Tribe's closer situation looks tenuous

Tribe's closer situation looks tenuous

CHICAGO -- Several times over the past two seasons, Indians manager Eric Wedge has been given the opportunity to fully endorse Joe Borowski as his closer in the wake of a blown save.

On Wednesday, though, Wedge didn't take that opportunity.

In giving up an Alexei Ramirez solo homer and Orlando Cabrera's RBI single in the 10th inning of a 3-2 loss to the White Sox on Tuesday night, Borowski blew his fourth save of the season and his second since coming off the disabled list on May 23.

Wedge was asked if he would consider other closing options. Cryptic words followed.

"I had a feeling that question would come up," Wedge said. "We've got an off-day [Thursday]. We're going to be meeting. We're going to be talking. We've got a lot of things that we've got to work through right now. We'll be working on the off-day to try to solidify some things, make some decisions and go from there."

Wedge was not planning on turning to Borowski if a save situation presented itself Wednesday, because the right-hander had worked the previous two games.

If a move is made at closer, right-hander Masa Kobayashi would be the most likely candidate to get the job. With a 3.15 ERA in his first season in the Major Leagues, Kobayashi has become a go-to setup option for Wedge's beleaguered bullpen.

Then again, Wedge has to be careful with his use of the 34-year-old Kobayashi. He's among the American League leaders in appearances (38) and relief innings pitched (40), and he only worked 47 1/3 innings in Japan last year.

Would Kobayashi, who is 4-for-6 in save situations this season, be considered for the closer role?

"I'm not going to speculate on that right now," Wedge said. "It doesn't do anybody any good."

Nor did Wedge wish to overstate the importance of Thursday's meeting with his coaching staff and his expected conversation with general manager Mark Shapiro, who is not on this road trip.

"Don't make a bigger deal of it than what it is," Wedge said. "It's a day off, and it's a good time to take a look at everything and go from there. It's not a 'drop dead' date, by any stretch of the imagination."

Still, the fact that Wedge didn't come right out and say the veteran Borowski, who led the AL with 45 saves last season, still is the closer was telling, in and of itself.

Borowski could not be found for comment after the Indians came off the field from pregame stretching on Wednesday. In recent weeks, he's felt much better about his stuff, which had sagged early in the season when he was dealing with a right triceps strain. Since his return from the DL, Borowski is 4-of-6 in save opportunities, posting a 4.26 ERA in 12 2/3 innings of work.

Work has been difficult to come by for Borowski, who has had just four save opportunities in the past month.

On Tuesday night, he did not wish to blame his defeat on the idle time.

"I'm not one to make excuses," Borowski said. "When you get opportunities, you've got to convert them, whether it's every day or every two weeks."

Borowski's struggles are far from the only problem plaguing the Indians, who have plummeted out of contention in the AL Central by dropping 13 games in the standings since May 16.

"In general," Wedge said, "we've got a lot of questions that need to be answered. We're taking it day to day with everything we do. We've had some tough times, and we're working hard to fight through it."

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