Notes: Delving into Cabrera decision
In contention, Indians designate right-hander for assigment
CLEVELAND -- If the Indians weren't in a position to contend, they'd probably still be fiddling with Fernando Cabrera right now.But when manager Eric Wedge lost confidence in the hard-throwing right-hander in meaningful situations, the path was set for Cabrera's designation, which officially came Wednesday. The Indians will have 10 days to trade Cabrera or outright him to the Minor Leagues. He was replaced on the active roster by Aaron Fultz, who was activated off the 15-day disabled list. "This is as much to do with the team being in the pennant race as anything," pitching coach Carl Willis said. "That made it more difficult." Finding spots to use Cabrera the past two months became difficult for Wedge. The Indians held onto him because he was out of Minor League options and, thus, must be exposed to waivers to be sent down and because of his raw, closer-type stuff. Command issues were the 25-year-old Cabrera's downfall, and those are issues that will either be sorted out with a new team or at Triple-A Buffalo. "We really did, and still do, like the arm and respect the person," Willis said. "Every so often, we'd see him start to find it. But when we'd try to use him in a more meaningful situation, he wasn't able to repeat the same stuff, control and command." Cabrera put up a 1-2 record and 5.61 ERA in 24 appearances this season. His eventual designation was all but sealed when he gave up four earned runs and two inherited runs in one-third of an inning against the White Sox on July 16. As was the case with former No. 1 Draft pick Jeremy Guthrie, who now is a key member of the Orioles' rotation, the Indians' timetable didn't mesh with that of Cabrera. "We stuck with him a long period of time," Wedge said of Cabrera. "He had ample opportunities. He wasn't able to be as consistent as we needed." Fultz fine: The return of Fultz gives the Indians three left-handers in a bullpen that already included setup man Rafael Perez and long man Jason Stanford. "That just gives Wedgie more options," Fultz said. "He can match up in the sixth or seventh and doesn't have to wait until the seventh or eighth. He can match up two or three times a game, so that's definitely a plus." Fultz, who suffered a rib cage strain during his June 22 outing in Washington, made a pair of rehab appearances this week, pitching a scoreless inning at Double-A Akron on Sunday and another at Class A Lake County on Tuesday. He was available out of the bullpen for Wednesday night's game against the Rangers. Once Fultz, who was 3-1 with a 1.71 ERA in 32 outings before going on the DL, gets back in the groove, Wedge sees him as another late-inning setup option, along with Perez and right-hander Rafael Betancourt. "We play so many close games," Wedge said. "To have another veteran arm back there should help out." Here's the question: Manny Ramirez's 481-foot home run off Cliff Lee last week was the third-longest homer in Jacobs Field history. Can you name the longest? RBI kings: The "RBI Baseball" tournament going on in the Indians' clubhouse involves the 1980s-era video game of the same name. But the real RBI tournament also has a Cleveland connection. When RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) holds its senior boys division World Series in Compton, Calif., on Aug. 7-12, the Cleveland team will be participating as the winner of the Mid-Atlantic regional. The Indians honored the local team, which is made up of 16-19-year-olds, before Wednesday's game. The players also got to shag fly balls during the Tribe's batting practice. One of the coaches of the Cleveland team is Chuck Smith, an area native who participated in RBI as a lad and went on to be a starting pitcher for the Marlins from 1998-2000. "The league has really grown," Smith said of RBI. "There's a lot more talent here now. We might seem some of these kids make a run at the big leagues someday." The team's travel to Compton is covered by Cleveland Indians Charities and the Cleveland Baseball Federation. Tribe tidbits: Travis Hafner, batting just .132 (5-for-38) over the last nine games, was moved down to the No. 5 spot of Wedge's lineup Wednesday. Jhonny Peralta batted third and Ryan Garko fourth, with Victor Martinez getting the day off as Kelly Shoppach assumed his regular role of catching Paul Byrd. ... Baseball America will come out with its annual "Best Tools" issue Aug. 13. In it, Hafner is deemed to have the best strike-zone judgment in the Majors, while Byrd is said to have the best control. ... Despite an 8-10 record since the break, the Indians hadn't lost any ground in the standings to the Tigers, entering Wednesday's action. They remained one game back. Down on the farm: Lee, optioned to Buffalo last week, made his Triple-A debut Tuesday, giving up two runs on four hits with four walks and eight strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings of a 4-3 loss at Syracuse. "We're not looking for [statistical] results right away," Wedge said. "Ultimately, we're looking for his stuff to play up here." ... Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera is 5-for-10 in two games since his promotion from Double-A Akron to Buffalo. ... Right-hander Jake Dittler gave up just four hits in seven scoreless innings as Akron beat Connecticut, 2-0. ... Right-hander Sung-Wei Tseng gave up just three hits in five shutout innings to lead Class A Kinston to a 2-0 win over Myrtle Beach. ... No. 1 Draft pick Beau Mills drew five walks in Class A Lake County's 11-9, 14-inning loss to Greenville. And the answer is: Jim Thome hit the longest homer in the ballpark's history when he socked a 511-foot blast to center field on July 3, 1999, against Don Wengert of the Royals. Mark McGwire's 1997 shot off Orel Hershiser (measured at 485 feet) might have gone farther, had it not been interrupted by the Budweiser sign below the video scoreboard in left field. On deck: The Indians wrap up their three-game series with the Rangers and their 10-game homestand with Thursday's 12:05 p.m. ET game at Jacobs Field. Right-hander Jake Westbrook (1-6, 5.85 ERA) will oppose righty Jamey Wright (3-3, 4.57 ERA).
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.