Notes: Marte back up to the Majors
Phenom who lost job after injury not likely to reclaim position
MINNEAPOLIS -- Proper protocol states that big-leaguers aren't supposed to lose their jobs because of injury. But the Indians had little choice when it came to Andy Marte.Marte was batting just .184 when he strained his hamstring while running out a groundout on April 22. And while he was on the disabled list, former first baseman Casey Blake stepped up admirably at Marte's third base spot, and Ryan Garko seized first. That left Marte at a spot where he's been most of the past three seasons -- Triple-A Buffalo. At Buffalo, Marte batted .267 with 13 doubles, 16 homers and 60 RBIs in 96 games before he was brought back up to the bigs, along with right-hander Ed Mujica and left-hander Juan Lara, in Tuesday's second round of September call ups. He hit in each of his last 13 games, batting .391 with three homers and 12 RBIs in that span. "I figured it out and finished strong," Marte said. "I stopped swinging at bad pitches and was more patient." The Indians can't afford to be patient with the 23-year-old Marte after this season. He will be out of Minor League options next year, so the Tribe will have to give him a job out of Spring Training camp or risk losing him on the waiver wire. Marte was expected to be the club's third baseman of the future when the Tribe acquired him in the January 2006 deal that sent Coco Crisp to the Red Sox. The future isn't now, as Blake remains entrenched at the position, so Marte's playing time in this final month will be minimal, at best. "He had a great attitude, worked hard and he did improve [at Buffalo]," manager Eric Wedge said of Marte. "He's going to be limited here, because of where we are as a ballclub." Though his relationship with the Indians hasn't panned out as well as either side initially hoped, Marte said he wants to be a vital part of the club's future. "I like this organization," he said. "I really do like it here. They have a good plan for me. I'm still young. I'm just 23 years old. I want to stay here, unless I get traded. But I don't control that." Losing his starting job in the Majors was also out of Marte's control. While he sat on the DL, others stepped up. "[General manager] Mark Shapiro and Wedge make those decisions," Marte said. "I understand. It's baseball." Last call? The Indians might have one more big league promotion up their sleeves. Left-handed starter Jeremy Sowers is being sent from Buffalo to Double-A Akron to be a part of the Aeros' postseason and to keep his arm stretched out. As it stands, Cliff Lee is the only pitcher on board who would be an option for the Indians' vacancy in the starting department in the Sept. 26 doubleheader in Seattle. Sowers, if brought back up, would be the other. "We want to keep him stretched out as long as we can," Wedge said of Sowers, who went 4-5 with a 4.10 ERA in 15 starts at Buffalo after his removal from the Tribe rotation. None of those called up on Tuesday are expected to have prominent roles this final month. They are here to provide depth in the event of an injury. Going deep: With his eight innings of work in Monday's win, C.C. Sabathia surpassed his previous career high for innings pitched in a season. Sabathia is the Major League leader in workload, having lasted 211 innings. His previous threshold was the 210 innings that he worked in 2002. Wedge opted to pull Sabathia after 100 pitches on Monday, even though he was cruising, because the big left-hander had thrown 109 pitches in his previous outing and 119 in the start before that. Wedge, however, doesn't think he has to be overly protective of Sabathia down the stretch. "He's still young, but he has a great deal of experience," Wedge said. "He's worked hard to be built up for this." Sabathia, as you might imagine, agrees. "My arm feels great," he said. "I'm fresh. I'm ready to rock every fifth day." Success with Santana: According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Indians are the first team ever to beat a reigning Cy Young Award winner five times in the following season. That's pretty impressive, considering the award was first given out in 1956. The Tribe achieved the feat by going 5-0 in six games against 2006 winner Johan Santana. So what's the secret? "Have great starting pitching," hitting coach Derek Shelton said. "Our guys did a good job adjusting against [Santana], because he made adjustments against us. But you've got to have your starting pitching working for you, which our guys did." Sabathia outdueled Santana three times in three starts over the past month. Fausto Carmona beat him once in April and once in May. Jake Westbrook and Santana both threw no-decisions when they faced off on July 28. Tribe tidbits: David Dellucci joined the club on Tuesday and took part in batting practice and some running drills, but he does not appear to be any closer to activation from the 60-day DL. Wedge said Dellucci, who's working his way back from a torn hamstring, will test his leg out again on Thursday in Anaheim. ... Santana is the first pitcher the Indians have beaten five times in a season since they went 5-1 against Camilo Pasquel of the Washington Senators in 1957. ... With Monday's win, Wedge surpassed Nap Lajoie for sole possession of sixth place on the Tribe's managerial wins list. Wedge has 398 victories under his belt. ... Blake had his teammates in stitches before batting practice on Tuesday, doing dead-on impersonations of the unique pitching styles of the likes of, among others, Paul Byrd and Rafael Betancourt, the hitting style of Ryan Garko and even the coaching style of Jeff Datz. ... The Indians' eight shutouts this season are tied for fifth-most in the American League. Down on the farm: Outfielder Ben Francisco, now with the Indians, won the International League batting title by hitting .318 with Buffalo, and Akron first baseman Jordan Brown did likewise in the Eastern League with a .333 mark. ... Buffalo left-hander Jason Stanford became the Bisons' modern era strikeout king in Monday's season finale. He has struck out 293 batters over seven seasons. First baseman Trent Durrington, right fielder Shin-Soo Choo and designated hitter Jason Cooper all homered in the Bisons' 8-5 loss to Rochester. ... Akron kicks off its best-of-five Southern Division championship series in Erie on Wednesday. ... Class A Kinston shortstop Josh Rodriguez stole two bases to reach the 20 homer-20 stolen base milestone in Monday's 4-3 win over Myrtle Beach. Kinston hosts Salem in the best-of-three Southern Division series, which begins on Wednesday. On deck: The Indians wrap up their three-game set at the Metrodome with Wednesday's 1:10 p.m. ET game. Carmona (14-8, 3.31) will oppose right-hander Scott Baker (8-6, 4.09).
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.