Notes: Shelton assumes hitting duties

Notes: Shelton assumes hitting duties

CHICAGO -- Derek Shelton was in Akron watching the Double-A Aeros when he was called Saturday and asked to take over for hitting coach Eddie Murray, whom manager Eric Wedge decided to dismiss.

Yes, Shelton knew he would be following a Hall of Famer; yes, he also knew the Indians have been a major disappointment at the plate this season. But, no, he didn't hesitate to give his answer to Wedge's offer.

To the offer, Shelton, the organization's Minor League hitting coordinator, weighed it for, oh, about a half second before giving Wedge a reply. It was yes.

"I was excited, as anybody would be," Shelton said Sunday.

Wedge said Shelton was the only person who got serious consideration to replace the 49-year-old Murray, whose inability to turn around the hitting led to his removal.

"We believe -- and I believe strongly -- that we have the players here with the ability to do better than what we're doing," Wedge said. "Ultimately, we needed to start moving in that direction."

Having rejected Murray as the person to orchestrate the turnaround, Wedge looked at the body of Shelton's work in the Minors. He liked what he saw and heard.

"He's a quality hitting guy, and he has a good, working relationship with many of our guys," Wedge said. "He'll develop one with the rest of 'em."

In his first day on the job, Shelton, 34, didn't provide any canned answers for what might be short-circuiting the Indians on offense. He did say he had watched many of their games on TV, but he declined to make any quick decisions before he settled into his duties.

Over the short term, he said he'll just sit around and watch. His long-term goal, he said, is to improve the hitting, which ranks at or near the bottom of the American League in every statistical category of significance.

Shelton was quick to point out that he wasn't going to try to fill Murray's shoes, which wouldn't fit him anyway. He'll have his own style, which the team thinks might suit its situation better than Murray's did.

"Shoes to fill? I'm just gonna come in and do my job," Shelton said. "I'm gonna go about it, day to day, with each individual guy."

Here's the question: Who was the youngest player to ever wear an Indians uniform? (See answer below.)

Quotable: "Hello, baseball fans everywhere." -- Hall of Fame announcer Jimmy Dudley's signature phrase to kick off his Indians broadcast

Did you know: Despite few speed demons last season, the Indians finished sixth in the American League in stolen bases with 94. They had two players with at least 20 steals in Coco Crisp (20) and Matt Lawton (23). Omar Vizquel had 19.

This and that: Entering play Sunday, the Indians sported the fourth-lowest ERA in the league at 3.77, a figure that includes the second-lowest relief ERA at 2.67. ... The Indians have saved 17 of their 21 chances, and their bullpen has walked 57 in 165 innings, retired 112 of 150 first batters faced (74.3 percent) and stranded 66 of 85 inherited runners. ... Indians starters have pitched five innings or more in 42 of 54 games. ... The Indians have won eight of their last 14. ... Left-hander Cliff Lee is tied for sixth in the league with six wins, and Lee's record on the road is 5-1. ... Right-hander Jake Westbrook's eight losses are the most in the Majors. ... The Indians are 12-0 when they score six or more runs and 20-9 when scoring four or more runs. But they have scored three runs or less in 25 of their 54 games. ... The Indians are 4-9 against left-handers and 21-20 against right-handers. As a team, the Indians are hitting .252 against right-handers and .209 against left-handers. They are hitting .223 (132-for-591) from seventh inning on. ... The Indians are 8-15 on the year in one-run games, and 32 of 54 their games have been decided by two runs or less.

Tribe tidbits: Indians fans can buy tickets for home games at The Jake through the Internet at, at the Jacobs Field box office, at the seven Cleveland Indians Team Shops in Northeast Ohio and through the phone center (1-866-48-TRIBE). ... The Indians, the Cleveland Clinic and the American Red Cross will conduct a blood drive from 1-8 p.m. ET on June 16 at Jacobs Field. The location inside the ballpark will be the Carnegie Driveway in front of the Club Lounge. The Indians are inviting the front office staff and families, game day employees and the local media to participate in the drive.

On this date: Playing for the Rangers in 2002, Juan Gonzalez became the 34th Major Leaguer (and the first from Puerto Rico) to hit 400 homers. Gonzalez reached the milestone off Angels left-hander Jarrod Washburn.

And here's the answer: The temptation might be to say it's shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who was barely 21 when he stepped onto the field with the Tribe in 2003. But he's an oldster compared to Bob Feller, who was 17 when he joined the Indians in the bigs in 1936.

On deck: The Indians resume Interleague play on Tuesday in San Diego. Left-hander Cliff Lee will go after his seventh win of the season, and he'll face Padres right-hander Brian Lawrence.

Justice B. Hill is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.