Notes: Cora, Hernandez cover all bases
Former Dodgers give Wedge flexibility in the field
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- What can manager Eric Wedge say, except that he's gotten what he'd hoped for in veterans Alex Cora and Jose Hernandez.
Coming into Spring Training, Wedge had said the two former Dodgers would give him more flexibility and keep the starting position players from wearing down. Cora and Hernandez have shown Wedge the ability to handle whatever situation he's thrown at them.
"They've both played very well this spring," Wedge said. "They've moved around all over the place, and they're 'pros' in every sense of the word. You can't say enough about them."
No, you can't. Between Cora and Hernandez, the two men have every position covered beside pitcher and catcher.
The 29-year-old Cora can play short and second, and he can do an adequate job at both positions. Hernandez, the older of the two men at 35, can play everywhere in the infield and outfield.
Both provide upgrades over the bench players Wedge had at his disposal the past two seasons, and both have shown the ability to hit the ball, a skill lacking in most of the role players the Indians used in 2003-04.
"And they complement each other as well -- I mean, from the right side and from the left side," Wedge said. "Both have put up pretty good at-bats all spring."
Here's the question: Only one catcher in Major League history has caught two perfect games. Can you name this former Indians player? (See answer below.)
Quotable: "With time, I'm looking to get a lot of my stuff back. I'll be in a good situation, because I can still cover first base, and I can still field groundballs. I can still do my job. I may not be able to look good doing it, but I've never been very pretty about doing my job." -- Reliever Paul Shuey, who's in camp trying to win a job in the Indians' bullpen
Did you know? Ronnie Belliard reached career highs in hits (169), doubles (48) and RBIs (70) last season. Belliard, an American League All-Star, finished second in the league in doubles, which represented the highest total for an Indians player since Albert Belle's 52 doubles in 1995.
Tribe tidbits: Only scattered single tickets remain for the home opener April 11 against the White Sox. Standing-room tickets, though, are still available for $20 each. Fans can buy tickets to the opener and to the other 80 games at The Jake through the Internet at www.indians.com, at the Jacobs Field box office, at the seven Cleveland Indians Team Shops in Northeast Ohio and through the Ticketmaster.com phone center (1-866-48-TRIBE). ... The Indians are leading all American League teams in slugging percentage (.507), home runs (37) and runs scored (158) this spring. They are third in batting average (.297) and third in doubles (55). Their offense is averaging 6.6 runs a game. In the Grapefruit League last spring, the Tribe hit 22 homers and scored 185 runs (5.78 per game) in 32 exhibition games. ... Third baseman Matt Whitney continues on the slow road back from a broken leg, which he sustained during Spring Training in 2003. He has not been cleared to play in games in camp, though he has been hitting. Whitney would likely remain in Winter Haven for extended Spring Training.
It's a strike! The Indians will hold their fourth annual First Pitch Luncheon on April 13 in the Convocation Center on the Cleveland State University campus. The event will be held in conjunction with Continental Airlines, one of the team's corporate partners. The First Pitch Luncheon will give Indians fans the only opportunity all season to see and meet the Indians players. It will also feature an autograph session with players as well as a chance to meet the newest members of the team. Tickets can be obtained by calling (216) 420-HITS or by logging on to www.indians.com for more information.
On this date: In 1973, the Tribe traded infielder/outfielder Tommy McCraw and minor leaguer Bob Marcano to the Angels for infielder Leo Cardenas.
Here's the answer: Ron Hassey caught the perfect games of right-hander Len Barker with the Indians in 1981 and right-hander Dennis Martinez with the Expos in 1991. Martinez would later pitch for the Tribe.
Weather report: Monday's forecasts call for thundershowers in the morning. By the afternoon, the showers will have moved through the area and sunny skies will appear. The temperature takes a dip, though. The high should be around 72 degrees with considerably less humidity.
On deck: The Indians play the Braves on Monday afternoon in the second-to-last game at Chain of Lakes Park this spring. Cliff Lee will start against the Braves, and he will face left-hander Mike Hampton. Relievers Bob Wickman, David Riske and Arthur Rhodes are also scheduled to pitch against Atlanta. Fox Sports Net Ohio will televise the game at 1 p.m. ET.
Justice B. Hill is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.