Notes: Bullpen still coming together
Indians manager Wedge looking for best fit in setup roles
DETROIT -- The Indians' bullpen has improved this year, but that doesn't mean it's the reliable machine manager Eric Wedge wants it to be."We've still got a lot to figure out in our bullpen," Wedge said Friday as the Tribe prepared to begin a three-game set against the Tigers. "We've got guys who are capable of filling a role for us, but, for the most part, we're still working it out." Fernando Cabrera and Roberto Hernandez clearly are still works in progress. Cabrera has given up 12 earned runs over his last 8 2/3 innings of work, and he's served up five home runs in his last five games. The veteran Hernandez also has been scuffling, giving up eight earned runs over his last 15 appearances. On top of that, Wedge has newly called up Mike Koplove, who he'll have to get a feel for in the middle innings before he can feel comfortable trusting him late. All this serves to cause a thin setup situation for Wedge, who is looking for a sturdier bridge to closer Joe Borowski. "When we do need some help late in the ballgame beyond [Rafael] Betancourt and [Tom] Mastny," Wedge said, "we're looking for a guy to step up there." Earlier this season, Cabrera was on the fast track to becoming Wedge's go-to setup man, but he has derailed in a hurry. Wedge, though, did see signs of improvement from Cabrera's outing Wednesday, when the right-hander gave up two runs on two hits and a walk in two innings. Wedge was encouraged by Cabrera using all his pitches in that outing. "He did get through two innings, and he started to show signs of the old Fernando," Wedge said. "To be able to do that is something he can work off of." Gaining momentum: Jason Michaels has an addiction. The PlayStation Portable video game device he clutches in front of his locker in the clubhouse might as well be glued to his hand. Why does he play it so often? "I'm bored," said Michaels, whose game of choice is "ATV Offroad Fury." But work has picked up quite a bit for Michaels on this trip, during which the Indians faced left-handed starters twice in the three-game Royals series and will face two more this weekend against the Tigers. Michaels, the platoon left fielder who gets his start against lefties, has taken advantage of the uptick in playing time. He jacked a three-run homer off Jorge De La Rosa in the first inning Thursday night, and he's raised his May average to .341 with seven RBIs in 14 games. "I'm just staying with it and being positive," Michaels said. "It's fun to play, and I've been ready to play." Here's the question ... Who was the last Indians pitcher to throw a complete game in his first Major League start? Miller watch: Top prospect Adam Miller hasn't pitched since May 12, and he won't be pitching anytime in the next few days. Miller was scratched about 20 minutes before his scheduled start for Triple-A Buffalo on Thursday at Louisville because the strained tendon on the middle finger of his right throwing hand acted up again. "He didn't feel comfortable with how he felt," head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff said. "He didn't feel he was able to compete." Miller has not been shut down from throwing, as he will throw on the side this weekend. But he will not start a game until after he sees team hand specialist Dr. Tom Graham in Baltimore on Tuesday. "He hasn't experienced a pop," Soloff said. "He just came up a little sore." The other Miller: Matt Miller, who was activated from the 15-day disabled list and optioned to Buffalo earlier this month, is considered to be one of the Indians' top bullpen options down on the farm, but Koplove beat him to the big leagues in part because Koplove had a June 1 out in his contract if he wasn't promoted. Miller has posted a 6.75 ERA in seven appearances for the Bisons, giving up five runs in 6 2/3 innings of work. "He's working to get back to his old self," Wedge said of Miller. "We're hoping he's over the hump [physically after suffering a forearm strain in Spring Training]." Tribe tidbits: Right-hander Jake Westbrook (left abdominal strain), who is on this trip with the club, threw a 40-pitch bullpen session and used all his pitches Friday. Westbrook will throw a 50-pitch bullpen on Sunday. If all goes as planned, he will toss a 35-pitch simulated game Tuesday. Soloff said Westbrook is on schedule to return to the rotation by mid-June. ... Entering Friday, the Indians had just four errors in their last 16 games, with 13 of those 16 games errorless. ... When Casey Blake hit a solo homer off Nate Robertson in the first inning Friday night, it marked the Indians' season-high ninth straight game with a home run. Down on the farm: Right-hander Jeff Harris, called upon to make the spot start in place of Adam Miller, gave up four runs on seven hits in six innings, and left-hander Juan Lara gave up the winning run in extra innings, as the Bisons fell, 5-4, to Louisville on Thursday. ... Third baseman Pat Osborn drove in four runs from the No. 9 spot of the order, and Ryan Goleski knocked in the winning run with a 10th-inning RBI single in Double-A Akron's 7-6 win over Altoona. ... Class A Kinston split a doubleheader with Winston-Salem. Right-hander Sung-Wei Tseng gave up just one run on three hits in six innings, but he took a no-decision in the 2-1 loss in game one. In the nightcap, right-hander Jim Deters gave up just one run on five hits in five innings in his first start of the year. ... Right-hander Hector Rondon tossed five shutout innings in Class A Lake County's 4-0 win over Delmarva. And the answer is ... John Farrell threw a complete game in his Major League debut against the Tigers on Aug. 21, 1987. Farrell now is the pitching coach for the Red Sox. On deck: The Indians will make their first appearance of the season on FOX's Game of the Week with Saturday's 3:55 p.m. ET game at Comerica Park, and it will be a marquee pitching matchup. Left-hander C.C. Sabathia (6-1, 3.51 ERA) will oppose right-hander Justin Verlander (5-1, 2.68).
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.