Saturday, May 1, 2004

Indians shake up struggling bullpen

Riske replaced as closer by Betancourt, at least for a while

The Associated Press

CLEVELAND - As he promised, Indians manager Eric Wedge shook up Cleveland's battered and beleaguered bullpen.

David Riske was the one jarred most.

Riske, who has blown two saves and been hit hard most of the season, has been temporarily removed as closer and replaced by Rafael Betancourt - for now.

Wedge wants Riske to get his confidence back and will have the right-hander pitch in middle relief until that happens.

"I'm still confident in him," Wedge said of Riske, who inherited the closer's job in spring training when Bob Wickman had a setback following elbow surgery. "I think we'll be able to get him back to where we need him to be."

Betancourt has been arguably the Indians' most productive reliever this season, but at a price.

He already has appeared in 12 games and the Indians want to back off on using him.

Cleveland's bullpen - 3-8 with a 7.53 ERA entering the weekend - will get another boost in a few days when Jose Jimenez returns from the disabled list.

DRUG TESTING: Major League Baseball will begin a drug testing program for the Dominican Summer League, checking players for steroids and other banned substances this year.

The Dominican league is made up mostly of 17- and 18-year-old prospects. Games begin in June.

"To achieve our goal of zero tolerance of performance-enhancing substances and drugs of abuse, it is important to prevent the use of these substances in the earliest stages of a player's career," commissioner Bud Selig said.

CARDINALS: Second baseman Bo Hart was sent back to the minors, having gone from rookie sensation last year to reserve player.

Hart was sent to Triple-A Memphis and right-hander Josh Pearce was recalled to add depth to the bullpen.

Friday night's game against the Cubs was the fourth straight in a stretch of 13 without an off day. So manager Tony La Russa opted for 12 pitchers.

"It's nice to have that extra player, but we'll go back to square one," La Russa said. "I'll bet he's as disappointed this time as the last time, but there's nothing you can do about it."

ORIOLES: Baltimore placed designated hitter David Segui on the 15-day disabled list and recalled outfielder Darnell McDonald from Triple-A Ottawa.

Segui, a 37-year-old switch-hitter, has an inflamed left knee. He was batting .298 with one home run and seven RBI in 13 games.

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