December 21, 2014

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Fultz stuck on DL: Tribes Notes

CLEVELAND — The Indians planned on activating reliever Aaron Fultz after the All-Star break but that was scrapped Friday, with the team feeling the left-hander wasn’t ready.
Fultz, on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his rib cage, pitched a simulated game Thursday and the decision to leave him on the injured list was made shortly after.
“He was OK, but not to the point that we’re ready to activate him,” said Indians manager Eric Wedge. “I think he’s headed in the right direction, but we don’t want to pull the trigger and have to put him right back on the disabled list.
“I just think we’d be pushing it a little bit to activate him right now.”
Wedge said Fultz (3-1, 1.71 ERA in 32 games) would throw a bullpen session and another simulated game before making at least one minor league rehab appearance. He said Fultz could be activated by the end of next week.
Fultz said he could pitch with the injury but it has healed slower than expected.
“I can still feel it when I throw,” said Fultz, who hasn’t pitched since June 22. “It doesn’t get any worse. It just hasn’t improved as much as I want it to.”
The Indians promoted Triple-A Buffalo’s Jensen Lewis to take the spot vacated by Edward Mujica, who was optioned back to Buffalo over the All-Star break to clear room for Fultz.
Lewis, a 23-year-old right-hander who was a third-round draft choice in 2005 out of Vanderbilt, is a combined 3-0 with a 1.73 ERA in 34 games for Buffalo and Double-A Akron. He began his professional career as a starter but was converted to relief work prior to this season.
“A lot of people in the organization feel strongly about him,” Wedge said.
Lewis’ family originally hails from Medina but moved to Cincinnati shortly before he was born. He still has family and friends in Medina County, and he expected them to be in attendance Friday with the potential for him to make his major league debut.
Loyal lads
Indians owner Larry Dolan and general manager Mark Shapiro are receiving praise for locking up a number of the team’s core players in long-term contracts, including Travis Hafner, who signed a
four-year extension Thursday.
But the core guys, most of whom have been together since 2003, deserve some credit as well, with a number of them sacrificing big pay days on the free-agent market to remain in Cleveland.
“It’s this group of guys,” said pitcher Jake Westbrook, who signed a three-year extension earlier in the season. “We’ve been through the rebuilding process and we want to stick with it.
“Money’s nice, but I guess the bottom line is, ‘Are you happy?’”
Westbrook said a camaraderie exists within the Indians clubhouse that is rare on the big league level.
“Certain teams may have different groups of guys that hang out together or there might be a player that people don’t like,” he said. “I can’t say that here. I think that’s special.”
Break time
Cleveland third baseman Casey Blake used the All-Star break to return to his hometown, Indianola, Iowa, where he said he ate sweet corn.
When he was told the produce was not in season, Blake said: “(Iowa) is God’s country. It’s heaven. You can do anything in heaven.”
Minor details
Three Single-A Mahoning Valley pitchers — Kelvin De La Cruz, Daniel Frega and Vinnie Pestano — combined to throw a no-hitter Thursday in a 7-1 victory over Vermont in the second game of a doubleheader. De La Cruz, who was recently promoted from the Gulf Coast League, started and allowed an unearned run, while striking out seven through five innings.
l Akron reliever Cliff Politte is back on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation. Politte, once a key member of the White Sox bullpen, is attempting to come back from shoulder surgery.
Roundin’ third
The Indians entered Friday with an American League-leading 109 home runs, ranking third in the majors behind Cincinnati (128) and Milwaukee (124).
l Boxer Kelly Pavlik, a rising star from Youngstown, threw out one of the ceremonial first pitches.