Boone Eager To Bust Batting Slump

Aaron Boone

Aaron Boone is not about to panic although Cleveland Indians fans are fretting over his slow start.<br><br> "This (a .129 batting average) is nothing I'm worried about, but it is a little frustrating," Boone said before the Indians' scheduled game Tuesday night against the Detroit Tigers was rained out.<br>

"Right now, Aaron needs to play," said Indians manager Eric Wedge, adding that he will give the third baseman every chance to work his way out of a 8-for-62 slump to start the season.

"Aaron Boone is our third baseman," Wedge said with emphasis to reporters who kept asking about when a change might be made. "You guys are quick to jump off here. Aaron is a solid teammate, a guy who cares, who works hard. He's going to be fine.

"He hit well in Florida and now his timing is a little off. That's happened to all the guys at once. We went from being hot to struggling at the same time."

The 31-year-old hit .350 with three homers and 15 RBIs in 19 spring training games.

Boone, who missed all of the 2004 season and had two operations on his left knee during that time, believe it is just a matter of time -- or timing -- until he hits.

"The good thing and the bad thing is that I've been down this road before," he said. "Quite frankly, I've not had one good start in my career. I've had some good Aprils here and there, but without fail, my first 20, 30, 50 at bats have been ... not good."

Boone said the knee is fine, though he experiences the normal soreness any athlete will have for a period of time after surgery.

"Physically, I'm fine," Boone said.

Here are the revised pitching matchups for the rain-shortened series against Detroit at Jacobs Field. Both games are scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m.

RHP Jeremy Bonderman (2-2, 4.28 ERA) vs. RHP Jake Westbrook (0-4, 3.81 ERA)

RHP Mike Maroth (1-1, 4.03 ERA) vs. RHP Kevin Millwood (0-2, 3.91 ERA)

lost at Syracuse, 10-9, despite home runs by Jake Gautreau, John Rodriguez and Ryan Garko, who went 3-for-4 to break out of a long slump. Rodriguez hit a two-run homer, his second, in the top of the ninth to tie the score, 9-9. The Sky Chiefs' Aaron Hill hit a one-out homer in the bottom half off Chad Zerbe (3-2) to win it. Garko, who lifted his average to .232, hit his second homer in the third inning. Gautreau hit his fifth, a two-run shot, in the fourth as the Bisons built a 6-0 lead. Buffalo starter Kyle Denney gave it all back, allowing six runs and 10 hits over 4 1/3 innings. Kaz Tadano gave up three more runs in 2 2/3 innings before Zerbe took over. Syracuse had 14 hits, including five homers. Brandon Phillips (.230) and Andy Abad (.241) each had two of Buffalo's 11 hits, but Jeff Liefer went 0-for-5 to drop his average to .186.

CLASS A AKRON (10-7) routed visiting Bowie, 15-6, in a "school day" game that started in the morning after the Aeros got only one hit the previous night. Jon Van Every (.222) went 3-for-5 and hit a grand slam and Jason Cooper (.172) went 2-for-4, with a two-run homer, scored three runs and also drove in four for the Aeros. Franklin Gutierrez (1-for-3, .255) and Jose Morban (1-for-4, .254) also scored three runs apiece for Akron, which led 15-1 after four innings. Jake Dittler (2-1, 2.22 ERA) allowed nine hits but only one run over seven innings. Lefty reliever Mariano Gomez continued to struggle, giving up three hits, three walks and four runs in just two-thirds of an inning to put his ERA at 15.00. Bowie pitchers did not take kindly to the walloping, as they hit four Akron batters (Cooper, Pat Osborn, Michael Aubrey and Armando Camacaro) with pitches.

CLASS A KINSTON (11-6) crushed visiting Lynchburg, 10-0, as Nate Panther hit a grand slam and Ryan Mulhern a two-run homer. Jeremy Sowers (3-1, 2.91 ERA) pitched five perfect innings, striking out eight. Only one ball was hit to the outfield against the left-hander, who was Cleveland's first round pick a year ago. Lynchburg's first hit was a single leading off the seventh inning against Sean Smith, who had relieved Sowers to start the sixth. Smith gave up two hits and one walk over three scoreless innings, striking out three and lowering his ERA to 1.91. Edward Mujica gave up one hit in a scoreless ninth. Mulhern (2-for-4, .370) hit his third homer and scored four runs. Panther (3-for-5, .254) hit his fifth homer and tied Mulhern with 13 RBI for the season. Kevin Kouzmanoff (.368), Brandon Pinckney (.213) and Dave Wallace (.268) all had two of Kinston's 16 hits.

CLASS A LAKE COUNTY (10-7) was rained out in Hagerstown when the sun did not shine on the Captains and hometown Suns.

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