Indians' Hagadone Finds Success In Relief Role





CLEVELAND — Last year's trade of Victor Martinez to the Red Sox earned the Indians plenty of criticism, but in the long run it may be the move that bolsters the Tribe's bullpen for the future.

Not only could current starter Justin Masterson ultimately end up in the bullpen, but so too might minor league starter-turned-reliever Nick Hagadone.

And while acquiring two players for the bullpen likely was not the front office's master plan, that appears to be the way the trade is shaping up, with righthander Masterson going 4-12, 5.33 in 25 major league starts this season and the lefty Hagadone recently moving into the Double-A Akron bullpen. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Hagadone continues the long recovery from Tommy John surgery in 2008.

"There's something to be said about a pitcher's mindset," Akron pitching coach Greg Hibbard said, "The way they're wired. (Hagadone's) probably best suited as a bullpen guy mentality-wise because he's very high intensity, he's got a lot of effort in his delivery and he labors at times to repeat his delivery."

It's a move that paid immediate dividends, as Hagadone was 1-0, 2.40 out of the Akron bullpen.
Despite his recent success, Hagadone estimates his command is still only at 85 percent.

"My stuff hasn't gotten back to where I feel it should be or where it has been in the past," he said. "But it has been better out of the pen. And the last couple of weeks I've kind of made some pretty big strides."

He hasn't been able to put a finger on exactly why, but Hagadone said his stuff simply plays better as a reliever.

"I don't know if it's just the change of scenery, or that I was thinking about it too much or the mindset of just being able to go out there and give it everything I've got right away for two innings," he said. "But for some reason I've pitched better out of the bullpen and that's good."

SMOKE SIGNALS

• The Indians acquired minor league righthander Zach McAllister from the Yankees to complete the trade that sent outfielder Austin Kearns to the Bronx for a player to be named. The 22-year old was 8-10, 5.09 in 24 starts at Triple-A Scranton.

• Righthander Jason Knapp did not allow a hit and struck out seven in four solid innings in his first start at low Class A Lake County. Acquired last year in the trade that sent Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco to Philadelphia, Knapp had right shoulder arthroscopic surgery soon after the deadline deal and just began pitching again in a full-season league.