Shapiro Staying Patient With Indians

By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer

CLEVELAND (AP) - Mark Shapiro knows that he and the Cleveland Indians are running out of time.

With each defeat and every losing streak, Cleveland's first-year general manager gets closer to having to make some very difficult decisions.

If the Indians don't turn things around quickly, Shapiro may have to take an analytical look at his team and at manager Charlie Manuel and decide if the season is worth saving.

He's not looking forward to it.

"We're trying to hold off as long as possible because of what the potential outcome of those evaluations can be," Shapiro said Tuesday night. "It's something that we want to hold off as long as we can."

The Indians entered a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles having lost three straight games and 19 of their last 25 after starting the season 11-1.

Still, Cleveland is only 4½ games back in the American League Central Division.

"We're still in it," Shapiro said.

Shapiro is trying to remain patient, but more than anything, he wants to see progress.

"We need to get back to around .500 to feel like we have a legitimate chance to win a division," he said.

The Indians were hoping that a soft schedule in May would help them get things turned around, but they lost seven of their first 11 games this month.

The schedule is favorable for the rest of May with games against the Orioles, Kansas City, Detroit and Toronto -- all struggling teams with sub-.500 records.

"They're against teams we should beat," Manuel said of the club's remaining games in May. "We got 17 left and we need to win 10 of 12 of these ballgames."


SORE WING: Third baseman Travis Fryman's surgically repaired shoulder is acting up.

Fryman, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder in November, said he began having pain on Monday while throwing a Nerf ball with one of his three sons.

"It was bothering me quite a bit," Fryman said.

Fryman thinks he's suffering from some tendinitis, but just to be sure, he was planning to undergo an MRI on his shoulder Tuesday night.

Fryman said he tried for more than an hour to get warmed up before batting practice Tuesday, but his stiff shoulder never loosened up.

The 12-year veteran has been in a slump all season and entered Tuesday batting .206 -- and just .125 against right-handers.

Russell Branyan started at third base Tuesday night and Brady Anderson played left field.


BRADLEY UPDATE: Center fielder Milton Bradley's double vision has cleared up, but the iris in his left eye remains swollen.

Bradley broke a bone near his eye while trying to make a catch in a May 1 game against Anaheim. As Bradley was attempting to catch the ball, it ricocheted off the right-field wall and broke the orbital bone.

Bradley has been taking eye drops, but had a reaction to medication on Monday.

General manager Mark Shapiro said Bradley is two weeks away from practicing. He will be re-examined on May 22 by Dr. James Conforto at Lutheran Hospital to determine when he can resume playing.


BASELINES: Needing some offensive punch, the Indians recalled outfielder Bruce Aven from Class Triple-A Buffalo. Aven signed a free-agent contract with the Indians this winter, but couldn't win a major league spot and began the season with the Bisons. He was batting .276 with four homers and 13 RBIs in 31 games for the Bisons. ... Shapiro said right-handed pitcher Jake Westbrook, who had elbow surgery in February, has completed another stage of his throwing program in Winter Haven, Fla., and will throw his first bullpen session on May 16. He isn't expected to be back until the All-Star break. ... Right-hander Jaret Wright threw 60 pitches of live batting practice on Monday, Shapiro said. Wright was placed on the disabled list in March with a stiff shoulder. "He's still a long ways away," Shapiro said.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)