KANSAS CITY, MO: One of the worst parts of a manager’s job at any level in baseball is telling a player he’s being let go.
But it’s even worse when that player is a respected veteran who has a history of success.
That’s the dilemma Indians manager Manny Acta faced Wednesday night when he called right-handed pitcher Derek Lowe into his office after the team’s fifth consecutive loss to inform him that he was being designated for assignment to make room for Thursday’s starter, rookie Corey Kluber.
“It’s really hard to do,” Acta said. “It’s really hard to break the news to everybody, but especially when it’s a guy who’s had such a good career at the major-league level. It’s something I’ve always dreaded having to do.”
After starting the season with a 6-1 record, Lowe, 39, struggled mightily the past two months. In his last 13 starts, he was 2-8 with an 8.28 ERA.
“He was so good the first two months of the season,” Acta said. “I don’t know where we’d be without him. He basically gave enough time to Justin [Masterson] and Ubaldo [Jimenez] to get it back together. But [Lowe] was just two different guys. His walk-to-strikeout ratio pretty much doubled the last two months and he just couldn’t get back into that groove again.”
The Indians have 10 days to trade, release or get Lowe through waivers.
Lowe’s next start was scheduled for Sunday in Detroit. Acta said he wasn’t sure who would fill in.
Lowe’s replacement will likely be a choice of right-hander Jeanmar Gomez (4-2, 3.54 ERA), or left-handers David Huff (5-5, 5.15 ERA) and Chris Seddon (11-5, 3.44 ERA), all at Triple-A Columbus.
With Roberto Hernandez eligible to return to the Indians on Aug. 11, the Tribe will only need a fill-in for Lowe for two starts, assuming Hernandez is activated right away.
REHAB UPDATES — Left-hander Rafael Perez (strained lat) threw from 90 feet Wednesday.
“He felt good, so we’re going to ramp him up again,” Acta said. “It’s not going to be a lengthy [buildup] since we just shut him down for a few days because he was a little bit sore.”
Center fielder Grady Sizemore, who turned 30 Thursday, might start running when the Indians return home Monday. Sizemore continues to rehab a knee injury and is not traveling with the team. Acta said there hasn’t been any talk of shutting Sizemore down, despite there being just two months of the season left.
CONSIDERING OTHER OPTIONS — With a five-game losing streak pushing the Indians from 3½ games to 7½ games behind in the Central Division, Acta admitted it was time to start considering some internal options.
“At some point, we’re going to have to give some of those kids an opportunity,” Acta said. “It’s not about giving up or going young or anything like that. Hey, we’re trying to make us better.”
— Stephanie Storm