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Cleveland Indians

Young lions making impact

By Sheldon Published: March 2, 2009

It's like the Indians are operating their own Futures Game.

In the lineup against the Texas Rangers on Monday were Michael Brantley, Beau Mills, Matt LaPorta, Wes Hodges and Chris Gimenez, minor-leaguers who are expected to make an impact on the major-league team some day.

Mills doubled, tripled and drove in a run, Hodges had an opposite field single, Gimenez doubled and singled, and Brantley had a hit.

``He's very mature for his age,'' Indians manager Eric Wedge said of Mills. ``He's got a pretty good idea of what he has to do to be successful.''

Hodges impressed the manager with his patience and discipline in not trying to pull pitches.

``For a young hitter with some power, he stays in the middle of the field as well as anyone I've seen,'' Wedge said.

LaPorta put his body in harm's way when he dived over the low fence in right to snag a foul ball.

Converted catcher Carlos Santana entered the game in the sixth inning and threw out a runner trying to steal second in the ninth on a sensational throw.

``He has a great arm and put the throw right on the bag,'' Wedge said. ``Santana is a great looking player. He's a good all-around player and catcher. He just needs more experience, more repetitions.''

The Tribe's young studs will stick around big-league camp longer than usual, because several players have left for the World Baseball Classic and because spring training is one week longer.

PITCHING WOES -- After an efficient outing in his first appearance of the spring, Rafael Betancourt gave up three runs, three hits and a walk in one inning, as the Rangers defeated the Tribe 8-7.

``He was just up a little bit,'' Wedge said.

Aaron Laffey started and allowed four runs and six hits in two innings. Laffey is among a group of five pitchers -- including Jeremy Sowers, David Huff, Scott Lewis and Zach Jackson -- who are competing for the fifth spot in the rotation.

``It's going to take awhile before we figure out which way we're leaning,'' Wedge said. ``And it's not just the fifth starter. It goes beyond that, because we're going to need for than five guys.''

INJURY UPDATES -- Grady Sizemore (groin) could be in the lineup in two days as the designated hitter. ... David Dellucci (stiches in a thumb) and Travis Hafner (shoulder surgery) might make their spring debuts on Friday. Both faced Cliff Lee in a simulated game Monday. Lee's first game appearance has been delayed, because Wedge does not want him pitching more innings than necessary in this extended spring. He probably will pitch Friday.

BIG HITS -- Jordan Brown has two hits in five spring at-bats: a triple and a two-run homer in the ninth Monday to cut the deficit to one run.

WHO CARES? -- Neither the umpires nor the Tribe voiced an objection, leading to the conclusion that nobody realized that the Rangers batted out of order in the sixth inning.

Was it an advantage for the Rangers? Juan Salas retired the side in order.

``Spring training, you don't pay much attention to that,'' said Wedge, who didn't notice the gaffe.

MARCHING ONWARD -- The Indians travel to Surprise to play the Kansas City Royals this afternoon. Anthony Reyes will make his first spring start against Zach Greinke. Following Reyes will be David Huff, Kirk Saarloos, Jack Cassel, Edward Mujica, Tony Sipp, Rich Rundles and Vinny Chulk.

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