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Cleveland Indians

Wedge will play it by ear

By Sheldon Published: March 29, 2009

Manager Eric Wedge tried Sunday to explain how he would handle the Indians' logjam at first base and catcher among Victor Martinez, Kelly Shoppach and Ryan Garko.

In essence, Wedge will figure it out as he goes along.

There is no reasonable way to predetermine a rigid plan for using the three players. Martinez probably will catch more games than Shoppach, but Shoppach probably will catch more than he has in the past.

When Martinez isn't catching, it's unlikely that he'll be resting. More often than not, if Shoppach catches, Martinez will play first base, taking at-bats from Garko.

"There's an argument that Victor might play more than he ever has, because he'll get those reps at first base,'' Wedge said.

The only commitment Wedge has made is that Martinez will regularly catch Fausto Carmona and Shoppach will catch Cliff Lee.

"Victor will catch two or three days a week, and Shoppach will catch two or three days a week,'' the manager said. "I talked to Victor. He might catch 130 games or he might catch 90.''

All of this depends on who pitches for the opposing team, who is pitching for the Tribe, which of the three hitters are in a hot streak or a slump, whether they will face a lefty or righty and maybe other more esoteric factors.

One thing seems relatively certain: Garko will lose at-bats and playing time at first. On the other hand, he might gain playing time as an outfielder, a position he has learned in spring training.

Asked if he confidently could give Garko a start in the outfield, Wedge said, "Yeah, I would. I don't have the first 15 plays scripted like (former NFL coach) Bill Walsh, but I'd feel comfortable with Garko out there, either in left or right.''

BRAVURA HOMECOMING -- Mark DeRosa spent the past two seasons with the Cubs, so he was welcomed by his former teammates and fans Sunday at HoHoKam Park, as the Indians beat Chicago 7-5.

In addition to renewing acquaintances, DeRosa homered twice, doubled and hit a sacrifice fly to amass four RBI. His homer in the first inning came off a suspiciously grooved fastball by Ted Lilly, but DeRosa denied that he and Lilly had arranged something earlier.

"I played behind Lilly for two years, so I know what he does,'' DeRosa said. ""There was no deal.  was just hoping he wouldn't stick one in my ribs.''

DeRosa enjoyed returning to Mesa, but he said, ""It's the most nervous you'll be in a spring training game. I enjoyed seeing that (Cubs) uniform go out on the field and remembering the good times we had.''

Carmona worked six strong innings, giving up seven hits and three runs, walking only one and striking out two.

"Fausto had a very consistent day," Wedge said. ""He threw 70-some pitches in the game and 15 more in the bullpen.''

Masa Kobayashi struggled again, giving up a two run homer and two doubles in his inning on the mound.

"He was up a little today,'' Wedge said. ""But he was about as good as he can be last time out for two innings.''

Kerry Wood and Rafael Perez each threw one hitless inning.

STILL HURTIN' -- David Dellucci's tight left calf muscle showed no improvement when Wedge spoke to him Sunday morning.

"He's day to day right now,'' the manager said. ""He'll get treatment. I'll see what if anything he can do when we get back.''

It's too early to know whether Dellucci could end up on the disabled list.

"I dont know right now,'' Wedge said. ""But he felt similar today as he felt yesterday.''

NO DECISION YET -- The battle for the final berth in the bullpen will go on for at least one more day.

Wedge said he has not determined the winner, a contest that has come down to Vinnie Chulk and Zach Jackson.

"We had a meeting about it this morning,'' Wedge said. ""We'll have the answer in the next couple of days. We'll talk it over again tonight.''

MARCHING ONWARD -- The Indians return to Goodyear today to play the Padres at a special start time of 7 p.m. ET. The reason: The game will be televised by SportsTime Ohio.

Carl Pavano will start for the Tribe with Joe Smith, Rafael Betancourt and Matt Herges working out of the bullpen. ¶

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