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Notes: Cabrera's duties limited

Notes: Cabrera's duties limited

CLEVELAND -- He's become the bullpen's forgotten man.

Nine days have passed since Fernando Cabrera last pitched. And since June 3, the 25-year-old right-hander has seen action on just three occasions.

"It seems like there's always one guy who's left standing down there," manager Eric Wedge said. "When other people step up, ultimately you're going to step away from others."

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This bout of inactivity comes just as Cabrera looks to finally have begun to figure things out. So the question that arises is, what is Cabrera's role?

Wedge isn't comfortable using Cabrera in a meaningful situation right now. And even in a couple recent blowouts, he wasn't called upon.

Still, Wedge said, "If we felt like he was leaving us short, we would make a move."

While the Minor Leagues clearly would offer the best opportunity for him, Cabrera is out of options, so the Tribe must wait patiently for the man with the high-90s fastball and a devastating slider.

This is the guy, after all, who opened the year by throwing 10 2/3 straight scoreless innings. And after working his way out of the picture, Cabrera has offered some recent hope. Over his last seven innings, largely in mop-up duty, he's only allowed one run.

"His outings have been better," pitching coach Carl Willis said. "[He's made] more quality pitches and he's been more aggressive. I think he's headed in the right direction."

Before they work him back into a meaningful role, however, there needs to be some assurance that he's mentally ready this time.

"We have to be careful," Willis said, "as far as working in that direction again and not pushing him too fast."

Here's the question: C.C. Sabathia became the first pitcher in the big leagues to reach 12 wins on Saturday. Can you name the last Tribe pitcher to reach that mark before July 1?

Playing around: A crowd of six players gathered around the "RBI Baseball" Nintendo game in the Tribe's clubhouse early Sunday morning.

But then again, that's the norm these days. And for Sabathia, at least, it hasn't been winning that's produced the clubhouse camaraderie. Really, it's somewhat the other way around.

"It's so much fun when you like guys and you can root for them," Sabathia said. It's quite the contrast to the longest-tenured Indian's early days with the Tribe.

"That team in 2001, I don't want to say nobody liked each other," Sabathia said. "But it was just guys doing their own thing -- a lot of veterans -- some guys over here, some guys over there. I'm excited about our future here."

Tribe tidbits: The Indians' best start in eight years finally seems to be registering at the box office. Friday night's walkup crowd of 5,880 was the third largest in Jacobs Field history, while Saturday's walkup of 5,139 was ninth largest. ... The Tribe has an extra day off after the All-Star break, but not an extra day of vacation. Before resuming play on Friday, July 13, at home against Kansas City, the team will hold a late-afternoon workout Thursday at The Jake. ... Ben Francisco got his second career start Sunday, hitting eighth and spelling Trot Nixon and Franklin Gutierrez in right field. ... The Indians are 50-25 all-time against the Devil Rays.

On this date: In 1976, the Indians dusted the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens, 13-1, in a bizarre exhibition trip to Northwest Ohio. The day took an interesting twist when player-manager Frank Robinson flied out to center field, and while returning to the dugout, traded a few angry barbs with Toledo pitcher Bob Reynolds. Stunningly, Robinson then leveled Reynolds with a right-left combo and was ejected from the game.

Quotable: "Not yet. It's still too early, but we definitely know we're in first place." -- Sabathia, on the Tribe scoreboard watching

And the answer is: The last Tribe pitcher to win 12 games before July 1 was Gaylord Perry, who was 14-1 at that point in 1974. Perry also was the franchise's last 20-game winner.

Down on the farm: Triple-A Buffalo starter Aaron Laffey had a career-high nine strikeouts over 8 1/3 innings of one-run ball in the Bisons' 4-1 win at Rochester on Saturday night. Laffey's 10 wins tie him for third in all of the Minor Leagues. ... Rodney Choy Foo homered and delivered the game-winning hit, while Asdrubal Cabrera went 3-for-4 with three RBIs as Double-A Akron topped Erie, 7-6. Starter Chuck Lofgren gave up four runs on seven hits and four walks over just 4 2/3 innings. ... Class A Kinston's Frank Herrmann allowed two runs -- one earned -- on seven hits over six innings in the Indians' 5-2 victory over Winston-Salem. ... Class A Lake County's Carlton Smith, the reigning South Atlantic League player of the week, gave up five runs over 5 2/3 innings as the Captains fell, 5-2, to Delmarva. Top Draft pick Beau Mills is 1-for-7 since his big debut Thursday.

On deck: The Tribe will wrap up their series with the Devil Rays with the wraparound game of a four-game set Monday night at Jacobs Field. Fausto Carmona (8-3, 3.21 ERA) will be opposed by Tampa Bay right-hander Andy Sonnanstine (1-2, 6.58 ERA).

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

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