October 26, 2014

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Cliff takes a dive down to minors – Tribe Notes

Indians send veteran lefty Lee to Buffalo

CLEVELAND — Indians pitcher Cliff Lee said he would do anything to reverse his failing fortunes.
Odds are pretty good he didn’t mean this.
Lee, a one-time 18-game winner and a staple of Cleveland’s rotation since 2004, was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo on Friday, returning to the minor leagues to try to locate his effectiveness.
Indians manager Eric Wedge and general manager Mark Shapiro met with Lee on Friday morning to inform him of the news.
“He was professional and accountable,” Wedge said. “He didn’t like going, who does? But he understood it.”
Lee, who owned two minor league options, didn’t have much of an argument for staying. He is 5-8 with a 6.38 ERA in 16 starts, pitching miserably over his last four outings, in which he posted an 0-4 record and 11.71 ERA. He was also involved in a dugout altercation with catcher Victor Martinez. He allowed eight runs on nine hits in just four innings of Cleveland’s 14-9 loss to Boston in the series finale on Thursday. 
“His competitiveness has always been his strength,” Shapiro said. “He needs to use that to fuel his adjustments. The hitters adjusted to him and he needs to adjust back.”
Lee’s season began on the wrong foot after he missed most of spring training with an abdominal injury. He was activated from the disabled list to make his season debut on May 3, pitching a complete-game, three-hitter in his second start before the problems began.
Wedge said Lee had no physical ailments and that he expected the left-hander back before the regular season is complete.
“This guy has thrown 200 innings and won 18 games,” Wedge said of Lee, who entered the season ranked fourth in the American League with 46 wins from 2004-06. “We know that when he’s on his game it’s a no-brainer to have him out there every fifth day.”
Buffalo reliever Edward Mujica was promoted to take Lee’s place on the 25-man roster, with the Indians not needing a fifth starter until Aug. 4. Lee’s replacement in the rotation will most likely be Triple-A Buffalo’s Aaron Laffey when that day arrives.
Comings and goings
To make room on the 25-man roster for Kenny Lofton, the Indians optioned outfielder Ben Francisco back to Buffalo.
Francisco played in 19 games for the Indians, making his major league debut and a big impression when he hit a walk-off home run in his first big league start. He hit .273 (12-for-44) with three homers and seven RBIs for Cleveland.
Francisco remains on the
40-man roster, with the Indians designating struggling Buffalo infielder Hector Luna for assignment to clear a spot for Lofton.
Fultz fodder
Disabled reliever Aaron Fultz pitched a simulated game at Jacobs Field on Friday, facing Indians hitters Mike Rouse and Jason Michaels.
Wedge said Fultz came through without incident and that the next step would be for the left-hander to make a minor league rehab assignment.
Minor details
Laffey allowed two runs on three hits in six innings of Buffalo’s 5-4 victory over Charlotte on Thursday, but the right-hander did not figure in the decision. He is 7-3 with a 3.22 ERA in 13 games for the Bisons.
-Class A Kinston catcher Armando Camacaro had a career night Thursday, hitting his first three home runs of the season and driving in six runs in a 7-5 decision over Wilmington.
Roundin’ third
Ryan Garko entered Friday leading the majors with a second-half batting average of .463
(19-for-41).
-Members of the Bluffton College baseball team will have lunch with Indians players and coaches today before taking in batting practice prior to the second game of the series with Minnesota. In a tragic accident in early March, five Bluffton players were killed when the team bus traveling to Florida for a tournament crashed in Atlanta.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7137 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com.