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Cleveland Indians

Lee takes step backward

By Sheldon Published: March 27, 2009

It looked like Cliff Lee had righted the ship in his last start, holding the Rockies to two runs in five innings.

But Friday against the Giants, Lee was shelled for 12 hits and eight runs (seven earned) in five innings, as the Indians fell 10-3 at Scottsdale Stadium.

"It wasn't the result I was looking for, but I did get better as the game went on,'' said Lee, who allowed seven runs the first two innings and one in his final three.

"Cliff was just a little off,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ""And we didn't play good behind him. He was up with his fastball early. He did get through five innings and 90 pitches. He has one more start, so it's important for him to go out and tighten things up.''

In contrast to last spring, when Lee was contending with Jeremy Sowers and Aaron Laffey to earn a spot in the rotation, Lee came to camp this year with only one motivating goal: to prepare for the season.

"It's definitely a little harder to get up for games in spring training, compared to the regular season,'' he said. ""There's just a different intensity. But I still have work at locating my pitches and getting better.''

Lee's teammates didn't help much in getting him through the three-run first, as Josh Barfield made an error in left, and Asdrubal Cabrera committed an error at second. The Giants also made the most of a couple of seeing-eye ground ball hits through the infield.

"It happens,'' Lee said. "It seems like I've had a lot of those this spring. But there's nothing I can do about that.''

Lee was asked about the team's refusal to talk about a contract extension, because of the uncertain economy.

"They told me after last season they wanted to talk,'' Lee said. "But this spring they said they couldn't because of the economy.''

Lee is tied to the Tribe through next year because of an option clause for 2010.

"I respect the way they view it,'' Lee said. ""I can't force anybody to do anything. That's basically it.''

LAZY DAYS? -- Is the length of spring training making the Indians lackadaisical?

"We're getting a little sloppy on defense and a little slow to get to balls,'' Wedge said. ""I'll see how we play tomorrow. We still have seven or eight games left.''

Will Wedge be addressing the troops?

"You're going to allow certain things,'' he said. ""Other things have to be taken up, depending on where you are in camp.''

DECISION SOON -- The mystery as to who will win the job as the final utility infielder/outfielder won't be a mystery much longer.

"We'll know that in a day or two,'' Wedge said, referring to the battle among Josh Barfield, Trevor Crowe and Tony Graffanino.

Barfield, a second baseman, has adapted well to learning to play the outfield, but he needs work at third, which he also has been instructed to play. Offensively, Barfield still has struggled.

"He's done a lot of work that hasn't translated yet to games yet,'' Wedge said. ""But his approach is better. The ball is coming off his bat better. He's headed in the right direction, but he's not there yet.''

DELLUCCI SAFE -- It appears that David Dellucci is in no danger of losing his roster spot, at least for the time being.

"As of today,'' Wedge said, when asked if the outfielder had made the club. "It's more a matter of how much he plays and when. He's still missing some pitches he should hit, but he's getting better.''

PREDICTABLE OUTCOME -- Wedge was not surprised when Scott Lewis gave up five runs in three innings Thursday, one day after being named the No. 4 starter.

"You would like Scott to make two or three more starts after he got that job,'' the manager said. "I know he had a different mindset after he was named to the rotation. Guys need some time to get their heads on straight after something like that.''

MUCH TOO LONG -- Spring training was expanded from six to seven weeks this year to accommodate players competing in the World Baseball Classic.

As far as Wedge is concerned, even six weeks is too long.

"The only reason it's that long is for the starting pitchers,'' he said. "But all you have to do is have them come in at a different (earlier) time.''
 
MARCHING ONWARD -- The Indians travel to Tucson this afternoon to play the Diamondbacks. Zach Jackson will start with Vinne Chulk, Jensen Lewis, Masa Kobasyashi and Edward Mujica set to pitch in the bullpen.

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