CLEVELAND — The internal search for late-inning bullpen assistance has drawn a blank thus far, which means if the Indians do get some relief help, it will most likely come at the trading deadline and from outside their organization.
“We’re looking for people to step up,” said Cleveland manager Eric Wedge, who has gotten consistent efforts from just three of his late-inning relievers, closer Joe Borowski, setup man Rafael Betancourt and left-hander Rafael Perez. “We’ll see where we’re at when we get later into this month.”
The Indians have gotten few effective efforts from the four other current members of the relief core — Fernando Cabrera, Tom Mastny, Jason Stanford and recently-promoted Jensen Lewis.
Cabrera, who was expected to provide late-inning help, has struggled to a 1-2 record and 4.73 ERA in 22 appearances through Friday, melting down in a number of tight games.
Mastny, who held the closer role for a brief stint last season, has yet to regain his form, entering Saturday with a 4.63 ERA in 34 games.
Stanford is the long reliever, while Lewis had yet to make an appearance after being promoted on Friday.
The pool of available relievers outside the organization is a shallow one, with Texas’ Eric Gagne and Akinori Otsuka and Washington’s Chad Cordero as some of the bigger names that can reportedly be had by trade.
Here’s an update on injured Indians on the major and minor league levels, according to head trainer Lonnie Soloff.
David Dellucci: The outfielder who underwent surgery on his left hamstring has begun running in a swimming pool and will begin a walk/jog program in 5-7 days in hopes of returning in mid to late August.
Aaron Fultz: The reliever, who is on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his rib cage, will throw a bullpen session Monday and make at least one minor league rehab appearance before possibly being activated at the end of next week. He will most likely pitch with pain for the rest of the year.
Shin-Soo Choo: The Triple-A Buffalo outfielder will begin a return-to-throw program for his strained right elbow in 5-7 days with the team optimistic that he will play again this season.
Cliff Politte: The veteran right-hander’s comeback attempt at Double-A Akron was scrapped when he recently experienced a setback with his surgically-repaired shoulder. He is expected to begin throwing in the offseason with hopes of making it back in 2008.
Tony Sipp: One of the organization’s top relief prospects recently underwent Tommy John surgery and will not pitch again for at least a year.
He’s my guy
Apparently hitting instructor Derek Shelton’s young son Jackson is a fan of Indians outfielder Jason Michaels.
While watching batting practice prior to Saturday’s game, he wore an Indians t-shirt that read “Got J-Mike?” on the front, and “We do” on the back.
Bellevue graduate Brad Snyder had a big night Friday in Buffalo’s 5-4 victory over Durham in 11 innings, going 2-for-3 with a triple, two stolen bases and two RBIs.
* Akron’s Jake Dittler, a second-round pick in the 2001 draft, improved to 4-1 with a 3.93 ERA in 16 games (five starts) Friday, allowing just a run on six hits, while striking out five in eight innings of a 2-1 victory over Altoona.
Victor Martinez entered Saturday with hits in 13 of his last 14 games, batting .357 (20-for-56) with two homers and eight RBIs over the span. He hit .338 with eight homers and 28 RBIs in 37 games since May 31.
* The Indians are 35-14 in games when Grady Sizemore scores a run, 18-21 when he doesn’t.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7137 or email@example.com.