more innings (151/3) than the starters (12), allowing three runs and 10 hits, and manager Eric Wedge has few available relievers for tonight's game against the Rays. [ep
   ""Carl Willis (pitching coach) and I will have to talk about that, and I'll talk to Mark (Shapiro)'' the manager said, referring to the possibility of calling a reliever up to get through the next game or two. Obviously, we've gone hard at the bullpen the last three games.""
   More than likely, Luis Vizcaino, Rafael Betancourt, at the very least, will not have rested arms. Jensen Lewis, Matt Herges and Greg Aquino also might be questionable. [ep 
   REST NEEDED -- After lifting his batting average to .400, Victor Martinez has gone 0-for-13 the past three games. [ep
   Some people would say it's about time, that Martinez was far ahead of the law of averages. Wedge thinks Martinez needs a break. [ep
   ""I think we have to give him a day (off),'' the manager said. ""But I know he won't like that.'' [ep
   SMITH UPDATE -- Joe Smith (right rotator cuff strain) will throw a bullpen today with hitters standing at the plate then pitch a simulated game on Wednesday, before going on a brief rehabilitation assignment. [ep
   That means he could be back in the Tribe bullpen in a week. [ep
  ONE MORE DAY -- Jhonny Peralta (jammed wrist) spent a second consecutive game out of the lineup, but Wedge indicated he probably would be back tonight. [ep
   ""He's better today, and he's available,'' the manager said. ""I felt like his swing was going in the right direction before he hurt his wrist, and the last thing I want to do is have him favor his wrist and cause him to go backward with his swing.'' [ep
   FARM FACTS -- Andy Marte had four hits and Trevor Crowe and Jordan Brown homered, but Columbus lost 4-3 to Buffalo. Marte raised his average to .370. *elip Nate Recknagel doubled and singled three times, driving in a run, as Kinston beat Frederick 10-5. Cord Phelps had three hits and two RBI, and Ron Rivas doubled, singled and drove in two runs. *elip Abner Abreu hit his fourth home run of the season, singled twice and drove in one run, but Lake County lost to West Virginia 8-6. [ep

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