So far Travis Fryman has looked identical to Matt Williams.
Williams was Cleveland's big-money acquisition last season. Fryman was the big-money man this year. Williams played third base. Fryman replaced him at third. Williams stunk in April. Now it's Fryman's turn.
"You see him pressing big-time to try to help this ballclub," Indians manager Mike Hargrove said. "Travis Fryman is a four-time All-Star. He needs to understand that he doesn't have to try to impress anybody. He just has to be Travis Fryman."
Fryman was acquired from the Diamondbacks for Williams shortly after the expansion draft in November. While not the power hitter Williams has been in his career, Fryman is a consistent run producer and is three years younger.
But after signing a five-year, $28-million deal with the Indians, Fryman has struggled to keep his average above .200. He has been dropped to the eighth and ninth spots in the lineup the past week.
"It doesn't matter where I'm hitting," Fryman said. "With the way I'm swinging, you're just happy to be in there somewhere."
THE DOCTOR IS OUT: Just as the Devil Rays hit town, Dwight Gooden is preparing to leave. The Indians right-hander and Tampa Bay native begins a 30-day rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Buffalo on Sunday.
Gooden, who injured his right shoulder during spring training, is expected to make at least three minor-league starts to work his way back into shape.
"We want to make absolutely certain that Doc is all right," Hargrove said. "We have three weeks to a month before we have to make a decision on Doc."
_ JOHN ROMANO