Notes: Marte optioned to Triple-A
Club decides to get third baseman everyday playing time
BOSTON -- Andy Marte's part-time job with the Indians was part-time in every sense.Just nine days after activating him from the disabled list and returning him to the big leagues, the Indians optioned Marte back to Triple-A Buffalo on Monday. Left-hander Rafael Perez replaced Marte on the active roster in the Tribe's effort to bolster its bullpen during this stretch of 20 games in 20 days and against a Red Sox lineup heavy on the right-handers. When Marte went down with a hamstring strain on April 22, he lost his starting job to Casey Blake, who has hit .296 with six homers and 24 RBIs since April 23 while playing solid defense at third. The Indians were giving Marte the starts at third against left-handers after his return from the DL, but they decided he's better off playing every day in the Minors. "Ultimately, when you do have a young player, especially one you think is capable of being an everyday player," manager Eric Wedge said, "you want him to be prepared to play everyday up here." Wedge said he was happy with Marte's defense in the three games he played after his activation. Before the injury, Marte had made a team-high four errors. "We saw him be the guy we know him to be defensively," Wedge said. "Mentally [playing every day] will help him be more consistent with his swing and his approach to what's going to play up here." Marte hit just .180 (9-for-50) in 16 games with the Indians. Wedge wouldn't speculate as to whether Marte's stint in Buffalo will be of the short-term or long-term variety, but it's relatively safe to assume that if Blake keeps up his current pace and Ryan Garko continues to excel at first, the Indians won't have much need for a backup third baseman. "With the way Casey's playing, he's our third baseman," Wedge said. "That hasn't changed. The only thing that's changed is he's playing third base almost every day now." In the immediate future, that opens up more playing time in right field for Trot Nixon, who will likely get more starts against left-handers, as was the case when Marte was on the DL. But the Indians aren't expected to keep 13 pitchers for long. Perez, who has gone 3-3 with a 3.66 ERA in eight games, including seven starts at Buffalo, might be in for his second short stay with the Tribe this season. "He gives us another option now," Wedge said, "as we work through the bullpen." The Indians' next roster move will likely involve the promotion of a right-handed-hitting outfielder, Ben Francisco or Franklin Gutierrez. Here's the question ... In one of his more memorable games as a member of the Red Sox, Trot Nixon drove in five runs in Boston's 23-7 win over the Indians in Game 4 of the 1999 American League Division Series. Can you name the Tribe's starting pitcher from that rough night? First things first: The Indians' offense has made the first inning its first priority on this trip. Over the course of six games, to this point, the Tribe has scored 15 first-inning runs, compared to the two scored by the Royals and Tigers. Is it preparedness, coincidence or just dumb luck? "These guys are always ready," Wedge said. "I don't even question that. But teams go through stretches at the top of the order or the middle of the order or the bottom of the order, and they go through stretches early in the game, the middle of the game or late in the game. That's part of the beauty of the game of baseball." The beauty of the first-inning fortune, from the Indians' perspective, is that it's included seven home runs in the six games. "We've got some pretty good hitters at the top of our lineup," Garko said. "To start out strong in the first when you're on the road gives you a great mentality and positive energy." Hot for Trot: A throng of about 50 reporters and cameramen hovered around Nixon in the visitors' dugout before the Indians took batting practice. His was a hero's welcome to the city he called home for 10 big-league seasons. Josh Barfield said he saw something similar with the Padres last year, when Mike Piazza returned to Shea Stadium. "The whole dugout was filled [with reporters]," Barfield said. "And the stands were, like, half-filled for batting practice. They were going crazy every time he hit a home run." Tribe tidbits: The Indians signed their 36th-round pick from the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. Left-hander Ryan Miller was a draft-and-follow out of Blinn (Texas) Junior College, where he went 9-0 with a 2.05 ERA in 15 starts during his sophomore season. ... In Sunday night's 5-3 win over the Tigers, the Indians had just two at-bats with runners in scoring position, vs. the Tigers' 17. Detroit stranded 11 runners. ... The Tribe entered Monday with a record eight games better than last year at this point. The club has a 13-4 record against the American League Central after the sweep of Detroit. And the answer is ... The Indians' starter that night was Bartolo Colon, who was working on three days' rest and didn't work for long. He was chased out of the game in the second inning. On deck: The Indians and Red Sox resume their three-game series with Tuesday's 7:05 p.m. ET game at Fenway Park. Left-hander Jeremy Sowers (1-4, 6.29 ERA) will oppose right-hander Josh Beckett (7-0, 2.66).
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.