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MAGICAL WEEK THRILLS LOVULLO

Infielder Torey Lovullo was in uniform Friday at North AmeriCare Park. He accompanied the Buffalo Bisons to Pawtucket Saturday morning.

He can't return to the Herd lineup, however, until Monday night's series finale against the Pawsox.

Lovullo, one of the Bisons' main clubhouse leaders this season, is not yet eligible because he was designated for assignment by the Cleveland Indians off their 40-man major-league roster Tuesday and must clear waivers before he can return to Triple-A.

Jeff Manto cleared waivers and returned to Buffalo in a similar maneuver this week; Lovullo is not expected to be picked up either. The claim period expires Monday, after which Lovullo could opt for free agency or agree to go back to the minors.

"I'm going to accept the assignment to Buffalo. There's no secret to that," Lovullo said. "I wouldn't be with the team now if I wasn't."

Lovullo is fourth in the International League in batting at .320 and has 16 homers and 61 RBIs. He went 4 for 19 with a pair of doubles in his week-long stint with Cleveland.

"I came from the ashes. I was buried last year," said Lovullo, who hit just .227 for Buffalo in 1997 and hadn't been in the big leagues since 1996 with Oakland. "I just feel very satisfied knowing I worked my tail off to get that call and consideration and it actually happened.

"It was the greatest week of my life in baseball, a magical week. That's how I'm looking at it. I can point to the negatives that I'm back in the minors and I hit 4 for 19, but the positive is that I had a week there where I got to play in front of 45,000 people every night cheering for me and backing me."

Lovullo said the Indians told him his stay would likely be a short one because they planned to recall Enrique Wilson after his 10-day stint in Buffalo was complete. Cleveland was concerned that regular second baseman David Bell was getting tired, and felt he needed a few days off.

"Once you're in the big leagues, you're hoping to change people's minds. I had a couple of big base hits, but I understand they wanted Enrique Wilson on the playoff roster."

Even though Lovullo has been in the big leagues with five other teams, he said the experience of being with a division leader was an unforgettable one.

"People in the lobby of the hotels will be screaming at you like you're their lost little brother," he said. "I just wasn't used to that. In hotels in Triple-A, sometimes you're lucky if you see the front desk attendant.

"The fans in Cleveland are tremendous, just crazy about that team."

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