Rhodes leaves Indians for personal matter

CLEVELAND -- Indians reliever Arthur Rhodes has left the club because of a family illness and will miss the rest of Cleveland's season, a blow to baseball's best bullpen and the club's playoff chances.

"It's going to be tough without him," closer Bob Wickman said.
"He has been huge for us all year. We're definitely going to miss

Rhodes was in his first season with the Indians, who acquired him in a trade last December with Pittsburgh for outfielder Matt Lawton. The left-hander didn't pitch because of the personal matter from Aug. 2 to Sept. 3.

"He's had to deal with a great deal this year," Indians manager Eric Wedge said before Tuesday's game against the Oakland Athletics. "It's best for him and his family that he is with them."

Rhodes is married and has two daughters and a son. Wickman, a father of three, said he understood Rhodes' decision.

"If I was in the same situation, my family would come first
also," Wickman said. "We're all behind him."

Rhodes has helped Cleveland's bullpen become one of the majors' stingiest, one season after it was one of baseball's worst. The 35-year-old was primarily used as a setup man in the seventh and eighth innings and went 3-1 with a 2.08 ERA in 47 appearances. He was 0-for-3 in save opportunities.

Cleveland's relievers have the majors' lowest ERA (2.88).

"He was a big part of what the bullpen has accomplished this
year," Wedge said. "Obviously, we'll miss him."

Cleveland placed Rhodes on the bereavement list on Aug. 5, activated him on Aug. 12 and put him on the 15-day disabled list the next day with an inflamed right knee. He was activated on Sept. 2 and in three games, he allowed one run and one hit in 2 1/3 innings.

In Monday night's 2-0 loss to the A's, Rhodes walked one, gave up one hit, one run and hit a batter.

The Indians entered Tuesday's game with Oakland leading the AL wild-card race by one game over the New York Yankees and 1½ over the A's. They'll miss Rhodes even more if they hang on and qualify for the postseason.

He pitched in nine playoff games and 11 league championship series games for Baltimore and Seattle.

The Indians managed to cope well while Rhodes was sidelined, especially lefty Scott Sauerbeck. He didn't allow a run in 13 games
when Rhodes was out.

"It's been a team effort," Wickman said. "Guys have been stepping up all year."

Earlier this season, Rhodes, who has 75 career victories, made his 500th lifetime appearance. He also made his first error in 417 games.