Cleveland's disarming tale goes on Nagy is latest among injured


Maybe they should call them the River City Indians. There's just not enough trouble in Cleveland to fulfill this baseball team's destiny.

But general manager John Hart is no music man. Neither is manager Mike Hargrove. They're a couple of guys trying to make a go of it in the big leagues. And, so far, this year has been like one long dirty trick.

And that's saying a lot for a club that hasn't won a pennant in 39 years, a club that hasn't even contended since 1959.

It started in spring training with a boating accident that killed bullpen closer Steve Olin and middle reliever Tim Crews.

Starter Bob Ojeda was seriously injured in the accident and has yet to pitch. After feeling a twinge in his shoulder in March, Ojeda had to undergo arthroscopic surgery in April. He might be back around the All-Star break.

The Indians are struggling to put together a rotation. Cleveland has only three starters for sure: Dundalk's Mike Bielecki, Matt Young and Jose Mesa, the former Oriole who seems to have found a home with the Indians.

Charles Nagy is supposed to be the ace of the staff. But with a 2-5 record and a 6.31 ERA it has become clear that something is wrong with his right shoulder. Nagy felt some discomfort late last season but didn't want to make too much of it.

Now he has no choice. After throwing 22 pitches Saturday against the Milwaukee Brewers, Nagy was told to hit the showers. After being checked by a Milwaukee orthopedist, Nagy said: "The doctor told me my shoulder is weak. If I keep trying to do what I've been doing, it will get worse. He said to shut it down."

Like other clubs, Cleveland prefers to have a five-man rotation. So, any volunteers? Jeff Mutis, Tommy Kramer, Mark Clark and Cliff Young have tried. It's doubtful any of these pitchers are on your fantasy-league team. Most are just kids.

Dennis Cook, a starter last year who has been pitching well in the bullpen, has been tapped for the rotation and will start against Orioles Thursday.

Cleveland leads the big leagues in one important category: number of players on the disabled list. The Indians and Texas Rangers are tied for first place with seven each, but that doesn't count Nagy.

And five members of Cleveland's DL roster (not counting Nagy) are pitchers. There's reliever Ted Power plus starters Alan Embree, Dave Mlicki, Scott Scudder and Ojeda.

Scudder is on a rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Charlotte and soon might be activated. He has been recovering from a torn latissimus dorsi muscle behind the shoulder. It's an injury so rare in baseball that renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews says he has never seen one.

Yet another Cleveland first.

And apparently so is an outbreak of the shingles, a viral illness related to chickenpox that has struck Nagy and third-base coach Jeff Newman.

But don't think the Indians have nothing to look forward to -- check them out in batting practice. This team can't wait to get to the plate.

Albert Belle has been among the major-league homer leaders all year. The longest he has gone without a home run is a week. So far, he has 12 homers and 36 RBI. Earlier in the year, Carlos Baerga became the first player in big-league history to hit a home run from each side of the plate in the same inning.

Kenny Lofton is well on his way to succeeding Rickey Henderson as baseball's premier leadoff batter, and after being stuck behind Kent Hrbek in the Minnesota Twins' pecking order, Paul Sorrento is becoming a feared power hitter.

But if you need proof that teams don't win without pitching, consider this: In a recent five-game span, Cleveland averaged 5.6 runs and lost them all.

Maybe this is the real meaning of Indian summer.

Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad