Tribe turns to Dellucci to replace Pronk
Veteran outfielder chosen instead of highly prized prospects
DETROIT -- The Indians wanted David Dellucci to use his rehab stint at Triple-A Columbus as a second Spring Training, of sorts.But that spring got cut short when Travis Hafner's right shoulder began bothering him. To essentially take over Pronk's roster spot, the Indians on Friday activated Dellucci from the 15-day disabled list, where he had landed late in spring camp with a strained left calf muscle. Officially, Dellucci took the place of left-handed reliever Rich Rundles, who was optioned back to Columbus, but Rundles was only up for one day as a precautionary measure in a thin bullpen. The Indians passed on hot-hitting prospects Luis Valbuena and Matt LaPorta to promote the veteran Dellucci, but manager Eric Wedge implied before Friday's game against the Tigers that another move would be made after the game. Valbuena could very well be on his way up after hitting .311 with a .927 OPS in 21 games for the Columbus Clippers. He could help the Indians at second base, shortstop and third. In the meantime, Dellucci's presence gives Wedge a left-handed DH option, as well as another candidate to spell Ben Francisco in left field. In seven games with Columbus, Dellucci, who is in the final year of a three-year, $11.5 million contract, hit .414 (12-for-29) with a double, a triple, two stolen bases, three walks and two RBIs. He played two games in the outfield and the rest at DH. "I didn't have any setbacks, which is a good thing," Dellucci said of his rehab stint. "Some days [the muscle] was tight, some days it was not. But I did everything and was able to run 100 percent. That's the important thing." Wedge said Dellucci will see the bulk of his playing time at DH. That's where Dellucci started Friday, batting in the No. 7 spot. "He's been swinging the bat well, moving around well," Wedge said. But Dellucci is not considered the primary option to replace Pronk at the DH spot. Such an option really doesn't exist, as Wedge will choose from a mix of candidates that includes Victor Martinez, Ryan Garko and Shin-Soo Choo, among others. "It will be similar to what we did last year [when Hafner missed three months with shoulder weakness]," Wedge said. "We'll utilize that spot and move people in and out of it." The Indians hope to have Hafner back within a couple weeks. His surgically repaired shoulder began giving him problems again earlier this week. He will visit Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., on Monday. A more concrete timetable on his return should be available then.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.