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Fits and Starts
Tom Verducci
July 23, 2001
For heavy-hitting Cleveland to catch the division-leading Twins, its erratic rotation has to stop throwing away wins
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July 23, 2001

Fits And Starts

For heavy-hitting Cleveland to catch the division-leading Twins, its erratic rotation has to stop throwing away wins

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Hart says he traded relievers Steve Karsay and Steve Reed to get Rocker only after canvassing several players on the volatile lefty. Hart says he received unanimous support for the deal. Alomar, whom Manuel consulted regarding the trade, says, "I told the manager, 'You do what you think you need to do. If you think he can help the team, you do what you think is right.' "

The trick for Rocker will be to assimilate in midstream into a multiethnic team and a heretofore reliable bullpen. By week's end he had been relegated to co-closer with righty Bob Wickman, whom he had initially displaced. "His control, that's the big problem," Manuel says of Rocker. "He's got to throw strikes. He may need a settling-in period. I'm not going to give up on him."

Rocker, a notorious talker when he's in the mood, told a Cleveland official after the Saturday-afternoon game that he had nothing to say to the media. He dressed without a teammate's speaking to him, then sat alone clipping his fingernails as the clubhouse emptied. "You have to get a feel for how can you approach him," Burba said. "I haven't been around him enough to have that comfort to say something to him."

Rocker, dressed in a black sport coat and black shirt open at the collar, left the clubhouse alone and continued unaccompanied down a long concrete tunnel to the team bus. Everyone but Alomar was already on board. The second half officially was in motion for the Indians. They were bound for Houston and, beyond that, only as far as their pitching would allow.

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