For anybody out there who believed last Wednesday's entry concerning Aaron Laffey being right where he belongs - the major leagues - was a Hometown Boy Special, it's well past time to discover some new beliefs as Laffey, while still looking for his first big-league win of the season, continues to consistently get big-league hitters out.

After taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning last week against the - ahem - New York Yankees, Laffey made his second start with the Indians last Sunday against the Kansas City Royals. All he did was work seven innings without giving up an earned run. He gave up four hits, walked just two and struck out five. Still, the Indians bats remain in a slumber and all Laffey has to show for his efforts thus far - despite an earned-run average of 2.84 - is two losses.

Against the Royals, Laffey faced 28 batters and had 20 first-pitch strikes, which rounds out to 71 percent. Also, 70 of his 103 pitches were strikes (just under 70 percent) and lefthanders were 0-for-12 against him, with all major-league opponents he's faced this year hitting a collective .149 against him.

I don't know about you, but I'll take that in my starting rotation.

"Aaron was outstanding," said Indians manager Eric Wedge, who admitted he is contemplating some changes in his batting order. "I was very impressed with the way he pitched today ... That's pretty real stuff."

"It was great to be able to hit my spots and keep hitters off-balance. My biggest thing is control," Laffey said. "As long as I have that, I can be successful anywhere. I'm more comfortable and more confident knowing I have the ability to pitch up here. I'm happy to have the chance to prove it."

One beat writer for the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote in his account of Sunday's game, "If only Laffey knew how to hit."

Well, actually, Laffey was a career .521 hitter for Coach Duane McMinn and the Allegany Campers, so he knows how to hit, but we're pretty certain that's not one of the changes to the lineup Wedge is considering.

"The last thing you can do is hang your head and feel sorry for yourself and start worrying about things you can't control," Wedge said of his team's season-long hitting woes, which find the Tribe carrying a .242 team batting average, the second-lowest in the American League. "Each offensive player, to a man, needs to continue to evaluate himself, work hard, look in the mirror and try to show some sense of confidence in regards to what he needs to do with his game."

On Tuesday, the Indians designated outfielder Jason Michaels for assignment and recalled Ben Francisco from Triple-A Buffalo. Michaels was batting .207, while Francisco batted .346 in spring training but didn't make Cleveland's roster. This is his second stint with the club this season.

General manager Mark Shapiro said he had to try something to spark his club.

"One move is not going to solve our offensive woes," he said. "Jason Michaels certainly wasn't the primary cause of them. When you have five to seven guys struggling, you can't make one or two moves and solve the problem. The answer has to come from within.

"Our primary focus is on getting the players here turned around and performing at the levels we expect them to perform at."

Lefthander Aaron Laffey, who is expected to get his third start this weekend at home against Toronto, is certainly performing at the level he expects himself to perform. As he said last week, he can't control the uncontrollable. All he can do is his best. And right now there isn't a club in the big leagues that wouldn't take his best.

No, not Pacman

Orioles centerfielder Adam Jones still makes a lot of mistakes, but that is to be expected as this is the first time he's been given the opportunity to play every day in the big leagues. Still, he does so many natural and instinctive things so well, and has so many God-given baseball tools, Orioles fans are going to enjoy watching his development continue.

We talk of God-given tools, such as the gun he carries on his right side and calls an arm. Then we talk about natural and instinctive, such as the throw he made Monday night behind an Oakland baserunner going halfway on a flyball to center. The throw came from deep center and nearly doubled off the guy. Jones didn't believe the runner was really going to third, and he was right. So he threw to second and nearly got another out. Like his God-given physical baseball skills, this kind of instinct can't be taught.

Adam Jones is going to be a baseball player, all right - the kind of baseball player a team can build around for years to come.

Contact Mike Burke at

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