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Cleveland Indians

Tribe needs to slow down opponents

By Sheldon Published: July 3, 2009

   CLEVELAND: Allowing teams to take liberties on the bases has not been one of the Indians' bigger problems. But it has been a problem. [ep
   Going into Friday night's game against the Athletics, the Tribe had given up more stolen bases (66) than any other team in the American League except the Red Sox (73). [ep
   Moreover, Tribe catchers Victor Martine and Kelly Shoppach have thrown out only 16 percent of would-be baserunners, putting them near the bottom of the league. White Sox catchers have been the least effective, throwing out 13 percent of opposing runners. The Orioles are at 15 percent, and the Red Sox are tied with Cleveland at 16 percent. [ep
   Catchers get the blame for stolen bases, because they deliver the throws, but as often as not, pitchers are responsible for failing to keep runners in check by not paying attention or refusing to take preventive measures. [ep
   ""Controlling the running game is usually a group effort,'' manager Eric Wedge said Friday. ""It's something we got a lot better at the last couple of years, but it's become a problem again this season. We have some younger pitchers who are trying to control the running game, but it's a work in progress.'' [ep
   Wedge is not excusing Martinez and Shoppach. [ep
   ""Victor was one of the best for a year and a half, and I think he has to catch up again after his (elbow) injury last year. Throwing has been Kelly's strength, but he's let it get away from him a little this year.'' [ep
   In 41 games behind the plate, Shoppach has thrown out 19.5 percent (8-of-41) of would-be base stealers, compared to 13 percent (4-of-38) for Martinez in 39 games. [ep
   It's possible that Martinez's elbow has not yet regained full strength after off-season surgery. Shoppach underwent arthroscopic surgery last winter to repair cartilage in his right knee, though nobody has suggested that has affected his throwing. [ep
    ""I think he's starting to get a little better with his throwing,'' Wedge said. ""I'm very comfortable with him back there if he gets going offensively.'' [ep
   Shoppach's 21-homer year in 2008 earned him increased playing time in 2009, but so far he has struggled at the plate, batting .200 with six home runs and19 RBI. [ep
   Wedge does not think Shoppach's difficulties at the plate have affected his defense, but if he continues as he has, this will be his poorest season throwing out runners. [ep
   In 2006, Shoppach had a 37 percent success rate; in 2007, it was 44 percent, and last year it was 21.3 percent. [ep
   WEEKEND OF DECISION -- Aaron Laffey made his fourth rehab start and Rafael Betancourt his first rehab appearance at Columbus Friday night, and Fausto Carmona will move up from Akron to start for the Clippers Sunday. [ep
   If everything goes well for Laffey, he should be activated from the disabled list and return to the rotation around mid-week. [ep
   Betancourt probably will need at least one more rehab outing before he comes off the DL, but Carmona might be ready to join the Tribe, depending on how he is evaluated. [ep
   Asked if Laffey would have to remain on his rehab assignment if he has a successful outing Friday night, manager Eric Wedge said, ""That would be enough.'' [ep
   As for Carmona's status, the manager said, ""He has to get to a point where his entire focus is on one day, the day he pitches.'' [ep
   IN LIMBO -- Toma Ohka'a last start was a week ago, and he is not scheduled to pitch again through the series with the White Sox that ends on Thursday.  [ep
  ""We're going to see how Laffey works out,'' Wedge said. ""And with the off day yesterday and another one Monday, wew have more flexibility.'' [ep
   No starter has been announced for Wednesday, a spot that might be reserved for Laffey.  For now, Ohka is in the bullpen. [ep
    ON THE DOTTED LINE -- The Tribe signed its 28th round pick in last month's amateur draft, right-hander Nick Sarianides from Chattahoochee Valley Community College in Phenix City, Ala. The club has signed half of its 50 draftees. [ep
   FARM FACTS -- Matt LaPorta hit his 13th home run of the season, doubled twice and drove in five runs, as Columbus routed Toledo 16-3. Andy Marte hit his 11th homer, doubled and drove in two runs. *elip Russell Young (2-3, 4.50 ERA) threw six shutout innings, giving up one hit, as Kinston beat Wilmington 5-1. *elip Danny Salazar delivered six scoreless innings, giving up three hits, in Lake County's 4-1 win over West Virginia. [ep

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