CLEVELAND — Fernando Cabrera’s struggles have reached the monumental level, but Indians manager Eric Wedge still isn’t giving up on the reliever.
“If you don’t feel like a guy can get the job done, there’s no reason for him to be here,” Wedge said. “He has as much upside as anybody (in the bullpen). When he gets in that slot, he has special stuff.
“We just need him to string it together, establish some confidence and get it going.”
Cabrera, who has been pegged for late-inning relief work the past two seasons, has gotten little going this season, entering Tuesday with a 5.79 ERA in 23 games, allowing 21 earned runs and 37 hits (seven home runs) through 322/3 innings. He surrendered four runs on five hits in just one-third of an inning in Monday’s 11-10 loss to the White Sox.
Wedge believes a mechanical flaw in the lanky 6-foot-4 right-hander’s delivery is holding him back. Normally, the team would send Cabrera to the minors to work out the problem, but he is out of options and the Indians aren’t ready to risk losing him on waivers at this time.
If Cabrera’s confidence is shaken, Wedge said he didn’t see it when he met with the reliever prior to Tuesday’s game, though Cabrera sat facing his locker in the clubhouse for an extended period of time after the conversation.
“I know that, just in talking to him today, that he believes in himself,” Wedge said. “We believe in him, too. We’ve seen it.”
Disabled reliever Aaron Fultz (strained muscle in rib cage) worked a bullpen session on Monday and will make the trip with the team for a three-game series in Texas, beginning Thursday.
Fultz is expected to make at least one rehab appearance before being activated, possibly as early as next week.
With rain falling Tuesday, Cleveland’s starting pitcher Paul Byrd checked a group of writers for a weather report, wondering if the game would begin on time.
“Do I have to put on my game face now or later?” Byrd asked.
The answer was later, with first-pitch delayed 25 minutes.
Passing the time
The current clubhouse fad is RBI Baseball, an old-school video game developed in 1988 by Nintendo.
Indians players, who have been playing the game religiously since the start of the season, are in the midst of a 16-man, double-elimination tournament with two video systems on two televisions in the clubhouse.
Starting pitcher Jake Westbrook is in charge of the operation, with a bracket board of the tourney, which is in the semifinal round, posted by his locker. Westbrook also seeded the players, with catcher Victor Martinez getting the top seed, followed by Cliff Lee and C.C. Sabathia.
As of Tuesday, Martinez had advanced to the semifinals to meet Sabathia, with second baseman Josh Barfield and clubhouse manager Tony Amato squaring off in the other semifinal matchup.
The games have gotten quite animated.
“Every now and then I hear a roar over there,” said Wedge, whose office is approximately 50 feet from the clubhouse.
One of the clubhouse attendants, the last seed, was taking a beating Tuesday when Westbrook yelled, “That’s why you’re a 16 seed.”
Indians reliever Jensen Lewis, who was born in Medina before moving to Cincinnati shortly after, was an Indians fan growing up. He was asked if he ever considered following the Reds.
“No, it’s like the Browns-Bengals thing. You’re either one or the other,” Lewis said.
Lewis made his big league debut Monday night, walking three and striking out two in 11/3 innings.
Double-A Akron outfielder Trevor Crowe has begun to pick up pace at the plate following a slow start. Crowe, Cleveland’s top pick (14th overall) in the 2005 draft, entered Tuesday batting .361 (30-for-83) in 19 games since June 27 to raise his average from .195 to .235.
l Crowe’s teammate Chris Gimenez, a 19th-round pick in 2004, was named Eastern League player of the week (ending July 15), batting .474 (9-for-19) with three doubles, three homers and five RBIs in five games.
Barfield got the day off, with utility infielder Mike Rouse taking his place. Barfield entered Tuesday hitting .252 with two homers and 41 RBIs in 87 games, with just one hit in his last 15 at-bats.
l Outfielder Franklin Gutierrez entered Tuesday leading the majors with a .600 (6-for-10) batting average since the All-Star break.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7137 or firstname.lastname@example.org.