By Tom Price Jr.

It was less than a cup of coffee, it was more like an espresso shot.

Former Exeter Monarch Jeriome Robertson pitched 5 2/3 innings of relief for the Cleveland Indians in a 15-5 loss on April 20 to the Kansas City Royals. Days later, the left-handed hurler was sent back to the minors.

Robertson, a 15-game winner for the Houston Astros a year ago, was acquired by Cleveland on March 31 and optioned to Triple-A Buffalo. After just one start with the Bisons, the left-hander was called to duty by Indians Manager Eric Wedge, who was desperate to provide relief, for his battered bullpen.

"I got to pitch five and two third innings and was tossed right into the fire," Robertson said. "I met [C.C. Sabathia] and he is an awesome guy and I met Omar Visquel, the team was great and they welcomed me with open arms."

The Royals hitters however, weren't so forgiving. Robertson, who entered the game with just one out in the second inning, surrendered eight runs. Only four of the eight runs were earned and all of them scored on a fifth inning grand slam by Matt Stairs following an intentional walk of Juan Gonzalez. The Royals won the game 15-5.

"I had to try and get ahead of [Stairs] with the bases loaded," Robertson said. "I wish I could have had a better opening day for the fans, I guess one pitch kind of ruined my showing but it is nice to be here."

Robertson was originally scheduled to make three to four starts with the Bisons before being considered for the big league club, but injuries and ineffectiveness called him to action. According to Robertson, Wedge and his staff decided yesterday to send him back to Buffalo to work on his velocity.

"During the course of [the game vs. Kansas City] I noticed that the hitters weren't being as aggressive on my off speed pitches and that is a good indication that my velocity was down and they weren't having to make adjustments to my fastball," Robertson said. "It is just a matter of getting into shape, I feel healthy, they don't want me to go up there until my arm is ready."

Robertson is behind the curve with his conditioning because he spent nearly all of Spring Training lost on a long list of pitchers for the Houston Astros. Houston's all-time leader in wins for a rookie pitched only 10 innings.

While he is not upset with his return to Buffalo, Robertson is determined to make sure his cup of coffee is still hot when he returns.

"I want my stuff to be at its best when I get up there, it was a good decision," Robertson said. "But it's awesome to be up there, and I am excited to see all the American League ballparks but I don't want to struggle."

Robertson's stay in Buffalo may be brief as well, with opposing batters hitting .310 against Indians relievers this year. Perhaps an indication of their dire need for arms, backup catcher Tim Laker pitched a scoreless eighth inning for the Indians in the April 20 loss to the Royals.

"I know they need pitching and I am ready, if they are losing games they are going to want the best guys up there," Robertson said. "They say they want me to be a starter overall, but if they need help in the bullpen I will do whatever it takes."

Robertson started his second game with Buffalo on Tuesday and pitched six innings for a win. He had two strikeouts and walked four in the Bisons 11-3 win over Rochester.

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