By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) - Rookie right-hander Ryan Drese, who has struggled with his mechanics in the second half of the season, was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo on Tuesday by the Cleveland Indians.
Drese was 9-9 with a 6.73 ERA -- the worst in the majors among pitchers who qualify.
"I'm extremely surprised," the right-hander said after being informed of the move following Monday night's game against the Oakland Athletics. "If anything I thought it would be after that second Yankees outing (a 14-7 loss on July 24). But I turned it around and pitched well in three of my last four starts and I get sent down.
"So I have no confidence now."
Drese won the Indians' No. 5 starter's job following a strong spring training. But after some early success, the 26-year-old hasn't progressed the way the Indians would have liked.
Drese will be replaced in the rotation by Ricardo Rodriguez, who came to Cleveland in the July 28 trade that sent setup man Paul Shuey to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Rodriguez was acquired along with right-hander Francisco Cruceta and veteran left-hander Terry Mulholland.
The 24-year-old Rodriguez was 3-1 with a 3.60 ERA in four starts with the Bisons. He is to make his major league debut Wednesday night against Oakland.
Rodriguez is one of several young pitching prospects the Indians are expected to bring up before the end of the season.
"We want to get a good look at Rodriguez," Indians interim manager Joel Skinner said. "Drese got 25 starts here, and now he'll get some more in Buffalo to work on his mechanics."
Rodriguez began the season pitching at the Dodgers' Double-A Jacksonville affiliate, going 5-4 with 1.99 ERA in 11 starts. Before being traded to the Indians, he went 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in two starts at Triple-A Las Vegas.
He was selected the Dodgers' No. 1 prospect by Baseball America before the season started.
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)