Notes: Hernandez likes teaching role

Notes: Hernandez embraces role

KANSAS CITY -- Reliever Roberto Hernandez is truly the graybeard of the Indians.

"I'm gray everywhere," Hernandez said, laughing.

Hernandez, 42, is in his 16th Major League season, debuting in 1992 with the White Sox, and his 22nd professional season.

"At one time, I thought it would be my arm," said Hernandez, referring to what would lead him to retire.

Now, he said, it will be his body after having knee surgery last year.

Hernandez signed with the Indians on Dec. 2 to help the bullpen, which was the club's Achilles' heel last year.

"Right now, I'm enjoying every moment," Hernandez said. "I'm enjoying every time I go out there. I'm enjoying the camaraderie we have on this team. Just coming to the ballpark every day is fun. There are a lot of young guys here with talent, and they are hungry. Last year, I think it humbled them."

After winning 93 games in 2005, the Indians fell to 78-84 and to fourth place last year. Hernandez, who is 22 appearances shy of 1,000, is a fountain of knowledge for younger pitchers.

"I've been in a teacher's role ever since I was in Kansas City, even when I was in Tampa Bay, so that is nothing new to me," Hernandez said. "We have a fine group here that is willing to listen."

Hernandez warns younger players about the power of the media.

"They can build you up too high, like Superman," Hernandez said. "I'm not as good as they wrote, and definitely not as bad as they wrote."

Hernandez, who is used primarily as the setup man for closer Joe Borowski, has 326 saves, ranking 11th on baseball's all-time list.

"I'd trade every [save] for a World Series ring," Hernandez said. "You play this game to be a champion. I've never been to a World Series. I came close last year with the Mets, but we lost in the seventh game to the Cardinals in the playoffs."

Extra effort: David Dellucci is hitting .156 in his past nine games and .208 with four RBIs in May. Overall this season, his average is .227 with one home run and seven RBIs.

Dellucci does not have to be reminded of the numbers.

"It is becoming a mental issue," Dellucci said. "Everybody goes through this [a slump]. You don't want to go through it very long. I've been hitting extra, watching video, been comparing my swing to last year and '05. I'm not doing anything different on film from years before. You name it, I've done it.

"I've tried different pairs of underwear, different routes to the ballpark. I'm superstitious. I have new cleats today for batting practice. I've tried everything. I tend to look at things in a negative way, instead of a positive way. I'm my hardest critic, my toughest coach. I'm with a new team, new fans, and I want to go out and impress everybody. I think it's to the point people are starting to feel sorry for me. I'll snap out of it."

Here's the question: Grady Sizemore and Casey Blake led off the game Wednesday against the Royals with home runs. Who was the last pair of Cleveland hitters to start a game with home runs?

Tribe tidbits: The Indians signed 2006 48th-round draft pick, pitcher Travis Turek, out of Los Angeles Pierce College. The Tribe also signed two non-drafted fifth-year college seniors -- outfielder Justin Jenkins (West Virginia University) and catcher Osiel Flores (Texas-Pan America). Jenkins hit .372 with 21 doubles, 11 home runs and 48 RBIs this season and set eight school records. He had a .369 career average at West Virginia. ... Six of Travis Hafner's nine home runs have been on the road. ... The Indians are 21-4 when they lead after seven innings. ... On the 11,002 all-time home runs hit by the Indians, 282 have been grand slams and 6,178 solo shots. ... Victor Martinez singled in the first inning Thursday, extending his hitting streak to six games. He has reached safely in 32 of his 38 games.

Down on the farm: Top pitching prospect Adam Miller was shut down from a Thursday start for Triple-A Buffalo with middle-finger soreness after he warmed up in the bullpen. He was held out of his previous start with the injury. ... Buffalo outfielder Ben Francisco is hitting .348, which ranks second in the International League and is the highest average in the Indians' farm system. ... Double-A Akron second baseman Argenis Reyes is 13-for-13 in stealing bases. ... Akron left-hander Chuck Lofgren, a 2004 fourth-round pick, struck out five on Wednesday in a 6-2 victory over Altoona. He leads the organization with 51 strikeouts. He is 4-3 with a 3.75 ERA in nine starts. ... Class A Lake County right-hander Steve Wright has struck out 50 batters in 40 1/3 innings, averaging 11.25 strikeouts per nine innings.

And the answer is: Chris Magruder and Omar Vizquel led off the July 21, 2002, game at Kansas City with home runs.

On deck: Right-hander Paul Byrd (4-1, 3.55 ERA) and Tigers left-hander Nate Robertson (4-3, 3.62) are the pitching probables for Friday night's game in Detroit.

Alan Eskew is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.