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Indians bulk up staff, getting Smiley from Reds

August 1, 1997 GMT

CLEVELAND (AP) _ The Cleveland Indians got help for their ailing rotation Thursday, acquiring left-hander John Smiley from Cincinnati and right-hander Jeff Juden from Montreal.

In the afternoon, the Reds sent Smiley and backup infielder Jeff Branson to Cleveland for pitchers Danny Graves, Jim Crowell and Scott Winchester and infielder Damian Jackson.

Minutes before the midnight EDT trading deadline, the Indians completed a deal to get Juden for rookie pitcher Steve Kline.

The Indians, with three starting pitchers out with injuries, are trying to regroup from their worst homestand since Jacobs Field opened in 1994. Cleveland still leads the weak AL Central despite going 4-10 the past two weeks. The Anaheim Angels completed a four-game sweep Wednesday night with a 5-2 win over Cleveland.

``The message we wanted to send to this club is: `We believe in you. We’ve seen you play. We think you needed help, and we’re giving it to you,‴ Indians general manager John Hart said after the Smiley deal.

Cleveland is waiting for Jack McDowell, Chad Ogea and Brian Anderson to come back from injuries that forced journeyman Terry Clark and rookies Jaret Wright and Bartolo Colon into the rotation.

Hart coveted Curt Schilling of Philadelphia and Kevin Appier of Kansas City.

``I don’t think there’s any question that John Smiley is the guy we wanted when we realized Curt Schilling and Kevin Appier were not available,″ Hart said.

Juden, 26, is 11-5 with a 4.22 ERA for the Expos. Kline, 24, was 3-1 with a 5.81 ERA in 20 appearances.

The Reds lose the workhorse of their staff, but needed to shed the contract that will pay Smiley $3.75 million a year through 1999.

``The organization is going in a direction that requires us to get younger and cheaper,″ Reds general manager Jim Bowden said. ``We are getting four quality players who should help us in the future.″

Smiley, a 20-game winner with Pittsburgh in 1991, was 9-10 with a 5.23 ERA in 20 starts for the Reds. The streaky 32-year-old left-hander was 1-5 with an 8.19 ERA in April, but was 4-0 in five starts in July.

He has pitched all but one year of his 12-year big league career in the NL. He pitched seven shutout innings against Florida in his final start for the Reds Monday night.

``If I go to another team, I’ll be stuck there for two years,″ said Smiley, who accepted less money to sign with the Reds last September. ``It’ll probably be an American League team, and I’ve never liked the American League.″

Smiley will start Saturday night at Texas, the second game of an seven-day trip for Cleveland. Orel Hershiser, who has a sore groin, will be moved back to Tuesday.

Graves, a 24-year-old right-hander envisioned as an eventual closer, was 2-3 with a 4.19 ERA and two saves at Triple-A Buffalo. He had 19 saves in the minors in 1996. Jackson, 24, is a smooth-fielding shortstop with speed who can also play second base and the outfield. Both will report to Triple-A Indianapolis.

The Indians would have left Crowell, a right-hander, and Winchester, a lefty, unprotected in the expansion draft anyway.

Likewise, the Reds were going to lose Branson, a 30-year-old utility infielder who was designated for assignment July 22. Branson batted .153 in 65 games for Cincinnati.