Notes: Easing the 'pen's workload
Tribe has surplus of lefties; Santana has Peralta's number
MINNEAPOLIS -- Given how dominant Rafael Betancourt has been this season, it would be understandable for manager Eric Wedge to feel tempted to use the right-handed reliever every night.Of course, that's not possible for any reliever, and especially not one with the extensive injury history Betancourt has. The Indians, then, have a bit of a conundrum, where the last two months of the season are concerned. Betancourt has been their most valuable setup man, but Wedge will have to be especially careful not to overwork him during the playoff chase. "We have to pick our spots and be aware of his workload," Wedge said. "That's why we need to continue to look for other guys to step up." The Tribe's search for other arms to supplement Betancourt, Rafael Perez and closer Joe Borowski in the trade market before the non-waiver deadline came up empty, which could put added pressure on those three pitchers down the stretch. Betancourt has made 45 appearances this season, posting a 1.39 ERA along the way. With 51 2/3 innings already under his belt, he is on pace to work more innings this season than in any other in his professional career. His previous high was 67 2/3 innings in the 2005 season. Having missed all of 2002 after elbow surgery and battling right arm fatigue in '04, a right shoulder strain in '05 and a strained back in '06, Betancourt made staying healthy his No. 1 priority this season. "I have a routine I have to go through every day," he said. "It's not like I show up, get dressed and go outside. During the offseason, I started a different workout, especially for my back and shoulders. I don't use heavy weights, but I do more repetitions." Whatever Betancourt has been doing must be working, because his .172 average against is the fifth-lowest in the American League, his ERA is the third-best among AL relievers, he's allowed just 11.5 percent of inherited runners to score, and he's second in the league in holds, with 22. See ya, Stanny: The fact that Jason Stanford pitches with his left arm is what might make him especially attractive to other clubs on the waiver wire. Yet it was a fact that made him expendable in the Indians' system. Wedge said the reason Stanford was designated for assignment to make room for Aaron Laffey's promotion from Triple-A Buffalo came down to mathematics. "We've got [Aaron] Fultz back, so we've got two lefties [Fultz and Perez] back there," Wedge said. "And we've got Laffey, Cliff Lee and Jeremy Sowers, [all lefties], for starting depth." Wedge wants to see how young, right-handed relievers Ed Mujica, Jensen Lewis and Tom Mastny continue to progress in the bullpen. Stanford, who was out of Minor League options, was the long man and, in the end, the odd man out. "He grew up in this organization," Wedge said of Stanford. "He's had his ups and downs, but he's a great competitor. We just didn't see additional opportunities here." Oh no, not you again: Jhonny Peralta knows when he's beat. He's not ashamed to admit Johan Santana has his number. "Everybody has one pitcher like that," Peralta said. "There's nothing I can do off him. It's hard to get contact." On Friday night, it was downright impossible. Peralta went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts against Santana. He didn't even so much as foul off a single pitch. That brought Peralta's career average against Santana down to .120 (3-for-25) with 19 strikeouts. "It's not only with me," Peralta said. "We have a lot of guys [who struggle against Santana]. But with me, it's more than everybody." Making history: While Peralta has had trouble with Santana, he can at least take comfort in being part of the first team to beat the two-time Cy Young Award winner three times in a single season. The Indians achieved that feat Friday night. They also became the first team to beat Santana twice in the Metrodome in the same season. Santana is 0-3 with a 3.67 ERA in four starts against the Tribe in '07. Wedge was asked if seeing Santana so often works in his club's favor. "I can't say who has the edge there," Wedge said. "On top of his ability, he's very smart. He doesn't do the same thing every time." Hijinks: Trot Nixon, ever the prankster, hurriedly assembled a chalk body outline-type figure out of masking tape in a storage area adjacent to the visitor's dugout at the Metrodome before Saturday's game. The figure was made to commemorate the spot where team strength and conditioning coach Tim Maxey cracked his head open during Friday night's game. Maxey apparently hit his head on a crossbeam in the little cubby hole and opted not to have stitches. Minutes after Nixon's work was done, the Indians were sitting in the dugout, preparing to stretch, when a fan seated behind the dugout dangled a baseball and a pen on a fishing line, hoping to snag an autograph. One of the Tribe's players obliged, though the fan couldn't have been happy with the result. The ball was signed, "Barry Bonds 754." Down on the farm: Buffalo dropped both ends of a doubleheader against Scranton on Friday. Right-hander Matt Miller gave up three runs in two-thirds of an inning of relief for the 7-6 loss in Game 1, and right-hander Bubbie Buzachero gave up a run in 1 2/3 innings of relief for the 2-1 loss in the nightcap. ... Robert Brownlie surrendered five runs on seven hits over six innings in Double-A Akron's 5-1 loss to New Britain. ... Right-hander Jim Deters allowed just a run on two hits over seven innings in Class A Kinston's 7-2 victory against Lynchburg. ... Jeanmar Gomez was roughed up for eight runs on eight hits in 5 1/3 innings to take the loss, as Class A Lake County fell, 13-1, to Augusta. On deck: The Indians continue their four-game set with the Twins at 2:10 p.m. ET on Sunday at the Metrodome. Right-hander Fausto Carmona (13-5, 3.27) gets the start opposite right-hander Scott Baker (5-4, 4.88).
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.