Laffey moved to 'pen in shake-up
Shapiro visits team in Boston as moves made to right ship
BOSTON -- The problem -- an ineffective bullpen -- may be easy to identify. The solution, not quite as easy.
"I think what's most troubling is that the inconsistency in the bullpen continues to be an issue," said Indians general manager Mark Shapiro, in the visitors' dugout before Wednesday's game at Fenway Park. "We've got to take a deep look at it and be thorough in how we examine it. We got to examine how we construct it, pick our players, we got to examine our performances, our coaching, everything. We've spent time doing that already, but we need to continue to do it and we need to do it more in depth."
After watching his bullpen blow Tuesday's lead in Toronto, surrendering seven runs in the seventh inning on the way to 10-6 loss, Shapiro joined the team in Boston. Although it was a scheduled trip and not a reaction to his team's play of late, Shapiro announced a series of moves intended to shore up the shaky 'pen.
Left-hander Aaron Laffey, Thursday's scheduled starter, was moved into the bullpen before Wednesday's game against the Red Sox, left-hander Rafael Perez was sent to Triple-A Columbus and left-hander Jeremy Sowers will be recalled from Columbus to start Thursday's game in Boston.
"We still respect everything every guy has done here and we're still going to be always cognizant of that," Shapiro said. "But we've reached a point now where we're going to make the moves that help us right our bullpen. And feelings are not going to get in the way of that. We're not going to look to disrespect anybody but we're going to look to get this thing turned around as quickly as we can.
"We've always had a set way of doing things here and tried to respect. But now I think we've got to have a little greater sense of urgency where those things are not going to be as important."
Shapiro said he is looking to rectify by internal and external means the inconsistencies -- both short-term and long-term -- that have plagued the bullpen, but "there are not natural changes waiting for us in Triple-A.
"So, we're going to have to try and be creative," he said. "We're going to have to look at things from top to bottom in our system and look for solutions. Those are conversations we're having right now. We are pushing the envelope on internal considerations. The reason we're doing that is we're not going to be able to turn over the whole bullpen from external alternatives. We've got limited external alternatives. We'll continue to be aggressive in pursuing external alternatives, but the reality is the answers are probably going to have to lie internally."
Laffey, who has worked out of the 'pen in the Minors, also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings in relief in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series in Boston.
In 13 games this season, spanning 10 2/3 innings, Perez has allowed 18 earned runs -- including 19 hits, one home run, nine walks (two intentional), five strikeouts, a hit batter and a balk -- for a 15.19 ERA.
Shapiro said the goal for Perez in returning to the Minors would to give him "the chance to just catch his breath a little bit and get in some regular work down there."
With four starts with Columbus, Sowers has posted a record of 1-1, with a 2.25 ERA, with 22 strikeouts against five walks. In his last start, April 28 at Toledo, he pitched seven innings, allowing one run on five hits and two walks, with six strikeouts.
Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.