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Title belt offers Tribe another incentive

Title belt offers Tribe another incentive

CLEVELAND -- The Indians have a little something more to play for from here on out.

Jerry "The King" Lawler -- former professional wrestler and current commentator for World Wrestling Entertainment -- delivered, at the request of designated hitter Travis Hafner, a WWE championship belt to the Tribe clubhouse before Tuesday's game. The belt, Lawler said, is an exact replica of the belt given to the WWE's finest, with the notable difference being the gold plate with an "Indians" inscription.

"After every win," Lawler announced, "the Player of the Game will be given the belt. At the end of the year, whoever wins the belt the most will keep it."

But here's an early bit of controversy: Hafner is currently in charge of deciding the Player of the Game.

"I figure he'll win the belt a lot," Lawler said with a laugh.

Pronk joked that he might claim the belt on a night he goes 1-for-3 with a single. But he said he will institute a system whereby all members of the Tribe have their vote.

"I'm sure the majority will rule," Hafner said.

Two years ago, when the Indians won 96 games to claim the American League Central Division title, right fielder Trot Nixon began a tradition of slapping a whipped-cream pie in the face of the player of the game after home wins. Perhaps the belt will become the new tradition.

Lawler said he had to rearrange some travel plans earlier this week. He was originally scheduled to be in Cleveland on Sunday. So Cliff Lee, who took a no-hitter into the eighth inning of Sunday's game, missed out on the opportunity to become the first winner.

The belt is an impressive piece of work. Encrusted with gems and gold-plated, Lawler estimated that it's worth somewhere between $1,500 and $2,500.

Infielder Jamey Carroll took a particular liking to the belt. He was taking pictures of it to send to his brother, as both grew up in a house where professional wrestling was a regular source of entertainment. And Carroll, for one, liked the idea of adding a little more incentive to the Indians' season.

"It adds a little bit of character," he said.

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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