Notes: Shapiro puts pressure on himself

Tribe notes: Shapiro pressures himself

CLEVELAND -- The pressure is on general manager Mark Shapiro and manager Eric Wedge.

No, the pressure does not come from ownership. It does not come from the fans. And it does not come from media reports such as this one.

"It's self-induced," Shapiro said Monday, just before the Indians' game against the Royals was rained out. "It comes from our own expectations and our own standards."

With the Tribe off to a disappointing 17-21 start, punctuated the past week by sweeps at the hands of the Royals and Tigers, plenty of talking heads and screaming fans are calling for changes.

Outside of touch-ups to the club's beleaguered bullpen, though, no major changes are expected. Not to the roster and certainly not to the coaching staff or front office.

"No one is working to keep a job, at all," Shapiro said. "I can definitively say that. Job security is the last thing on anyone's mind in this organization."

So how is the pressure Shapiro mentioned threatening in any way, shape or form?

"It's threatening for me," he said. "It threatens my health."

Shapiro has had plenty of reason to have a queasy stomach thus far this season, most notably from the performance of the pitching staff. But with the starting staff showing improvement in the weekend series against the Tigers, Shapiro is optimistic that better returns will come.

And as he watches his fourth-place Indians try to rebound from what has been a particularly tough couple of weeks, Shapiro is, indeed, feeling the pressure.

"There's not anyone who can put any more pressure on us than we put on ourselves, no matter what anyone writes or yells," he said. "Eric's not going to feel any more pressure than he puts on himself, and the same goes for me. He and I both feel that way."

Graves situation: Shapiro is hoping designated reliever Danny Graves clears waivers and reports to Triple-A Buffalo.

The Indians have until May 22 to trade, release or expose Graves to waivers. Shapiro said it would be difficult to forecast whether Graves, who went 2-1 with a 5.79 ERA in 13 appearances, would pass through waivers unclaimed.

"I want him to go to Triple-A," Shapiro said. "Because I think there's still enough there to believe that if he can get regular work, maybe he can get better."

Shapiro decided to cut Graves loose because of the inconsistency the veteran displayed.

"The quality of his stuff wasn't good enough to consistently get big leaguers out, particularly in meaningful situations," Shapiro said.

See ya, Steve: The decision to trade veteran Steve Karsay to the A's came down to Oakland having a big-league opportunity available for the right-hander.

"I couldn't forecast when he'd get to the big leagues here," Shapiro said. "And there were individuals ahead of him in the pipeline here."

Karsay went 1-1 with a 2.00 ERA in eight appearances for Triple-A Buffalo. He was dealt for an undisclosed amount of cash.

Raffy's return: Right-hander Rafael Betancourt played catch on the outfield grass on Monday afternoon. He's expected to come off the 15-day disabled list, where he's been since April 21 with a back strain, before Tuesday's game.

"We'll get him an inning under his belt [in middle relief]," Wedge said, "then we'll look to use him in the seventh or eighth."

Wedge said he still plans to use Guillermo Mota in the middle just to get the right-hander some more appearances, and Jason Davis and Fernando Cabrera will continue to work in the back end.

Shapiro said the Indians didn't call up converted starter Fausto Carmona for merely a three-day stint in the bigs. So with Scott Sauerbeck as the only left-hander in the 'pen, it stands to reason that Jeremy Guthrie would be the one optioned to Triple-A Buffalo when Betancourt is activated.

Down on the farm: First baseman Ryan Garko went 4-for-5 with three runs scored in Triple-A Buffalo's 9-2 win over Ottawa on Sunday. Right-hander Brian Slocum, making his first start of the year, left the game after one inning with right forearm soreness. ... Double-A Akron split a doubleheader with Harrisburg. Right-hander Sean Smith gave up just two hits over seven scoreless innings in a 6-0 win in Game 2.

Tribe tidbits: Casey Blake has hit in a career-high-tying 12 straight games. He's hit .442 (19-for-43) over that span with four homers and eight RBIs. Blake leads the Majors with a .370 average. ... The Indians haven't lost six games in a row since Aug. 15-24, 2004, when they lost nine straight games. ... The Tribe's rotation was unaffected by Monday's rainout. Each scheduled pitcher for the four-game set with Kansas City was pushed back a day.

On deck: The Indians and Royals will see if the weather permits them to begin their scheduled series at Jacobs Field with Tuesday's 7:05 p.m. ET game. Right-hander Paul Byrd (4-3, 6.52 ERA) will go up against right-hander Scott Elarton (0-4, 4.34).

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