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Cleveland Indians

Two who didn't make it

By Sheldon Published: September 8, 2009

What about players who made an impact for Columbus and didn't receive a September call-up by the Indians?

The Tribe summoned infielder Niuman Romero to Cleveland Tuesday, presumably as the last September call-up.

Romero, 24, played in 81 games for the Clippers and batted .254 with one home run and 27 RBI. He earned a promotion to Triple-A after beginning the season at Akron and batting .209 in 38 games.

What is his appeal to the Indians? Romero can play every position in the infield, but he mostly played shortstop (58 games) for Columbus. He also played eight games apiece at second and third and seven games at first.

‘‘He's a good kid, very versatile,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ‘‘He played all the infield spots, and handled himself well. We've been pushing Asdrubal (Cabrera), Luis (Valbuena), Jamey Carroll and even Jhonny Peralta pretty hard, so Romero can give them a day now and then.''

As far as Wedge can determine so far, Romero doesn't have a best position.

‘‘I talked to Torey (Columbus manager Torey Lovullo),'' Wede said, ‘‘and he feels he handles things well everywhere.''

Romero's 2009 deflated batting average might be a consequence of having to adjust to two levels of the minors in the same season. Last year at Kinston, Romero batted .296 at Kinston (fourth in the league) and was named to the Carolina League's regular and postseason all-star teams.

Two other Clippers had excellent seasons but were not invited to Cleveland.

It's clear why Hector Rondon, perhaps the Tribe's brightest pitching prospect at Double-A or Triple-A, wasn't asked to begin his big-league career this month: the club already has a six-man rotation.

Moreover, after starting the season with a bang at Akron (7-5, 2.75 ERA), he made only 12 Triple-A starts, posting a 4-5 record and 4.00 earned-run average.

‘‘He's had a great developmental year,'' Wedge said. ‘‘But we don't have starts to give him.''

But what about Jordan Brown, who won the International League batting title with a .336 average and also hit 15 home runs with 67 RBI in 417 at-bats?

‘‘This has happened before,'' Wedge said. ‘‘It's the business of baseball. It's not just stat oriented. We're not going to bring guys here when we we have no at-bats for them. We have guys who need to play. That's just where we are.''

Wedge also said there was another obstacle to bringing up Brown.

‘‘He had a great year, but it would be tough to find a position for him, and Travis Hafner is our DH now and moving forward,'' the manager said. ‘‘So it's a tough fit for us.''

Brown most often played in the outfield for Columbus but also logged time at first base.

SMITH HURTING -- Joe Smith hasn't pitched since Aug. 29 because of a minor injury to his left knee. However, he is expected to return to the bullpen before the season ends.

‘‘He tweaked his knee a little bit,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ‘‘I think he did it walking down the stairs. He's starting to do some throwing, and we expect him back.''

Smith was starting to work his way toward the back end of the bullpen when he hurt himself.

‘‘He's a loss for us,'' Wedge said. ‘‘He was starting to play an important role for late in games.''

MAKING THEM PAY -- Carlos Carrasco picked off two runners (technically, caught stealing, because they made an initial move toward second) in the opening two innings of Game 1.

‘‘I saw them getting too far from the bag,'' he said. ‘‘And Luis (Rivera) gave me the sign both times to throw over.''

Carrasco and first base coach Rivera talked before the game and the pitcher was given the sign to watch for.

DOUBLEHEADER BLUES -- Probably not many people over the age of 12 enjoy doubleheaders. That includes Wedge.

‘‘I don't think anybody is crazy about doubleheaders,'' he said before the Indians and Rangers played two. ‘‘Back in the day, doubleheaders were part of each week. At least this (twi-nighter) is better than a day-night doubleheader. Those are ridiculously long.''

LAKE COUNTY RE-UPS -- The Indians have signed a new player development contract with Lake County that will keep the Captains as a Tribe Class A affiliate through the 2014 season.

Beginning next year, Lake County will move to the Midwest League after spending seven years in the South Atlantic League.

FARM FACTS -- Hector Rondon (4-5, 4.00 ERA) ended his season by giving up three runs and eight hits in 72/3 innings, as Columbus dropped a 3-0 decision to Toledo. *elip Nick Hagadone, one of the principals in the Victor Martinez trade, gave up one run and three hits in his last appearance of the season, as Kinston fell 9-4 to Potomac. *elip Alexander Morales (1-0, 1.50 ERA) gave up one run and five hits in six innnings, as Lake County defeated Hagerstown 4-2.

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