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05/12/06 11:15 PM ET
Carmona in, Graves out for Tribe
Indians hopeful prospect, Betancourt can help right ship
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- First, Danny Graves' hair was cut. Then, Graves himself was cut. The Indians designated the veteran Graves for assignment after Friday's 5-4 loss to the Tigers, giving them 10 days to trade or release him. To replace Graves on the active roster and in the bullpen, the club has called up right-hander Fausto Carmona. "Obviously, we're working to get our bullpen in shape," manager Eric Wedge said. The moves came one day after general manager Mark Shapiro told reporters that changes were going to be explored for the beleaguered Indians bullpen, which came into Friday with a 5.59 ERA that ranked last in the American League. Graves, who was making $575,000 this year, had become the poster boy for the 'pen's struggles. He owned a 2-1 record and 5.79 ERA in 13 appearances this year and never really settled in, whether used in long relief, mopup duty or tight situations. "Danny had showed signs," Wedge said. "But it was more about his inconsistency. He has a huge heart and a lot of guts. He's a great competitor. But ultimately, we felt we needed to make a move to helps us solidify things in our 'pen." The 32-year-old Graves showed up to Jacobs Field on Friday with three inches of his hair cut off. He was hoping the new 'do could inspire some improvement in his performance, but he was told of the decision shortly thereafter. Graves was not available for comment after the game. This is the second time the veteran has been designated in the past year. On May 23, 2005, the Reds cut him loose after he spent nine years as their closer, amassing 182 saves. The Indians signed Graves to a Minor League deal this past winter and made him a reclamation project. After calling himself a "born-again baseball player," Graves won the club's seventh and final bullpen job out of Spring Training camp based on some mechanical improvements that gave him more of a bite on his sinker. But opposing batters bit right back once the regular season began. In bringing up the 22-year-old Carmona, the Indians are giving one of their prized starting pitching prospects a chance to learn in a relief role. Carmona made three spot starts in place of the injured C.C. Sabathia last month, going 1-2 with a 7.94 ERA. He was dominant in his first outing against the Tigers, allowing just a run on five hits over six innings, but he labored his next two times out. The Tribe gave Carmona its sixth starting job out of Spring Training camp, in which he wowed the club with his poise on the mound against big-league hitters. Shapiro said he would put Carmona in the bullpen in the "right situation," and this, apparently, is it. Wedge said this should not be read as a permanent job switch for Carmona. "I wouldn't go to that extent," he said. "This is more for us as a need." Wedge said the Indians considered every option in their farm system, including veteran Steve Karsay, who has put up solid numbers at Triple-A Buffalo. But Carmona, he said, was the best fit. The club will reinstate Rafael Betancourt from the 15-day disabled list early next week. Beyond that, it's uncertain whether other moves will be made. "We're still working through everything," Wedge said. "I would like to sit and say once Raffy's back that these are the guys who are going to get it done. I hope that is the case."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.