CLEVELAND -- No matter what the situation or the opponent, Nick Hagadone just couldn't command the strike zone.
After a great first two months of the season, the left-handed reliever was optioned to Triple-A Columbus on Saturday because of his recent struggles. Hagadone allowed two runs in two-thirds of an inning in the Indians' 10-3 loss Friday night. He had a 14.00 ERA in 11 appearances in June and July.
"Lack of command, and then the confidence, too," Indians manager Manny Acta said of Hagadone. "It's really tough for those guys to gain any type of confidence unless they're having success. Once the success went away a little bit because of a lack of command, then the lack of confidence kind of came in.
"Command of the fastball is the number one thing. He struggled to throw his off-speed [pitches] over the plate, which really helped the hitters to narrow from three pitches to just one. But he still has a pretty good fastball. If you can locate it and command it, you can get people out. He wasn't capable of doing that."
Earlier in the season, Hagadone looked like the answer to the Indians' left-handed bullpen problems. He posted an ERA of 2.20 in April and May while holding opponents to a .143 batting average.
But like southpaw Tony Sipp, Hagadone started to be inconsistent. The Indians have been without left-hander Rafael Perez all season due to a left lat injury, and they are still searching for a reliable replacement for him.
"It's been a bit of a struggle," Acta said. "We have really missed [Perez], who has been a mainstay there for so long. We had some spurts. Nick, earlier in the year, pitched well in that role. Tony, we're trying to find a way to get him back."
The Indians played with a short bullpen Saturday night against the Rays, and they plan to recall left-hander Scott Barnes from Columbus for Sunday's game. Barnes was in the team clubhouse on Saturday afternoon, but he couldn't be activated because he's required to be off the big-league roster for at least 10 days. Barnes last played for Cleveland on June 25.
"We're OK. Our guys are well rested," Acta said. "And if we get into any unexpected situations, we might be able to use one of those starters."