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Wedge seeking right order combo

Wedge seeking right order combo

CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Eric Wedge has a vision in his head of what his lineup should look like on a day-to-day basis, but the ongoing offensive struggles of his players have made that vision little more than a pipe dream.

"I won't give it to you, but I know the lineup I'd like to see happen," Wedge said before Monday's series opener with the White Sox. "But we've got to get there."

Instead, Wedge's lineups have been riding a wayward, unpredictable course all season. Grady Sizemore has batted first, Victor Martinez has batted fourth, and very little else has been stagnant.

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Wedge said he's really struggled with the Nos. 2 and 5 spots, and the numbers bear that out. Wedge has used eight different players at each of those spots.

On Monday, David Dellucci made his ninth start in the two-hole while filling in for Travis Hafner at designated hitter, and Michael Aubrey, who has been stealing more and more at-bats from Ryan Garko at first base, made his third start in the No. 5 spot.

Why has Wedge used so many different players at those two spots, in particular?

"It's tough to answer," he said, "because our club's never gotten itself going. We're still trying to find the personality we're going to be as an offensive unit. Until we do, it's going to be tough to settle into a lineup."

Wedge had the same struggle after the All-Star break last season, as his offense went into a six-week funk. Not until Asdrubal Cabrera established himself in the two-hole and Kenny Lofton began batting seventh in mid-August did the lineup really gel.

At this point, Wedge can only cross his fingers and hope he finds such a successful formula in 2008.

Cabrera began the year as the primary No. 2 hitter, but his ongoing struggles -- a .179 average, .239 slugging percentage and .275 on-base percentage entering Monday -- have relegated him to No. 9 duties.

Jhonny Peralta and Garko shared the No. 5 spot at the season's outset, but Peralta has hit nine homers and little else over the course of compiling a .219 batting average, and Garko has hit just .208 off right-handers.

For the season, the Indians are getting just a .201 batting average and .255 on-base percentage from the No. 2 spot entering the series against the White Sox. Both those numbers rank dead last in baseball. The average American League batting average from the No. 2 spot is .259 and the average on-base percentage is .314.

In the No. 5 spot, the Indians are getting a .239 batting average that is the fourth-worst in the AL and a .315 on-base percentage and .411 slugging percentage that rank fifth worst in the league.

Utility infielder Jamey Carroll is actually the team leader in starts from the No. 2 spot with 13. Peralta has made the most starts at No. 5 with 23.

"[No. 2 and No. 5 have] been tough," Wedge said. "Every year is different. In other years, we've known what we're going to do there and struggled with the [Nos.] 6 and 7 spots."

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

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