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Cleveland Indians

Wedge shuffles his defense

By Sheldon Published: May 15, 2009

   ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.: For manager Eric Wedge, it comes down to this: ""It was just one game, but if he can do it once, he can do it twice.'' [ep
   This might not be the beginning of a permanent change in the Indians' defensive alignment, but don't bet against it. [ep
   Wedge was talking about Jhonny Peralta's 2009 debut as a third baseman Thursday night. Peralta made all the plays with aplomb, handling four routine ground balls plus a pop fly in addition to starting a double play and charging toward the plate to field a bunt and throw out the runner like a veteran. [ep
  Peralta is a veteran, a veteran shortstop. Wedge wants the flexibility to play Peralta at third, but why? [ep
   ""I thought Jhonny did a good job over there last night,'' the manager said. ""We'll continue to move people around. I'm not saying it will be an everyday thing, but he'll play there more. This is something I wanted to do to make us quicker and more consistent up the middle.'' [ep
   One thing Peralta lacks as a shortstop is range. When he moves to third, Asdrubal Cabrera will play short and reach more balls than Peralta. Cabrera usually plays second but came up as a shortstop. [ep
   ""Nothing is set in stone,'' Wedge said. ""But if Asdrubal moves to short, (Luis) Valbuena and (Jamey) Carroll will be at second.'' [ep
   All of this means that Ryan Garko will get less time at first, because third baseman Mark DeRosa will be moved to first in Wedge's new defensive scheme. [ep
  He won't be the only one. When Kelly Shoppach takes over behind the plate, Victor Martinez will move to first and DeRosa probably will play the outfield rather than sit on the bench. [ep
   Garko won't be left entirely out of the picture, at least for now. He is likely to log time at designated hitter until Travis Hafner returns from a rehabilitation assignment at Columbus. Hafner has been on the disabled list with a sore shoulder. [ep
   Inasmuch as the initial game under Wedge's new system went on without a hitch, the manager tried it again Friday night with Peralta at third, Cabrera at short, Carroll at second, DeRosa at first and Garko at DH. [ep
   GOING DEEP -- Before the Indians took batting practice Friday afternoon, a football game broke out at Tropicana Field. [ep
   It was bullpen catcher Dave Wallace and Mark DeRosa delivering 50-yard passes to receiver Jensen Lewis. Wallace was a collegiate quarterback at Vanderbilt, and DeRosa took snaps at Penn. [ep
   But where did the football come from? David Dellucci packed it with his gear. [ep
   ""I only took it to keep things loose in the clubhouse,'' said Dellucci, a defensive back in high school. [ep
   STILL A MYSTERY -- Manager Eric Wedge refused to divulge the identity of Sunday's starter, though it appears that David Huff (5-1, 4.35 ERA) will get the call. [ep
   ""We've got it narrowed down to a couple of guys,'' he said. ""But I'm not announcing anything yet.' [ep
    It became necessary to find another starter when Jeremy Sowers was optioned back to Columbus after making two starts and giving up 12 runs in nine innings. [ep
   RUN MATT, RUN -- Matt LaPorta stole his first big-league base in the sixth inning of the Tribe's 11-7 win Thursday night. [ep
   LaPorta has been considered a prime prospect because of his power rather than his speed. [ep
   ""No, he did not go on his own,'' Wedge said. ""Some guys are on their own, but he isn't. But coming out of spring training, I could see he's a pretty good baserunner.'' [ep
   FARM FACTS -- Chris Gimenez hit his third homer of the year and singled, driving in one run, as Columbus beat Lehigh Valley 5-4. George Lombard had three hits and one RBI. Rafael Perez threws a hitless inning. *elip Paolo Espino (0-1, 0.90 ERA) gave up two runs (one earned) and three hits in five innings, but Kinston lost 4-3 to Wilmington. Lonnie Chisenhall, John Drennen and Roman Pena each had two hits. *elip Lake County's T.J. McFarland was named South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week for making two starts and allowing one run and seven hits in 11 innings.

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