Can Scott Barnes be the second novice Indians reliever this season to have a chance to leave his minor-league career behind?
Nick Hagadone already has shown enough promise and stability to make it difficult to send him back to Triple-A, even after Rafael Perez is activated from the disabled list, presumably near the end of this month.
Barnes was called up Wednesday to return the bullpen back to full strength, and manager Manny Acta immediately got him into the game against the Kansas City Royals.
Shaky as he was, Barnes managed to endure, pitching a scoreless sixth inning, despite walking two and hitting a batter. When he needed to make a pitch, with the bases loaded and two outs, Barnes induced Jeff Francoeur to lift a foul pop to the catcher.
“He was probably a little nervous,” Acta said. “But it was good that we got him in there, two runs down and at home. He got in trouble, but he worked himself out of it.”
Barnes was a starter until a month ago, when he was sent to the bullpen after making three starts for the Clippers and posting an earned-run average of over 5.00. After he was converted to a reliever, Barnes pitched eight times and compiled a 2.19 and a batting average against of .122.
It’s doubtful that Barnes would have chosen to leave a career as a starter behind, but Acta said the organization has decided that the bullpen is where Barnes belongs.
“I’m open to whatever they need me to do,” said Barnes with proper political correctness.
It’s far too early to tell whether Barnes is ready to stick in the big leagues. But he certainly has assets. Barnes is left-handed, but he is not a soft-throwing lefty. In his debut Wednesday, he was consistently throwing 92-mile-per-hour fastballs and was considered a prospect when he came over from the San Francisco Giants in the Ryan Garko trade in 2009.
Barnes didn’t have much time to notify his friends and family of his promotion, but he did call his parents, brother and grandmother with the good news.
“They couldn’t get here [from Springfield, Mass.] right away,” he said. “But they’ll be here for the weekend. Well, I don’t know for sure about my grandmother; she’s getting up there.”
In a different way, so is Barnes.
Travis Hafner underwent knee surgery (a right medial menisectomy) at the Cleveland Clinic to eliminate the irritation in his cartilage. The 30-minute operation was performed by Drs. Rick Parker and Mark Schickendantz.
The Tribe’s designated hitter is expected to be out of the lineup from four to six weeks.
Ubaldo Jimenez’s next outing should be Friday or Saturday, but the struggling starter’s next appearance will be delayed until Tuesday.
“We want to give him more time to work on the side,” Acta said. “He cramped up in Chicago; every day he feels better and this gives him more opportunity to do that.”
The Indians put together a string of 12 consecutive stolen bases before the streak ended in the fifth inning Wednesday.
The Tribe ranks third in the American League, and Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley and Shin-Soo Choo are in the top 10 individually.
Marson still hurting
Lou Marson missed his third game Wednesday after being hit in the mouth with a pitch on Sunday. After taking three stitches to close a gash in the corner of his mouth, it was thought that Marson would return, but he still had problems.
Marson was scheduled to visit a doctor today and undergo a laser treatment to get rid of loose skin inside his mouth around the wound and to remove the stitches. Acta thought he could play tonight.
Going into Wednesday’s start, right-handed batters were hitting .198 against Jeanmar Gomez. But the Royals’ righties were 5-for-10 against him. … Luke Carlin stole a base for the first time in the big leagues Wednesday. … Shin-Soo Choo is batting .306 since being shifted to the leadoff spot 16 games ago.
Matt LaPorta had two hits, including his 14th home run of the season, in Columbus’ 3-2 loss to Buffalo in Class AAA. David Huff gave up two runs and three hits in eight innings. … Jesus Aguilar doubled, singled and drove in a run in Carolina’s 5-3 win over Wilmington in Class A. Giovanny Urshela had two hits and two RBI. Francisco Jimenez (5-2, 3.65 ERA) gave up one run in six innings. … Joseph Colon (5-5, 2.66 ERA) gave up one run and seven hits in six innings, but Lake County lost 1-0 to West Michigan in Class A.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.