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Smith sent to Triple-A to work on sinker

Smith sent to Triple-A to work on sinker

CLEVELAND -- Manager Manny Acta made it clear that Monday's transaction, in which Hector Ambriz was activated to the bullpen and Joe Smith was demoted to Columbus, was more about getting a look at Ambriz and less about correcting Smith.

But that's not to say Smith didn't have areas for improvement. He had an inconsistent spring camp, and that led to a disappointing first month of the 2010 season. Smith made nine appearances, posting an 0-1 record and 7.71 ERA. Over seven innings, he allowed six runs on seven hits with six walks and five strikeouts. While the side-armer was surprisingly effective against left-handers (1-for-8), right-handers hit .333 (6-for-18) off him. Also alarming was his groundball-to-flyball ratio of 0.40.

"We told Joe to go down, get that sinker going and get ground balls," Acta said "He's a ground-ball pitcher, and he needs to get ground balls. We felt he could work through this up here. But sometimes the game works against you when you have [Minor League] options. The main thing with this move is Hector."

The 26-year-old Smith was acquired from the Mets before the 2009 season. He was a valuable arm in setup situations for New York, but his 2009 season here was plagued by injuries. When he did pitch last season, he was generally effective, posting a 3.44 ERA in 37 games.

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