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Cleveland Indians

Ups and downs of a rookie

By Sheldon Published: June 14, 2009

CLEVELAND: Trevor Crowe has yet to establish himself in the big leagues, but he knows the joys and disappointments inherent in the learning process.

He earned a place on the roster in spring training but was back in Triple-A by May 2, when the Indians optioned him to Columbus.

"It was very exciting to break with the team,'' Crowe said. "But honestly, I wasn't playing very well when they sent me down. I had nothing to complain about. I had to go down there and clean up my swing.''

Most players discover that their first trip to the big leagues is filled with equal parts delight and dread. One thing that's missing from the experience is a comfort level.

"I just wasn't playing like myself,'' Crowe said. "I was obviously disappointed to hit .180. They gave me a great opportunity, and I didn't take advantage of it.

"You can't make an impact in every game. In baseball, you have to get in the flow. It's a difficult game if you don't let it come to you.''

In other words, a player can't force the action; he can't hit a five-run homer or steal second, third and home in one mad dash around the bases.''

In his first month with the Tribe, Crowe appeared in 12 games and batted .182 in 33 at-bats. He stayed with the Clippers long enough to play 21 games and bat .230 and was recalled to Cleveland on May 26.

Since then, Crowe has played in 14 games and batted .167, but the numbers are almost irrelevant, because Crowe has not received consistent playing time. The objective of manager Eric Wedge is to bolster the outfield defense late in games and use Crowe to run the bases, only occasionally giving him a start.

The second time around for a rookie usually is noticeably different from his initial exposure to the big leagues.

"They definitely are not as wide eyed,'' Wedge said. "They're more comfortable in a big-league uniform. If they can get as comfortable up here as they were at a lower level, that's half the battle.''

Feeling good about being in the majors is only part of the equation.

"You want to be confident, but you also have to be accountable,'' Wedge said. "That's the part that can get you into trouble.''

At the moment, Crowe has the job security of a Wall Street banker, but he tries not to notice.

"It takes so much energy to play,'' he said. ""If I waste my energy trying to be the GM, I can't imagine how hard it would be to play.''

PLAN REMAINS INTACT -- The injury to Asdrubal Cabrera has thrown up a temporary detour in the plan to turn Jhonny Peralta into a full-time third baseman.

Peralta has shuttled between third and short since Cabrera went down with a strained AC joint, with Luis Valbuena moving between second and short.

As long ago as last year, when the move came up for discussion, Peralta expressed a desire to remain at short if he could.

"I've had multiple conversations with him,'' Wedge said. ""I told him he would be playing more third base and that, "I think that's where you're going to be in the future.'' He has a chance to be a pretty good third baseman.''

Wedge knew of Peralta's preference, but the team's needs superseded his personal choice.

"I think he'd rather be at short, but this is about what makes the club better,'' the manager said. ""And the more he's at third, the more comfortable he will be.''

Wedge didn't take for granted that Peralta would accept the change.

"I but I knew he'd be OK after his first game,'' the manager said.

THE PRIORITY -- Chris Gimenez has been training as an all-purpose player, and the Indians want to keep him in that role.

But is there one position that Wedge wants him to emphasize?

"If I have a preference, it would be catcher,'' the manager said. ""But we still want him to play first, left and right. He was signed as a third baseman, so he probably could play there, too.''

STILL THINKING -- Wedge still hasn't decided how much or how little he will use Toma Ohka as a starter the rest of the month.

"We haven't really discussed it yet,'' he said. "But he obviously did a great job yesterday.''

Ohka limited the Cardinals to two runs in seven innings on Saturday.

FARM FACTS -- Matt LaPorta hit his eighth homer of the season in Columbus' 7-2 loss to Louisville... Delvi Cid doubled, singled and drove in four runs, but Lake County lost to Lakewood 9-7.

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