November 25, 2014

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Struggling to adjust

At .227, Dellucci feeling pressure

DETROIT — Other than sticking up for teammate Josh Barfield during a skirmish with the Toronto Blue Jays on May 3, David Dellucci has done little to get his new teammates and fans excited.
Dellucci, acquired in the offseason to platoon with Jason Michaels in left field, entered Friday batting just .227 with a home run and seven RBIs in 35 games. No one has driven in fewer runs than Dellucci, other than utility infielder Mike Rouse, who has played just 18 games.
A fast start by Cleveland’s offense has overshadowed a slow one for Dellucci, but the career .263 hitter is well aware of his struggles.
“The longer this thing goes, the more it affects you mentally,” said Dellucci, who is hitting .208 in May, with just five hits in his last 32 at-bats. “I tend to look at things in a negative way instead of positive. This is a new team, new fans. I want to go out there and impress everybody. That’s probably adding to it a little.”
With left-hander Nate Robertson on the mound for the Tigers on Friday, Dellucci was out of the lineup. He was replaced by Michaels in left, while Casey Blake made his seventh start in right.
Wounded Wahoos
Here’s an update on a trio of injured Indians pitchers:
Adam Miller — The team’s top pitching prospect was scratched from his second straight start Thursday with a flexor tendon strain in his right middle finger. He will be examined Tuesday in Baltimore by hand specialist Dr. Tom Graham.
Jake Westbrook — On the disabled list with a strained abdominal muscle, the right-hander threw a 40-pitch bullpen session Friday and is scheduled to throw a 50-pitch session Sunday, followed by a simulated game on Tuesday. If all goes well, Westbrook will begin a rehab assignment with a projected return date of mid-June.
Matt Miller — The sidearming reliever was activated from the injured list (strained forearm) on May 9 and optioned to Triple-A Buffalo, where he owned a 6.75 ERA in seven appearances through Thursday. Indians manager Eric Wedge said Miller was healthy and available if needed.
Brothers in arms
Paul Byrd was on the mound Friday night, which meant backup catcher Kelly Shoppach was behind the plate. Shoppach has caught all of the right-hander’s eight official starts this season.
The combination has worked so well that the Indians don’t want to change it, but that’s not superstitious, according to Wedge. 
“It has nothing to do with superstition,” he said. “We matched them up early and it’s worked out well, so we just stuck with it. There’s really nothing more to read into.”
Where’s the whistle?
Count C.C Sabathia among the number of basketball fans who thought LeBron James was fouled on his drive to the basket for the game-winning shot in the Cavaliers’ Game 2 loss to the Pistons on Thursday night.
Sabathia, a friend of Cleveland forward Drew Gooden from his high school days in California, was optimistic about the Cavaliers’ chances when the Eastern Conference finals began.
“I don’t know now,” Sabathia said.
Minor details
Outfielder Ben Francisco, who made a sparkling impression with the Indians this spring, entered Friday hitting .343 (third in the International League) with three homers, 23 RBIs and 10 stolen bases in 37 games for Buffalo.
l Double-A Akron outfielder Trevor Crowe, considered Cleveland’s top position-player prospect, is still struggling, batting just .177 with a homer and 16 RBIs in 42 games through Thursday.
Roundin’ third
The first-year player draft takes place June 7 and will be broadcast for the first time on ESPN2. The Indians have the 13th overall pick, but won’t make another choice until the fourth round (138 overall) after losing their second- and third-round picks as compensation for signing free agents Roberto Hernandez and Dellucci this offseason.
l The Indians entered Friday with a 22-10 record against right-handed pitching and a 6-7 mark against lefties.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7137 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com.