Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Blessed are the optionless; Marte, Breslow make bid for final roster spots

Andy MartEE is seeking the final spot among the position players on the Tribe's roster.

With the Tribe tabbing Jorge Julio for a spot in the pen and sending Scott Elarton to Buffalo today, newly arrived lefty reliever Craig Breslow is in a similar situation out in the pen - battling Tom Mastny for the last musical chair out there.

Both MartEE and Breslow are out of options, meaning they would be subjected to waivers if the Tribe tried to send them to the minors.

That fact is not hurting their chances of making the final cut.

Neither is Breslow's left-handedness or the late-innings heroics from both players today.

MartEE hit a three-run shot today to put the Tribe ahead to stay in the eight inning of their 7-5 win over the Yankees.

Breslow, making his Tribe debut, pitched a perfect ninth inning, striking out two and picking up a save.

MartEE's homer helped the troubled infielder make up for two more errors in today's game, giving him six for the spring.

When he arrived in the Coco Crisp deal, MartEE was considered a top-notch third baseman.

With his awful spring in the field this year, you have to assume that MartEE's confidence has taken a nosedive or that he has been confused and distracted by the Tribe's efforts to turn him into a utility player, working him out at 1B and in the outfield.

MartEE also came with the reputation of being a potential impact hitter, albeit one who is streaky.

He sure has been just that this spring.

He has five homers in Florida. But if you eliminate today's game, and a game against Washington in which he hit two homers and had six RBIs, MartEE is hitting .204 this spring.

A guy who can't play one position in the field, let-alone several, and who is a streaky hitter unlikely to do well coming off the bench cold, is not an ideal candidate for the utility player role. But that is what you are likely to see with MartEE.

You have to assume Breslow will get a couple more innings in the Tribe's last four games to give the Tribe's brass something to go on. But his trump card is the team's desire to give Eric Wedge two lefties to play with out of the bullpen.

The roster had been expected to be in place by Thursday, when the Tribe breaks camp. But Wedge now says final roster decisions may not come until this weekend.

So maybe it's not as cut-and-dried as it seems.

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