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Published: Sunday, 7/29/2001

Colon will drop appeal so team can focus

BY RON MUSSELMAN
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

DETROIT - Cleveland Indians right-hander Bartolo Colon dropped his appeal yesterday and started serving his six-game suspension for throwing at the head of Houston Astros catcher Scott Servais on July 17.

“We need to continue to play solid playing solid, fundamental baseball and the organization does not need any off-field distractions,” Colon said in a statement released yesterday before the Indians played the Detroit Tigers in a day-night double-header at Comerica Park.

“Most importantly, we all need to remain focused to accomplish our goal of winning the World Series.”

Colon, 10-7 with a 4.39 ERA, had won four consecutive games. He is expected to make his next start Friday against the Seattle Mariners.

In spring training, Tigers manager Phil Garner told Robert Fick that he no longer would be a catcher.

That left Fick's future with the team in doubt.

“It's almost like everybody had kind of forgotten about me,” Fick said yesterday.

That's not possible anymore.

While Mitch Meluskey (right shoulder) out for the year and highly-regarded backstop Brandon Inge (dislocated left shoulder) on a rehabilitation assignment with the Gulf Coast League Tigers, Fick has emerged as Detroit's everyday catcher.

Fick, 27, leads the Tigers in homers (17) and was batting .301 through Friday.

“Catching every day has been like a dream come true for me,” Fick said. “One of my goals coming into the season was to be the starting catcher.”

Ellis Burks is eligible to come off the disabled list Tuesday.

“I think he'll be ready,” manager Charlie Manuel said.

Burks has been sidelined with a hairline fracture of his right thumb since July 16, but he has resumed taking batting practice this weekend.

In 78 games, Burks is batting 290, with 22 homers and 55 RBIs.

Tigers center fielder Roger Cedeno already has turned down a three-year, $13.5 million offer from the team.

Aside from a better offer, Cedeno said he wants to make sure the Tigers are committed to winning before he signs a long-term deal.

Cedeno said yesterday that he is prepared to become a free agent at the end of the season. However, he also could be dealt before the 4 p.m. trading deadline Tuesday.

“I'm not going to make this team good by myself,” Cedeno said. “They need more than a leadoff hitter. They know what to do. They know how to put a winning team in there. It costs money.”

Cedeno extended his hitting streak to five games in the opener yesterday. He is 7-for-24 and batting .292 during that stretch.

Indians left-hander Chuck Finley has made two trips to the disabled list. Now, he is trying to work his way back.

Finley, bothered by an inflamed disc in his neck as well as a nerve irritation in his left shoulder, threw in a 30-minute bullpen session Friday at Comerica Park and reported no ill effects.

Finley, 38, is scheduled to make a rehabilitation start for Triple-A Buffalo tomorrow, then will start at Double-A Akron next Saturday.

Finley has not won a game for the Indians since May 12, when he raised his record to 4-2 and lowered his ERA to 3.75. In five starts since, he is 0-2 with a 14.58 ERA, having allowed 27 earned runs in 162/3 innings.

Backup catcher Eddie Taubensee finally has rejoined the Tribe's 25-man roster after nearly one and a half months.

Taubensee was placed on the disabled list June 19 with what was called a viral infection. At the time, his liver was inflamed. And his normal enzyme count of 50 was all the way up to 2,300.

“It was a mystery disease,” Taubensee said. “I couldn't eat that much. I was tired all the time. I took two-hour naps with my boys every day.

“I was just really run down, and with my liver being swollen, I was feeling really cramped. My back was hurting because my liver was pushing on my ribs. I just had to wait it out.”

Catcher Tim Laker was designated for assignment Friday to clear a roster spot for Taubensee, who was 1-for-5 in yesterday's first game, a 6-4 Indians victory.

Indians third baseman Russell Branyan went 0-for-3 in the first game yesterday with two strikeouts. The slugger has struck out in 60 of 67 games and has 97 strikeouts for the year. ... Detroit starter Victor Santos matched his longest outing of the season yesterday, working six innings. he gave up five hits, walked six and struck out five. ... Damion Easley hit Detroit's league-leading 39th triple of the season in the opener and their third is as many games. Easley said the negative vibes around Comerica Park are simply par for the course of being on a team that's en route to an eighth consecutive losing season. “It all speaks for itself,” Easley said. “There's a lot of friction that happens when you lose. Nobody likes to be associated with losing, especially time and time and time again. I don't feel like it's got anything to do with Phil; it's got everything to do with how we perform on the field.”



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