Notes: Phillips' days with Tribe over

Notes: Phillips' days with Tribe over

CLEVELAND -- The Indians found interest for Brandon Phillips from a handful of teams.

But it was clear from the time they designated him for assignment last Saturday that the value received for Phillips wouldn't be nearly as high as Phillips' perceived value when he came to the organization.

And so, rather unceremoniously, Phillips, the player once deemed to be the best prospect acquired in the 2002 Bartolo Colon trade with the Expos that also netted the Tribe Grady Sizemore and Cliff Lee, was traded to the Reds on Friday in exchange for a player to be named or cash.

The Indians must decide by June 15 whether they want the player, which they would select from a list provided by the Reds, or the predetermined amount of cash.

"We took our time to examine all the alternatives," assistant general manager Chris Antonetti said. "We tried to make the best deal we could."

Because Phillips was out of options, the Indians had to either give him a Major League job out of Spring Training camp, trade him or expose him to waivers. Based on the interest from other teams, the club was convinced Phillips would not have passed through waivers.

The 24-year-old Phillips will be on the Reds' big-league roster as a utility infielder. Phillips lost out on the same role in Indians spring camp in the battle with veteran Ramon Vazquez.

Phillips was the Tribe's Opening Day second baseman in 2003, but was demoted to Triple-A Buffalo by the All-Star break. He has spent the majority of the last two seasons with the Bisons, hitting just .256 last season.

The Indians were never satisfied with Phillips' plate approach, as he had a tendency to overswing, rather than go for contact. In the end, Antonetti said, Phillips' progress and options status just didn't align with the team's current needs.

"He still has a chance to be a very good Major League player," Antonetti said.

Just not with the Indians.

Antonetti would not comment specifically on what level of player the Indians would receive as the player to be named.

"Hopefully it'll be a guy we feel good about that can play in the Major Leagues someday," Antonetti said. "He'll probably be a little further away [than Phillips was]." Beat-up Belliard: Second baseman Ronnie Belliard came out of Friday's game in the middle of the seventh inning because of stiffness in his right calf.

Belliard said he felt uncomfortable as he trotted off the field between innings. Neither he nor the Indians are sure how long the injury will keep him out of action, and he's listed as day to day, for now.

Good first impression: The word placed before Jason Michaels was "credibility."

He didn't hesitate to agree it would be a good word to describe what a player is looking for when he joins a new team.

For while a guy might come with a good reputation, a bubblegum card full of positive stats and a good attitude, a big day on the field early in the season is the best way for him to show he belongs.

Michaels, acquired from the Phillies in January to replace Coco Crisp, had that day Wednesday in Chicago, when he went 4-for-5 with the game-winning RBI double in an 11-inning, 4-3 win over the White Sox.

The left fielder said he wants to use these early days of the season to show his teammates his playing nature, which he defines rather simply.

"I'm just going out there and playing hard," he said. "And whatever happens, happens."

What's happening now, much to Michaels' delight, is manager Eric Wedge penciling Michaels' name in the lineup day in and day out. That's never happened before in the 29-year-old's career, and he intends to make it a regular occurrence.

"It feels good," he said. "It really does. I try to simplify it as much as I can. I try to have good at-bats and not do too much. I just need to get on base."

Here's the question: The Indians won Game 6 of the 1948 World Series against the Boston Braves. Can you name the winning pitcher? (See answer below)

In the fast lane: Fastballs down the middle.

Fastballs on the corners.

Fastballs up and down and left and right and all over the strike zone, inside and out.

That's Guillermo Mota's game.

On Wednesday, for instance, Mota threw a whopping 49 pitches over 1 2/3 innings of work. Two of those pitches, he said, were changeups. Pretty much all the rest were fastballs.

"That's my style," Mota said. "I learned that from [Dodgers closer] Eric Gagne."

It worked for Mota against the White Sox. He held them scoreless on one hit with two walks and two strikeouts.

Curious as to how the two changeups turned out? Well, the first was a wild pitch to Jim Thome.

"I didn't want to throw it in the strike zone, because it was my first time throwing it [in the outing]," Mota said.

The other was more effective, as it got Paul Konerko swinging for strike three.

Tribe tidbits: Manager Eric Wedge said C.C. Sabathia is "on par" to be back within the three-to-five week timetable for return to the active roster. Sabathia was placed on the 15-day disabled list after leaving Sunday's game with strained right abdominal muscle. ... Antonetti said the Indians have until June 15 to pick a player to be named or cash from the Red Sox to complete the January trade that sent Crisp, Josh Bard and David Riske to Boston for Guillermo Mota, Andy Marte and Kelly Shoppach.

Down on the farm: Right-hander Fausto Carmona, expected to make the start for the Indians in place of Sabathia on April 15 in Detroit, threw four innings for Buffalo on Thursday and gave up two runs, one of which was earned, on three hits. The Bisons went on to lose to Richmond, 5-4, in the season opener. ... Three pitchers combined on a two-hit shutout, and Jose Constanza drove in the winning run in the eighth inning as Class A Lake County opened its season on the road with a 2-0 win over the Hickory Crawdads in Frans Stadium.

And the answer is: Hall of Fame right-hander Bob Lemon recorded the win, and left-hander Gene Bearden, a rookie knuckleballer that season, earned a save for 1 2/3 innings of relief work.

On deck: The Indians' first home series of the season continues with Saturday's 5:05 p.m. ET game against the Twins. Right-hander Jason Johnson will make his first start in an Indians uniform. He'll be opposed by right-hander Scott Baker.

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