08/03/08 2:15 PM ET
Dellucci out of lineup after rare big night
Three-hit performance could be sign of turnaround for veteran
By Mike Cook / Special to MLB.com
Dellucci was one of the catalysts in the Tribe's 5-1 win Saturday, with a single, double and two-run homer. It was his first three-hit game since April 13, 2007.
He hopes the trifecta is a good omen. He entered the night 5-for-29 in his last 10 games; however, he had five RBIs in that stretch.
"I've been swinging the bat a lot better since the All-Star break, but I haven't had a whole lot of luck. I've been on the wrong end of [ESPN] 'Web Gems,'" he said. "I'm hitting the ball good, but I don't have a lot to show for it."
Manager Eric Wedge sees the same thing.
"He's had pitches to hit, but he's just a tad off. He'll get pitches that he fouls back or pitches that he just misses. Hopefully, as we keep moving here, he'll start to square some of those baseballs up and help us."
Dellucci tries to keep his head up, but admits the recent lack of offensive success is "extremely frustrating."
"Everybody judges you by numbers," he said. "Our goal is to hit the ball hard. You can't control where it goes or what happens after it leaves the bat. There has been a lot of games where I hit the ball good and had nothing to show for it, and [if] you read the box scores or look at a batting average, you wouldn't be able to tell."
Dellucci missed nearly three months of the 2007 campaign with a left hamstring tear. He was limited to just thee at-bats after the June 19 injury.
Coupled with a trade from the Lone Star State to the City of Brotherly Love days before the 2006 season, and one can sense his frustration with the way his career has gone in recent campaigns.
"I went from consistent playing time with the Rangers to a fourth outfielder with the Phillies," he said. "I worked awfully hard to try to get away from the label that I was a fourth outfielder like I was with Arizona. I broke away from that when I was with Texas, hitting 29 home runs [in 2005], and having two good offensive seasons in a row, and then I get put right back into it with Philadelphia.
"I look at that trade as a step in the opposite direction. At this point in my career, it's kind of hard to reverse those things. When you're traded, there's nothing you can do about it and you just take the role you're given."
Signed by the Indians as a free agent prior to the 2007 season, Dellucci continues to be a fourth outfielder and gets some time at DH against right-handers. He entered Sunday hitting .234 in 252 at-bats this year.
"It's a lot easier to stay hot or swing well when you're in there on a consistent basis. Now I'm at the point where I try to make the most of each at-bat, each game that I'm in there. You can only control what you can. What you can't control, you have to let go."
Wedge likes the fire that Dellucci displays.
"The guy works as hard as anybody, cares as much as anybody, and when he's not playing the way he feels like he needs to play, he gets as upset as anybody," Wedge said.
Now in his 12th season in the Majors, the 34-year-old Dellucci can also pass on wisdom to his younger teammates.
"I look at myself as a leader by example. I think you can get your point across better by playing hard, respecting each other, respecting the game and doing the right things," he said. "I've been on several playoff teams, so I'm just here to help out wherever they need me."
Mike Cook is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.