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Cleveland Indians

Tribe to keep options open with White

By Sheldon Published: August 18, 2009

CLEVELAND: To say negotiations between the Indians and their first-round draft choice, Alex White, went down to the wire might be a little extreme. ¶
   The deal got done at 11:56 p.m. Monday, a good four minutes before the deadline, plenty of time for assistant general manager Chris Antonetti to send a time-stamped E-mail to the commisioner's office verifying that an agreement had been reached before midnight. ¶
   Antonetti did the heavy lifting on the $2.25 million contract, but then negotiating contracts with a deadline bearing down is all part of the job. Sixteen of the 32 first-round picks were unsigned heading into the final day of negotiations; all but three came to terms, and the deadline did not apply to one of those players. ¶
   White, a right-handed starter from the University of North Carolina, can take it easy for awhile. It is too late for him to get his arm ready to pitch for a minor-league team whose season will end around Labor Day. ¶
   ""We need to lay out a plan for the fall,'' General Manager Mark Shapiro said Tuesday. ""He'll go to instructional league and we'll weigh if the Arizona Fall League is an option. He's already pitched a lot of innings, and he's coming to big-league camp in the spring.'' ¶
   White, 20, was the 15th overall pick in the draft, pitching 107 innings for the Tar Heels, and that doesn't count the postseason tournament and College World Series. ¶
   What does Shapiro like best about White? ¶
   ""It's his competitiveness,'' the GM said. ""He never backs down. He pitched in every role for North Carolina, and he never had trouble acceptiing the ball in the toughest situations. That's combined with his stuff and his size (6-foot-3, 200 pounds).'' ¶
   Shapiro described White's planned development path as a ""somewhat accelerated track.'' ¶
   Would the GM be surprised if White made his major-league debut in 2011? ¶
   ""I would not be surprised at that,'' he said. ""But 2010 would probably be a little soon.'' ¶
   The Tribe went beyond of the commissioner's recommended slotting figure to sign White. Last year's 15th selection cost the Blue Jays $1.7 million. Normally, the same pick could expect the slotting number to increase by 10 percent the following year. ¶
   Instead, Major League Baseball's advice was to pay the 15th choice about $1.5 million because of the country' poor economic conditions. However, teams increasingly are ignoring the slotting number, as did the Indians by giving White $725,000 more than the recommended amount. ¶
  Initially, a Tribe official said White's future probably would be in the bullpen. ¶
   ""That was just one statement,'' the GM said. "" We hadn't collectively made a decision. We'll develop him as a starter, which ensures that he will be the best he can be, and that we can maintain our options. We want to have the option of using him in either role, and this is the way to do that.'' ¶
   LEAVING THE DOOR OPEN -- When the Indians' roster can be expanded to 40 on Sept. 1, it will be no surprise if Matt LaPorta and Lou Marson are summoned to Cleveland from Columbus. ¶
   But what about a starting pitcher? ¶
   ""That's a possibility,'' manager Eric Wedge said Tuesday. ""We want to keep a close eye on David Huff, on the number innings he throws. Don't hold me to it, but I think we'd like to keep him to 160-170 innings total. Also, Jake Westbrook is out of the mix, so we won't be making room for him.'' ¶
   Huff has thrown 92 big-league innings and pitched another 391/3 at Triple-A.
   All of this adds up to the possibility that the Tribe's No. 1 pitching prospect, Hector Rondon, might be making his big-league debut in September. ¶
   Rondon began the year at Akron, compiling a 7-5 record and 2.75 ERA. Since being promoted the Columbus, he has posted a 4-2 record and 2.38 ERA. ¶
   STILL RECOVERING -- Trevor Crowe failed to start for the fourth consecutive game because of a sore oblique. ¶
   ""Trevor came out early and hit left-handed,'' Wedge said. ""He looked pretty good. He's better, but it's still there. If he improves by tomorrow, he'l be in there.'' ¶
  ANYTHING NEW? -- Andy Marte hasn't demonstrated that he is a substantially improved hitter since he was called up from Columbus July 28 with a gaudy Triple-A average of .327 with 18 homers and 66 RBI. ¶
   ""We're trying to give him every opportunity,'' Wedge said. ""He got himself going at Triple-A, so with everything that has happened here, he got another opportunity. We're trying to have him stay with an approach that will play for him. I think he's a little better. ¶
   Marte began Tuesday night's game with .194 average. ¶
   FARM FACTS -- Lou Marson singled twice to raise his average to .302, but Columbus dropped an 8-4 decision to Toledo. Chuck Lofgren (5-8, 4.68 ERA) gave up seven runs in six innings. *elip Donnie Webb had four hits, including a home run, and six RBI in Lake County's 19-2 win over Rome. John Allman had five hits and three RBI. Nick Hagadone, acquired in the Victor Martinez trade, pitched three scoreless innings, giving up one hit and striking out five. ¶

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