CLEVELAND — The Indians used a trade to boost their offense with the addition of outfielder Kenny Lofton. They weren’t able to do the same where their bullpen was concerned.
A relatively quiet trading deadline came to an end Tuesday with the Indians failing to land any relief assistance, despite making a push for right-hander Octavio Dotel.
“It was an area that was important for us to address and we weren’t able to because of the limited amount of guys available,” said Cleveland general manager Mark Shapiro, whose team has been in search of late-inning relief help for months. “We made significant offers, players that we’re very tough to give up.
“I’m satisfied with the addition of Kenny and I would have liked to have done more. But I have a strong belief in the players we’ve got and the ability of our coaching staff to get the most out of them.”
The Indians were one of a number of teams in the market for relievers, which elevated the asking price from clubs willing to accommodate the suitors, according to Shapiro. In the end, just three bullpen names of significance changed teams — Eric Gagne (Rangers to Red Sox), Dotel (Royals to Braves) and Scott Proctor (Yankees to Dodgers).
“I know how hard the front office worked to make something happen,” said Indians manager Eric Wedge. “You can’t make something out of nothing.”
Leading up to the deadline, a number of Indians players went on record to say they didn’t think a move was required.
“I think we’ve got a good thing going,” said starting pitcher Paul Byrd. “We brought Kenny in and I liked that. Even if we needed something else, which I’m not saying we did, you can’t get everything you want.”
The Indians could add a player via the waiver wire until Aug. 31, but Shapiro did not sound optimistic, though he predicted that his team would likely make some claims.
For now, Cleveland will look internally for relief help, hoping that Rafael Perez continues to progress and fellow left-hander Aaron Fultz is effective upon activation from the disabled list.
Tom Mastny has struggled for much of the year, but the Indians have gotten effective outings from Jensen Lewis. Matt Miller, a key member of Cleveland’s bullpen in 2004-05, is available at Triple-A Buffalo, but the right-hander has been dealing with arm issues since spring training.
The Indians aren’t overly concerned with their play since the All-Star break, despite owning an 8-9 record in the second half through Monday.
“I’m not satisfied with that and I don’t think that’s going to be good enough moving forward,” Shapiro said. “But we’re at a point in the season where we haven’t played as well as we can, like all teams go through.
“We haven’t hit a real negative stretch, but we’ve got to get going.”
Fatigue could be a factor, with Cleveland playing 63 times in 66 days leading up to the break and 17 straight to begin the second half before the off-day on Monday
“We’ve weathered quite a bit, just because of the amount of games we’ve played,” Wedge said. “We’re not looking to be a .500 ballclub, but you’re going to have those stretches. We know we’re going to get back on track.”
On the verge
Fultz made his second rehab appearance, pitching a scoreless inning for Single-A Lake County in an 11-9 loss to Greenville on Tuesday morning. He retired all three batters he faced, striking out one.
Wedge said Fultz, who has not pitched since June 22 with a strained muscle in his rib cage, could potentially be activated today.
Demoted left-hander Cliff Lee made his first start for Buffalo on Tuesday, allowing two runs on four hits and four walks, while striking out eight through 52/3 innings against Syracuse. Lee’s first five innings were scoreless.
– Right-hander Aaron Laffey allowed two runs on two hits in four innings of Buffalo’s 7-2 victory over Syracuse on Monday. Laffey was on a 50-pitch count because he is expected to be promoted to start for the Indians in place of Lee in Minnesota on Saturday.
-Cleveland’s top draft choice this year, Beau Mills, entered Tuesday batting .342 (13-for-38) with two homers and 14 RBIs over his last nine games for Single-A Lake County. He was hitting .266 with four homers and 29 RBIs in 31 games for the Captains through Monday after being promoted from Class A Mahoning Valley.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7137 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cabrera sent down
Struggling reliever Fernando Cabrera will be designated for assignment today to clear room for what is likely to be left-hander Aaron Fultz, who is expected to be activated from the disabled list.
Cabrera, pegged for late-inning relief work at the start of the season, has struggled much of the year, going 1-2 with a 5.61 ERA in 24 appearances.
He fell out of favor and was used sparingly, pitching in five games in June and five in July, with just two appearances since July 6.
“I’ve been in that situation for two months,” said Cabrera, who has spent his entire career in the Cleveland organization after being drafted by the Indians in 1999. “Nobody’s going to be happy (about that). It’s tough.”
Cabrera is out of minor league options, so he must clear waivers before accepting a Triple-A assignment.
“Nobody knows what’s going to happen,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll get a chance somewhere else, maybe. No matter what anybody thinks, I still feel strong about myself.”
— Chris Assenheimer