WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- It's difficult to determine which of Brian Slocum's two jobs keeps him busier these days. In the mornings, he's a promising Indians pitching prospect gearing up for the 2007 season. In the afternoons, he's pulling out his clippers and fulfilling his duties as the quasi-official team barber.
"I've [cut the hair of] basically the whole coaching staff," Slocum said. "But I haven't done [manager Eric] Wedge. I'm working my way up." Slocum hopes to work his way back up to the big leagues at some point this season. For now, he's slated to begin the year in the Triple-A rotation, where he'll look to take advantage of the lessons learned from two respectable starts in the Majors at the tail end of '06. After posting a 6-3 record and 3.35 ERA in 27 appearances, including 15 starts, at Triple-A Buffalo last season, the right-handed Slocum was a September callup to the Tribe. He made one start in Texas and one at home against Tampa Bay, going 0-0 with a 1.80 ERA in 10 2/3 innings. He also made six appearances out of the Cleveland bullpen during the year, but the starts are what stand out. "I'm happy with how I finished the season," Slocum said. "I answered some questions I had about how it's going to be to pitch in the big leagues, how it feels to start on the road and at home. But I still have a long way to go." As a member of a Bisons rotation that will probably include Indians sixth starter Fausto Carmona and top prospect Adam Miller, Slocum will have his work cut out for him if he wants to distinguish himself. But the Indians were impressed last fall by Slocum's command of his fastball, which he ran up as high as 97 mph in the start against the Rays. "Against Tampa Bay, in that last inning, I knew it was my last inning of the season, and I got kind of jazzed up there," he said. That was the last of many innings Slocum logged over the course of 2005-06. He pitched in the Arizona Fall League after the '05 season, participated in the Tribe's winter development program the following January and was in big-league camp for the first time last February. Needless to say, he welcomed the break last October. "This was my first official offseason, and I needed it," he said. "I really feel good now." The lid-lifter: After a slight rain delay, the Indians took the field for their first of two intrasquad games on Tuesday afternoon. For the stat geeks scoring at home, the not-so-creatively named Team A defeated Team B, 5-4, with left-hander Scott Lewis getting the victory and left-hander Chuck Lofgren taking the loss. Offensive highlights included Travis Hafner's powerful shot off the right-field foul pole for a solo home run off Ed Mujica in the top of the third inning and Jason Michaels' solo homer to left off Rafael Perez in the bottom of the third. Catcher Wyatt Toregas impressed with a two-run double to left off Lofgren in the fifth. Defensively, the game was somewhat of a mess, as David Dellucci and Shin-Soo Choo each dropped a ball in left, Ryan Garko dropped one at first, and Luis Rivas and Keith Ginter each booted a ball in the infield. But Wedge was hardly going to fret about the defensive miscues. "That's why we have these intrasquad games," Wedge said. "It's for the pitchers, but it's also to get those guys out there and get their feet wet again." On the bright side defensively, Casey Blake started at third base and made two outstanding picks of hard-hit grounders in the first inning.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.