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Cleveland Indians

Tough year for Wood

By Sheldon Published: August 16, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS: It hasn't been a fun season for Kerry Wood. ¶
   When he signed on to be the Indians' closer last winter, he was anticipating a stretch run that would culminate in a postseason berth. He also expected to routinely be summoned to the mound in the ninth inning to preserve wins. ¶
   Instead, manager Eric Wedge has been forced to use Wood 18 times in non save and tie  situations -- including Sunday -- to try and keep his closer sharp. Save situations have been relatively scarce. Wood has had only 20, succeeding 15 times. ¶
   ""It's been tough for me personally, getting off to the (poor) start that I did,'' Wood said. ""And as a team, we had high expectations leaving camp, legitimate expectations.'' ¶
   Most closers thrive on regular activity. Wood recognizes this, but he also takes responsibility for his failures.¶
  ""I've had some chances and didn't get it done,'' he said. ""I look at it this way: I didn't get a bigger work load, so I've saved a little wear and tear on my arm.'' ¶
   Pitching in non save situations should be no different than working with the game on the line, but the reaility is that many closers have trouble staying focused when they aren't performing their specialty. ¶
   ""We have to say that it doesn't make any difference,'' Wood said. ""And we try. But when it's not a save, the adrenalin doesn't kick in. The great ones can do it (bear down), the rest of us have a hard time.'' ¶
   Wood could do without the 4.71 earned-run average and seven home runs allowed in 41 innings. One problem has been a balky breaking pitch that he has gotten under control only recently. ¶
  ""My breaking ball was there early last year (with the Cubs),'' he said. ""Then I got a blister and started throwing a cutter. I'd come in thinking that if I needed to I had that cutter to fall back on. ¶
   ""But because of that, I'd give up on the breaking ball if I didn't get a couple of them over right away.'' ¶
   Lately, Wood has received more chances to pitch with the game on the line, making him more consistent. ¶
   ""I feel like he's been at his best the last four or five times he's been out there,'' Wedge said. ""He's thrown the ball where he wants to, and his breaking ball has been more of a weapon.'' ¶
   Wood has one year left on his contract, but with the recent trades of key players, contending for a playoff berth will be a longshot. ¶
   ""Obviously, we are not in the same position we were when we left camp,'' Wood said. ""But I signed a two-year contract to pitch for this organization. Either I'll be pitching down the stretch in a race, or I'll be part of a rebuilding year, helping young kids break in.'' ¶
   RARE TRIBUTE -- Manager Eric Wedge was talkng to a group of reporters outside the visiting clubhouse Sunday, when crew chief Bob Davidson was openng the door to enter the umpire's locker room a few yards away. ¶
   Davidson saw Wedge and his face brightened. ¶
   ""Hey Eric,'' Davidson said, ""You're one of the best arguers I've seen in a long time.'' ¶
   Davidson went on to compliment Wedge on his debating skills -- hostile as they were -- that emerged when the ump and the skipper went nose to nose after a play Friday night in which Wedge was ejected. ¶
   ""I called my wife after the game and told her how much fun it was,'' Davidson said. ¶
   Problems arose when Davidson called Justin Morneau out on a foul tip into the glove of Kelly Shoppach. ¶
   Morneau retreated to the dugout without disputing the call, but Twins manager Ron Gardenhire asked Davidson to get help on the play. He did and first base umpire Wally Bell said the foul tip hit the ground. That's when Wedge entered the picture. ¶
   CROWE UPDATE -- Trevor Crowe was on the bench for the second game in a row because of a sore oblique, but he was cleared to pinch run and play the outfield. ¶
   Wedge said Crowe was permitted to take batting practice from the right side (Crowe is a switch hitter), but that he preferred to err on the side of caution. ¶
   ""Hopefully, with the day off tomorrow, he'll feel a lot better on Tuesday,'' the manager said. ""We'll see how he is when he shows up then.'' ¶
   Crowe insists the soreness is relatively minor, and he should know. ¶
   ""In '06 I was out for six weeks with an oblique strain,'' he said. ""This isn't anything like that. It just got a little sore over time. I should be OK in a couple of days.'' ¶
    OTHER STUFF -- The Indians are 15-9 in their past 24 games and have won six of their past eight series. *elip Aaron Laffey is 4-1 for his career against the Twins. *elip Laffey has allowed three home runs in his 17 games, including 11 starts. *elip The Tribe came into Sunday's game with the fewest home runs in August (3) of any team in the big leagues. *elip  Asdrubal Cabrera has an 11-game hitting streak (a .395 average). ¶
   FARM FACTS -- Adam Davis doubled twice, singled and drove in one run, as Kinston beat Salem 5-1. Tim Fedroff had two singles and two RBI. Scott Lewis got the rehab start, giving up one run adn two hits in 32/3 innings. *elip Jesus Brito had two hits and three RBI, and Jason Kipnis had two hits and one RBI, as Mahoning Valley defeated Lowell 7-6. ¶

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