Notes: Looking for back-end help
Indians interested in former Angels and Tigers closer Percival
BOSTON -- General manager Mark Shapiro likes to say that baseball team's areas of deficiency are often "moving targets."But one target that hasn't moved, where the Indians are concerned, is the need for some back-end bullpen help. "That's the area we'd most like to fortify," Shapiro said. "But you can't have back-end bullpen depth. It doesn't exist." Still, the Indians are looking into at least one potential back-end alternative. Former Angels and Tigers closer Troy Percival, who last pitched in the big leagues in 2005, threw a bullpen session for scouts in Riverside, Calif., on Tuesday, and the Indians had at least one representative on hand. The Tribe was not alone. The Tigers and Phillies are among the other teams reportedly showing interest in Percival. "We'll be one of several teams out there, because so many teams need bullpen help," Shapiro said. "If a free agent is available at this point, we're going to look into it. [Percival is] one option." The Indians are pleased with the performance of Joe Borowski, who has saved 17 games in 19 opportunities, Rafael Betancourt, Tom Mastny and Aaron Fultz. They are not as pleased with the showings of Roberto Hernandez and Fernando Cabrera in the early going. Borowski's injury history means the Indians have to be careful not to overwork him, and the club knows it might benefit from another late-inning presence to take some of the burden off Borowski, if the Tribe is still in contention later this season. Shapiro said he is pleased with the way manager Eric Wedge and pitching coach Carl Willis have policed the workload of the relievers. "None of them are on track for over 70 outings," Shapiro said. "They've pitched a lot, but they're still in decent shape. Eric and Carl do a good job ensuring guys get the rest they need." Westbrook to Buffalo: Jake Westbrook is ready for the next big step in his rehab from a left abdominal strain. Westbrook, who threw a two-inning simulated session at Fenway Park on Tuesday, will make his first rehab appearance at Triple-A Buffalo on Friday. He will throw three innings or 50 pitches. In his simulated game, Westbrook threw about 50 pitches to Mike Rouse, Jason Michaels and Kelly Shoppach. He said it felt good to face hitters for the first time since suffering the injury May 2. "It was nice," he said. "It just feels good to keep throwing more and more pitches and progress. The key is to be patient and keep building to the point of getting back." Here's the question ... Which former Indians player hit three home runs in one game on two separate occasions at Fenway Park? Back in uniform: After Curt Schilling held the Indians to a mere run with 10 strikeouts over seven innings Monday night, the first person he credited was new Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell. So as much as Farrell helped the Indians as the club's farm director for five years, he hurt them on that night. But when Farrell looks across the dugout at the current assemblage of Indians, he knows much of the work he put in for the club has paid off. "There were a lot of late night conversations with some of those guys; there's been a lot of repetitive conversations," he said. "To see some of the success they're having there, it's rewarding for a lot of people. They've got a good team." Wedge said he isn't surprised to see Farrell succeeding in a new role. "I think John would be successful at anything he does," Wedge said. "That's the type of individual he is. He has a very diverse skill set. Whatever he does, he's going to be successful, and I don't just say that because he lives around the corner from me." Them's the rules: A day later, Casey Blake still wasn't convinced he had actually swung his bat on the controversial play from Monday night's game. First-base umpire Chuck Meriweather ruled that Blake had swung at a two-strike pitch that hit him in the hand, thereby making it a dead-ball third strike that ended Blake's at-bat in a crucial situation. Blake, who was named the American League's Player of the Week on Tuesday, watched the replay and still disagreed with the umpire. "I turned my upper body, but I don't think I swung," he said. "I had always heard that your hand is part of the bat. If that's the case, it's a foul ball." Of course, that's not the case, as Rule 6.05(f) states. Tribe tidbits: Head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff was still waiting on word from top prospect Adam Miller's visit with hand specialist Dr. Thomas Graham in Baltimore on Tuesday. Miller hasn't pitched since May 12 because of a strained tendon on the middle finger of his throwing hand. ... Trot Nixon was blown away at the reception he received from Red Sox fans and the award he and his wife, Kathryn, received from the Jimmy Fund in his return to Fenway on Monday night. The award, he said, was unexpected. "It was very touching, very moving," Nixon said. "We had no idea they were going to do that." ... Given the long stretch of games the Indians are in, Wedge decided to give Blake a day off Tuesday. Rouse spelled him at third. Down on the farm: Triple-A Buffalo left-hander Aaron Laffey threw an eight-inning complete game, giving up just two runs on six hits with a walk and three strikeouts, but he took a 2-1 loss to Indianapolis on Monday. ... Left-hander Chuck Lofgren struck out eight in five innings but gave up five runs in the process, as Double-A Akron fell, 5-4, to Erie. ... As expected, infielder Jared Goedert was promoted from Class A Lake County to high-A Kinston on Tuesday. Goedert ranks second in the Minors with 16 homers, 51 RBIs and a .475 on-base percentage. And the answer is ... Joe Carter hit three homers at Fenway on Aug. 29, 1986, and again on May 28, 1987. On deck: The Indians wrap up their nine-game trip with Wednesday's 7:05 p.m. ET game at Fenway Park, and they'll get their first look at Daisuke Matsuzaka (7-2, 4.43 ERA). Right-hander Paul Byrd (5-1, 3.81) will get the start.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.