Indians promote Marte to Majors

Indians promote Marte to Majors

CLEVELAND -- The key piece to one of the winter's most buzz-worthy trades has finally been fitted into the Indians' Major League puzzle.

Andy Marte, the big prize in the Coco Crisp trade, was called up to Cleveland from Triple-A Buffalo on Friday. And the Indians wasted no time in throwing their prospect into the thick of things; Marte was penciled into the lineup at third base, hitting ninth.

"It feels great to be here," Marte said. "I worked hard in Buffalo, and what can I say? I don't control [when I get called up.]"

He couldn't control it, but he could influence it. After a rough start to the season, something he attributed in part to cold weather in Buffalo, Marte flourished in June, winning International League Player of the Month honors. He also won the IL's Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game in Toledo. For the season, Marte has hit .261 with 15 home runs and 46 RBIs.

The Indians had wanted Marte to taste big-league pitching before rosters expanded in September. To make room for him, the Tribe optioned Ramon Vasquez to Triple-A; Aaron Boone is still on the roster, but general manager Mark Shapiro said that Marte will play "most of the games at third base."

"I'm going to try to be ready any day they want me in there, I'll be ready, and give them 100 percent," Marte said.

The young third baseman is not yet a finished product. He has committed 19 errors at the hot corner, and his numbers this year are down from previous Minor League campaigns. All the more reason for the Indians to get a good, long look at Marte near the end of what has proven to be a lost season.

"It's an opportunity for us to transition him to the Major League level," Shapiro said. "To, I think, both develop and evaluate him as we go into the offseason. ... We wanted there to be a meaningful number of games up here, both to develop and to evaluate him.

"This is development work. He is a work in progress. It's a guy we need to continue to evaluate at the Major League level, but it's also a guy we feel good about and is a guy who has had a great deal of success at the Triple-A level."

For all the excitement over Marte's debut, there's the knowledge that baseball is a zero-sum game. Marte's ascension means a diminished role for Boone, whose offensive and defensive struggles largely prompted Friday's move.

"We've talked to Aaron," Shapiro said. "Obviously, this is going to impact Aaron. Aaron will probably be a guy now that will play a few different positions to see some playing time."

Manager Eric Wedge said that Boone would see time around the infield.

"Boone's going to be more a utility role now," Wedge said. "I've talked to Aaron about this, I've had multiple discussions with him. He's one of the greatest pros I've ever been around.

"He understands where we're at as a ballclub. He understands the situation with Andy. He's going to move around a bit in the infield, too. He'll be more versatile, in terms of other infield positions. Obviously, I think he's going to be a guy that helps all of our guys."

Marte hit .140 in 57 at-bats with the Braves last year; he struck out 13 times and had three extra-base hits. The Indians say they will be patient with Marte in what will be his first exposure to American League ball.

"The most important thing is that we help him come up and here and get comfortable," Wedge said. "I don't have high expectations for any young player when they come up here, because it's going to be an adjustment. There's going to be a learning curve. The game's so much quicker, there's so much more that goes on up here that it takes some players time to work their way in.

"And that's how we're going to handle it."

Andrew Bare is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.