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Indians notebook: Manager suspended, fined

DETROIT - Cleveland Indians manager Charlie Manuel got an unscheduled rest for his team's final two games against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.

Manuel was suspended for two games - last night and tonight - and fined an undisclosed amount of money yesterday by Frank Robinson, baseball's vice president of on-field operations.

Manuel was cited for excessive arguing and returning to the playing field after being ejected during a bench-clearing incident involving the Indians and Tigers a week ago at Cleveland's Jacobs Field.

Manuel originally had been tossed from last Wednesday's game for arguing a disputed home run call involving a ball hit by Wil Cordero.

Manuel refused to disclose his fine, but former New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine was suspended for two days and fined $5,000 for a similar incident two years ago in which he returned to the dugout wearing a disguise.

Bench coach Grady Little will serve as the Tribe's manager in Manuel's absence. Little also managed the Indians twice last year when Manuel was undergoing tests.

Manuel said he wouldn't appeal the decision. He also said he didn't regret his actions.

“I went out as a peacemaker in that situation, and I thought that was understandable,” Manuel said yesterday. “I have to do that. That's part of my job. You can't sit in the clubhouse when your team is in a fight.”

BULLPEN SHUFFLE: The bullpen-weary Indians recalled right-hander Jake Westbrook from Triple-A Buffalo yesterday, and optioned right-hander Roy Smith to the Bisons.

Westbrook, who made one appearance with the Indians earlier this season after Steve Woodard was placed on the disabled list, was 5-1 with a 2.58 ERA in seven starts at Buffalo.

Westbrook, expected to work as a long reliever, likely will be sent back to Buffalo this weekend when the Indians are expected to activate right-hander Charlie Nagy.

Nagy, who joined the team here last night, will throw on the side before tonight's game and maybe again later this week.

He recently completed a 30-day rehab assignment with the Bisons, compiling a 5-1 record and 2.65 ERA. He had allowed just four earned runs in his past 36 innings.

NICE ADDITION: The Indians would like to pull off more deals like the one that landed left-handed reliever Rich Rodriguez.

The 38-year-old Rodriguez, cast aside by the New York Mets during spring training, signed a minor-league contract with the Tribe on April 8.

The most appealing thing for the Indians is that they only had to pay $200,000, the big-league minimum, of Rodriguez's $1 million contract. The Mets are responsible for the $800,000 balance.

“It was a good deal for both of us because I really wanted out of New York,” he said.

In 14 appearances through Monday, Rodriguez was 2-1 with a 2.61 ERA and had fanned 12 batters in 101/3 innings. Opposing hitters were batting .238.

“Things are working out very nicely for me,” he said. “I am very happy.”

CHASING CECIL: First baseman Tony Clark was in the starting lineup once again for the Tigers last night.

He needs just one more start to move past Cecil Fielder (748) and into fifth-place on Detroit's all-time games played list at that position.

Norm Cash is Detroit's all-time leader with 1,912 games, followed by Hank Greenberg (1,019), Rudy York (945) and Lu Blue (894).

FEELING BETTER: All 33 of Dean Palmer's starts for the Tigers have come as a designated hitter. But now that Palmer has regained his hitting stroke - he has eight homers and 29 RBIs - he is starting to focus on playing the field again.

Detroit's third base substitutes, Jose Macias and Shane Halter, have been adequate, but not great. Palmer has taken ground balls a handful of times in the past week and said he's going to “keep stretching it out gradually, trying to get to the point where I can throw 120 feet on a line.”

Palmer hopes to begin the complete throwing program Friday, proving he experiences no pain between now and then.

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