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Cleveland Indians

Now is no time to quit

By Sheldon Published: July 10, 2009

DETROIT: Why not call it a season after the All-Star Game?

Forfeit the rest of the games and tell the guys, "Don't fall in any holes over the winter; eat your granola, and see you in Goodyear next spring.''

Sounds like a plan for the Indians.

Of course, there's a catch, maybe two: The commissioner wouldn't allow it, and at least a few fans would object after spending thousands of dollars on season tickets.

So the Tribe will play on, even though the club is double-digit games out of first place. That's the way it works in professional sports. Every player knows it, and every player is supposed to find a motivation for coming to the ballpark and giving his best (or almost his best) effort.

And why shouldn't players be ""hard tryers,'' as Charlie Manuel used to say? They're still getting paid lots of money, they need to show their bosses that they take their careers seriously and that they want to win as many as possible for the team and the fans.

One thing is certain: Manager Eric Wedge will be watching in the second half how his players react to being also-rans.

"I think you have to have a heightened awareness of that in the situation we're in,'' he said Friday. ""You still have to come to the park and try and win.

"We're a longshot. I understand that. But this is a crazy game. Stranger things have happened. Just look at some of the comebacks in September, let alone with more than two months to play.''

Even if the Tribe continues to spin its wheels, the organization will have to make evaluations of players for next year. And players have to be mindful that their careers could be at stake.

Both Wedge and General Manager Mark Shapiro value the rest of the season for the opportunity it affords them to look at young, developing players. Ben Francisco and Ryan Garko, for example.

Francisco has had a disappointing season, but it does not appear that Tribe officials have come to definitive conclusions about him.

"Benny has good bat speed, and he has some strength,'' Wedge said. ""He has a chance to be a pretty good player, but he's young.''

Neither Francisco nor Garko ia assured of being a part of the 2010 club, but compared to the hordes of relievers who have come and gone this year, those two are Hall of Fame players by comparison.

"We'll use the three games before the break to look at them,'' Wedge said of the pitchers, indicating the sorting out process probably will begin after the All-Star Game.

GOOD NEWS -- Scott Lewis (left elbow strain) visited Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., on Monday and came away with a positive medical report.

"Andrews deemed him (the elbow) structurally intact,'' head trainer Lonnie Soloff said Friday. ´´He recommended two weeks of advanced strength activities then a return to throw program.''

Andrews performed Tommy John surgery on Lewis' elbow when he was a starting pitcher at Ohio State.

"Andrews was firm in saying that Scott has to learn to pitch with some degree of discomfort,'' Soloff said. ""When he did his exmination, Scott had no symptoms.''

Lewis will spend seven days in Cleveland working out then head for the Tribe's complex in Goodyear, Ariz., to begin his throwing program, about 10 days from now. He is expected to pitch in a game (probably on a rehab assignment) three to four weeks after that.

WESTBROOK BACK ON SCHEDULE -- After being shutdown following a minor setback, Jake Westbrook (Tommy John surgery) has progressed to the point were he threw a 30-pitch, fastball, changeup bullpen Friday morning in Cleveland.

Westbrook will threw three or four bullpens, followed by one or more simulated games. He is expected to be activated at the end of the month or the beginning of August.

WHATEVER IS NECESSARY -- Thursday in Chicago, Wedge used closer Kerry Wood to get the last four outs to save a 10-8 win over the White Sox. It was the first time this year he had pitched more than one inning.

"I'm open to doing that,'' Wedge said, ""as long as Kerry can handle it physically.''

FARM FACTS -- Trevor Crowe and Wes Hodges each had three hits and three RBI, as Columbus blanked Indianapolis 9-0. Hodges hit his third home run of the year. Chuck Lofgren (3-5, 5.03 ERA) worked seven innings, allowing two hits and one walk... Rafael Vera had four hits and one RBI in Mahoning Valley's 4-3 win over Auburn. Chun-Hsiu Chen and Jason Smit each had three hits... Jesus Brito tripled, doubled and singled twice, driving in three runs and raising his averge to .390, as the Arizona League Indians beat the Mariners 16-5. Chris Kersten had five hits and two RBI, and Casey Frawley had three hits and four RBI.

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