Bullpen on verge of a new addition?

Fernando Cabrera was let go by the Indians after going 1-2 with a 5.61 ERA in 24 games, but Cleveland officials say he has the talent to be more successful.



By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer
Published August 11, 2007

ARLINGTON, Texas - The Devil Rays are interested in further revamping their bullpen by signing RHP Fernando Cabrera when he clears release waivers Monday.

Cabrera was let go by the Indians after going 1-2 with a 5.61 ERA in 24 games, but Cleveland officials say he has the talent to be more successful.

"We tried to be as patient as we could with Fernando," Indians assistant GM Chris Antonetti told Cleveland writers. "He's still going to be a very good major-league pitcher, but he needs to get regular work. We were not able to give him that regular work."

Cabrera, 25, was 3-3, 5.19 in 51 games last season. He is 6-6, 4.35 in 1301/3 major-league innings over four seasons, striking out 145 but walking 66 and allowing 20 homers.

Antonetti said Cabrera was claimed on trade waivers, but the Indians couldn't work out a deal, so they released him so he could "pick his next team." The Orioles are among other teams expected to be interested.

ROCCO REPORT: Manager Joe Maddon said Rocco Baldelli is on track to start a minor-league rehab assignment in 7-10 days and will be used as an OF/DH when he returns in September, though B.J. Upton will remain the primary centerfielder. Maddon said "it's not out of the question" Baldelli could try first base, but there has been no talk of a move.

FREE BIRD: LHP Casey Fossum was released Friday after declining an outright assignment to Triple A and hopes to be pitching elsewhere soon.

"I definitely want to hook on with another team if it's the right situation," said Fossum, 29. "I'm excited to have the possibility to pitch for a winning team and actually be playing for something."

Fossum, who gets the remainder of his $2.7-million salary and a $300,000 buyout from the Rays, should clear waivers and be available Monday.

One way or another: The somewhat surprising decision to shift Brendan Harris from shortstop to second base 10 games ago raised two not necessarily mutually exclusive questions:

- Were the Rays trying to gauge whether Harris could be next season's starting second baseman (at least until prospect Evan Longoria takes over at third and pushes Akinori Iwamura to second)?

- Or was it to see if Josh Wilson and/or Ben Zobrist was better than Harris at shortstop and could start in 2008?

According to Maddon, it was all the above.

"It's kind of equal," he said. "It's a combination of a whole bunch of things."

Essentially they liked what Harris did at shortstop (impressed by his arm but with concerns about range) but wanted to see him at second, and they wanted to get extended looks at Wilson and Zobrist, who both consider shortstop their best position.

(HALF) DAY OF REST: Each outfielder is getting a day at DH this weekend - Delmon Young on Friday, Upton tonight, Carl Crawford on Sunday.

That means three straight days in the field for Jonny Gomes. Gomes has hit .187 with three homers and 10 RBIs as a DH (91 at-bats); .330-10-23 playing the field (112 at-bats), though he was 0-for-4 on Friday.

MISCELLANY: Longoria hit .296 in his first eight Triple-A games with two homers. ... Iwamura may get Sunday off, with Wilson playing third. ... RHP Jay Witasick makes a second rehab start tonight for Class A Vero Beach.