© 2007 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
07/22/07 8:52 PM ET
Notes: No lingering tension in clubhouse
Players-only meeting kept clubhouse doors shut on Saturday
By Ken Daley / Special to MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- There appeared to be no lingering tension Sunday in the Indians' clubhouse, though pitcher Cliff Lee and catcher Victor Martinez kept their distance from each other and from reporters. An in-game dispute between those two apparently triggered the unusual players-only meeting that kept the clubhouse doors sealed for 27 minutes after Saturday's 8-5 loss to the Rangers. Manager Eric Wedge declined to shed light on the incident Sunday, and twice avoided the chance to say a problem had been ironed out and was behind his team. "It was a players-only meeting," Wedge said. "It was about whatever they deemed important. It doesn't necessarily mean it was a difficulty. It just means sometimes you need to talk about things. It's just part of being a family." Exactly what prompted this family feud remains unclear. There were indications that Lee either disagreed with his catcher over pitch selection or took offense at criticism for a lackadaisical approach at the start of Saturday's game. Whatever the case, Lee put his team in an early hole by allowing five runs on six hits in the first inning, then suddenly retired 17 of the next 19 hitters after the opening frame. "[Lee] prepares. He works hard and he's a competitor," Wedge said. "But, for whatever reason, he just had a different mind-set from that second inning on. And what we saw out there was the Cliff Lee that's more consistent, more aggressive, more efficient, and he held onto it for five or six innings." Other speculation was that the dispute began after Lee beaned Sammy Sosa leading off the third, and that Martinez was either angry that Lee's reckless pitch would put Indians hitters in jeopardy of retaliation, or that he was upset at seeing the famed Latin slugger knocked out of the game on the same night his milestone 600th career home run had been celebrated before the game. "There was nothing intentional [about Sosa getting beaned]," Wedge said. "It was a 2-0 count and you saw Cliff was all over the place at times. So there was nothing intentional. You just hate to see anybody get hit the way he got hit, though." So did something transpire between Wedge's starting pitcher and All-Star catcher? "They had a discussion during the game," Wedge said, "but nothing beyond that." So why the need for a postgame team meeting? "The meeting is their business. It's what they want to address and what they want to talk about," Wedge said. "There's nothing negative about it. When players get together and talk, it's going to be a positive. It's going to help us, it's going to help them. It doesn't necessarily mean there's something they need to iron out. It's just maybe there's something that needs to be addressed, so that's what they do. "Anytime the players want to have a meeting like that, it's healthy. It's smart to do a little housecleaning. But it's their business and that's the way we'll leave it." No hard feelings for Hafner: Designated hitter Travis Hafner said he harbors no ill will toward Texas for trading him away in December 2002. In a deal still widely lamented by Rangers fans, former Indians general manager John Hart swapped Hafner and pitcher Aaron Myette to Cleveland for right-hander Ryan Drese and catcher Einar Diaz. At the time, Hafner was a bright hitting prospect whose path to the Majors was blocked by the presence of veteran Rafael Palmeiro and emerging star Mark Teixeira. But the Rangers only got one year out of Diaz and 20 wins in 2 1/2 seasons from Drese, while Hafner developed into an MVP candidate with 42 homers and 117 RBIs last season. Had Hafner remained stuck in the Rangers' logjam, he might never have earned the new four-year, $57 million contract extension the Indians gave him this month. But he said returning to Rangers Ballpark elicits no special feelings anymore. "It's pretty much like going to any other ballpark," he said. "Most of the people I knew when I was here are no longer here. Plus, I had only been up here a month and a half when I heard about the trade, so it wasn't like I had time to get too attached to this place. "I'm really happy in Cleveland. It was a great opportunity for me to finally have a chance to play, so I was very excited when the trade happened. And I feel very fortunate we were able to get something done [with the new contract]. My wife and I both love it in Cleveland. It's a good young team, it's a team that should be very competitive for a long time, it's a good situation for me. I'm looking forward to the next several years." Here's the question: American League East-leading Boston arrives Monday to open a four-game series at Jacobs Field. Over the last 50 years of Red Sox-Indians matchups, which club has had the higher batting average, home run total and runs scored total against the other? Big day at the ballparks: Major League Baseball drew 639,628 fans to Saturday's 16 games, the second largest single-day attendance total in its history, according to research. The record for attendance for a single-day was established on July 3, 1999, when 640,412 fans attended 17 games. The Indians and Rangers contributed to the total with a crowd of 44,554 at Rangers Ballpark, where Sosa was feted before the game for hitting his 600th career home run on June 20. Overall, Major League Baseball remains on pace to establish a new regular-season attendance record for the fourth consecutive year. Through Saturday's games, total attendance was up 4.7 percent over the same date in the record-breaking 2006 season. Down on the farm: Triple-A Buffalo's game with Syracuse was rained out Saturday, with a doubleheader set for Sunday. ... Double-A Akron dropped a 6-1 decision Saturday against Reading, as Shawn Nottingham (7-8) gave up three runs on six hits over 5 2/3 innings. ... Class A Kinston fell to Frederick, 8-5, despite third baseman Wes Hodges going 2-for-5 with two doubles and three RBI. Hodges is now batting .312. ... Class A Lake County rolled over Lexington, 6-1, as first baseman Beau Mills and shortstop Carlos Rivero drove in two runs apiece. And the answer is: Since 1957, the Red Sox hold a 377-349 series edge over Cleveland, mainly because Boston has outhit (.269-.263), outhomered (770-688) and outscored (3,506-3,312) the Tribe over that span. Up next: Indians RHP Jake Westbrook (1-5, 6.07) is scheduled to oppose Red Sox LHP Jon Lester (0-0, 0.00) in the opener of a four-game series with Boston at Jacobs Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.
Ken Daley is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.