Indians Notebook: Pushing the deadline on trade possibilities; Fultz update; Martinez and Lee at it again.
If the Indians find themselves in need of an alternative for their starting pitching rotation, they may actually have a couple.
Left-hander Jeremy Sowers, demoted to Triple-A Buffalo on June 10, appears to be finding himself. Left-hander Aaron Laffey has been impressive enough that the Bisons’ starting rotation was juggled this week to allow Laffey to be on the same turn as struggling Cleveland lefty Cliff Lee.
While Lee prepared to start against Boston at Jacobs Field, Laffey worked the opener of Buffalo’s doubleheader against Charlotte, allowing two runs over six innings of a 5-4 loss. He is 7-0 with a 1.75 ERA in June and July and 11-4, 2.94 in 13 combined appearances at Buffalo and Double-A Akron.
Laffey told the Buffalo News he was able to concentrate despite rumors of an impending promotion and having been pulled from his start Sunday after 48 pitches to allow him to work Thursday on three days of rest.
“I came in and tried to treat it like any other start,” said Laffey, who threw 97 pitches against Charlotte.. “I didn’t have time to let a lot of outside thoughts enter my mind. I treated it as if I was going to be here and, if I did get the call, I’d be happy and excited.”
The 22-year-old Laffey, drafted in the 16th round in 2003, has been one of the fastest-rising pitching prospects in the organization.
Sowers was no longer considered a prospect in 2006, not after he fared well in 14 starts for Cleveland (7-4, 3.57). He could not duplicate that success this summer, however, and was sent to Buffalo after 12 mostly forgettable starts for the Indians (1-6, 6.93).
The 24-year-old first-round draft pick from 2004 fared nearly as poorly during his first six starts at Buffalo (0-4, 5.82 ERA), but may be on the way back. In his two most recent starts, Sowers has allowed one run over 14 innings, striking out 13.
“I think he’s starting to figure it out, feeling things he’s felt before in a positive sense with his delivery,” Indians Manager Eric Wedge said. “There were a bunch of little things that needed to come together to make a difference for him.”
Wedge was asked if Sowers would be a candidate, should the Indians find themselves with a potential opening in their rotation.
“He would obviously be involved in conversations,” Wedge said.
TRADE TIME? Indians Manager Eric Wedge said he has “a sense” any trade the Indians might make won’t take place until shortly before Tuesday’s deadline. “If we don’t do something, it wasn’t for a lack of effort, not being aggressive and not kicking every tire and turning over every stone,” Wedge said.
THE FULTZ WATCH LHP Aaron Fultz (rib cage) will throw a simulated game today. If all goes well, he will begin a minor-league rehabilitation assignment next week. Wedge said Fultz would probably pitch in at least two minor-league games before being activated.
PLAY NICE Victor Martinez and Cliff Lee were battery mates again Thursday, five days after being involved in a dugout scrap that led to a postgame team meeting. “In all honesty, I did not give it a thought until five or six seconds ago, when you mentioned it,” Wedge told reporters.
CELEBRITY GUEST Former Indians Manager Frank Robinson threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Robinson was in town to appear at a corporate function.
ON THE FARM Single-A Lake County left-hander Ryan Morris allowed only a solo home run over four innings Wednesday, but the Captains fell 4-3 to the Hickory Crawdads. Morris had made his first five starts of the season for the Gulf Coast League Indians (3-0, 1.80) before being promoted. He was drafted in the fourth round last year from South Mecklenburg (N.C.) High School.
Reach Canton Repository sports writer Andy Call at (330) 580-8346 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.