Marte already bound for minors
The 22-year-old third baseman is hitting .500 after coming to Cleveland from Boston.
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (AP) -- No matter how well Andy Marte hits under the hot sun of spring training, the Cleveland Indians already have him ticketed to go back to the minors.
"It's great to see him perform, but he's definitely going to [Triple-A] Buffalo," Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said Thursday before Marte went 1-for-2 in an exhibition win over Washington.
The 22-year-old third baseman is hitting .500 after coming to Cleveland in a deal with Boston in January that cost the Indians popular outfielder Coco Crisp. Five of his eight hits have been for extra bases, including a three-run homer Tuesday, when he went 4-for-4 against Toronto.
"The talent is obviously there, but we want him to get comfortable so that he doesn't think that he has to have a day like that all the time to impress," Shapiro said.
Marte also has dazzled in the field. Against the Nationals, he made a barehanded pickup of a slow roller and zipped the ball to first to get an out.
"I'm know I'm ready to play in the majors now, but I understand that Cleveland has a good third baseman," Marte said.
Veteran third baseman Aaron Boone is signed through this season with a mutual option for 2007. Marte's development obviously will affect Boone's future with the club.
"I hope Andy has a year in Buffalo where in six weeks everybody is asking, 'What about Marte?' " Shapiro said. "At the same time, hopefully Aaron has a good year and continues to make it a difficult decision for me."
Digesting it all
Shapiro said good performances by several young pitchers are making it tough for manager Eric Wedge to choose a final 25-man roster.
"Andrew Brown is competing for a bullpen spot and displayed very good stuff," Shapiro said of the hard-throwing right-hander who has struck out five in three scoreless innings. "He's a guy who will contribute in Cleveland at some point this season."
Shapiro noted that right-hander Fernando Cabrera earned a save for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. Pitching on an international stage should help the 24-year-old's progress, the GM said.
"I'm excited to see him do well in a meaningful game with the pressure of pitching for his country. We could not simulate that kind of atmosphere here," Shapiro said.
Cabrera went 6-1 with a 1.23 ERA at Triple-A Buffalo in 2005 and is Puerto Rico's closer, though he is being considered for a setup role in Cleveland.
Among young starters, Shapiro listed right-hander Fausto Carmona and former No. 1 picks Jeremy Sowers and Jeremy Guthrie as making the most early progress.
Outfielder Jason Dubois, acquired from the Cubs last July, is among several position players that Shapiro said have helped their standing in the organization.