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Cleveland Indians

Sowers looks for answers

By Sheldon Published: May 26, 2009

   CLEVELAND: Like many of the Indians, either because of necessity or in the name of versatility, Jeremy Sowers is playing out of position. ¶
   Sowers made his first big-league appearance as a reliever Monday night and pitched five shutout innings, giving up three hits and one walk to Tampa Bay. ¶
  In contrast to his two 2009 starts for the Tribe, there were no issues of control or throwing pitches in the hot areas of the strike zone. As a starter, Sowers was stung for 12 runs, 14 hits and six walks in only nine innings. ¶
   These numbers were enough to get his ticket punched to Columbus, where he began the season. But when starter Anthony Reyes and new reliever Aaron Laffey were injured in the same game over the weekend, Sowers was called up from Triple-A to help in the bullpen against the Rays. ¶
  Until he took advantage of an opportunity to pitch Monday night, Sowers also had been a candidate to start either tonight or Thursday. ¶
   The question with Sowers has always been the same: What keeps him from recapturing the magic that made him an overnight sensation in his rookie year of 2006? Sowers isn't quite sure, but he has a pretty good idea. ¶
   ""My command hasn't been what ity needs to be the last couple of years,'' he said. ""And that definitely doesn't help. There are a myriad of things I can blame for not putting the ball where I want, but I don't have a real explanation. Maybe I think too much.'' ¶
   Partly because Sowers matriculated at prestigious Vanderbilt university, and his vocabulary includes such words as ""myriad,'' he became known as a thinking man's pitcher, a guy who could analyze an opposing hitter in the moment and exploit the weaknesses he uncovered. ¶
   But when he struggled in 2007, people began saying he overanalyzed and over thought each situation. ¶
  ""Coming out of spring training, I was complicating things that I don't need to be complicating,'' Sowers said. ""I guess I need to get back to being aggressive. I did it Triple-A. Now I need to do it up here.'' ¶
   Sowers knows he can't stop thinking. It's a question of what he's thinking about. ¶
   ""When I'm out there on the mound, the game can speed up,'' he said. ""If I give up two doubles in the span of 10 pitches, I might think, "What the hell just happened?' It's important to eliminate those kinds of  thoughts. I still know what I want to do out there. It's just a matter of commanding the pitches.'' ¶
   GOODBYE, MATT -- Because Grady Sizemore's left elbow still hasn't stopped hurting, the Indians optioned Matt LaPorta back to Columbus and called up Trevor Crowe. ¶
   ""It was a combination of the things,'' said manager Eric Wedge in explaining the move. ""We want to continue to DH Grady for a few days and let his elbow calm down. Crowe can play center field, along with Ben (Francisco). ¶
   ""It's also time for Matt to go down and play every day. We want him to play first base plus left and right. I would like to see him at first a little more just because he needs more reps there.'' ¶
   LaPorta batted .190 with two doubles, one home run and four RBI in 13 games since being called up May 2. ¶
   ´´It's hard for a young player to get everyday at-bats unless he dives in with immediate success,'' Wedged said. ""Matt is a good athlete. He moves around well, and from an offensive standpoint he showed signs of what he's capable of. ¶
   ""But I don't know of anyone in this clubhouse who hasn't had to go back (to the minors) at least once. It's part of a player's development.'' ¶
   Asked about the severity of Sizemore's elbow injury, Wedge said, ""It's hanging around. I think we need to give it some time'' ¶
    PARTIAL ANSWER -- Wedge said that David Huff would start Thursday afternoon against the Rays, despite giving up 13 runs in 62/3 innings in his first two big-league starts. ¶
   ""We'll keep Jeremy in the bullpen for awhile, though he's not usable tonight (after throwing 56 Monday night), Wedge said. ¶
   Though the manager postponed his announcement of a starter for tonight's game, it probably will be Zach Jackson, whose last start for Columbus was Thursday, when he gave up three unearned runs and five hits in six innings. ¶
   Overall, Jackson has a 3-2 record and 3.09 ERA at Triple-A. ¶
   SECOND TIME AROUND -- Crowe made the team out of spring training but was optioned back to Columbus on May 2, at which time he was batting .182 in 12 games (33 at-bats).  ¶
   Since returning to Triple-A, he has batted .230 with one homers, six RBI and five steals in 21 games (74 at-bats). ¶
   NO PITCH LIMIT -- Monday's night's 11-10 comeback win by the Tribe featured 19 walks (10 by Rays pitchers) and 421 pitches (230 by Rays pitchers). No wonder the game lasted 3 hours, 51 minutes. ¶
   CLOCK IS RUNNING -- Travis Hafner (shoulder soreness) took batting practice at Progressive Field on Tuesday and is scheduled to do so again today, after which he will continue his rehab assignment at Columbus. ¶
   If he returns to the Triple-A team on Thursday, Hafner can spend a maximum of seven more days on rehab. After that, he will have to return to the DL or be activated. ¶
   FARM FACTS -- Michael Brantley doubled twice in Columbus' 11-1 defeat to Charlotte. ¶

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