CLEVELAND -- Despite a dismal performance this season, veteran catcher Rick Dempsey hasn't given up on himself, and neither have the Cleveland Indians.

"I think I am still capable of catching 100 games, hitting 10 home runs and driving in 25 to 55 runs," he said. "Right now, it's a case of finding a manager who has confidence in me."

Dempsey, however, is far from those figures this season. He has a .177 batting average, only nine RBI and just one home run in 141 at-bats.

When Dempsey, a free agent released by the Baltimore Orioles, signed with the Indians in February it cost them $400,000. It's another $550,000 if they decide to pick up his option year in 1988. It was also a contract that cost the Indians the 15th pick overall in the June draft.

"Unfortunately," said Indians senior vice president Dan O'Brien, "it is something that hasn't worked out."

Nothing has gone right for Dempsey this season. He hasn't hit. He's thrown out only 12 of 45 base runners, 27 percent. He was verbally ripped by Jack Aker only days after the Indians fired their pitching coach in July.

And to top things off, Dempsey suffered a broken left thumb when Bo Jackson ran him down in a home plate collision at Kansas City on July 21 and was only activated from

he disabled list Sept. 5. "I'm lucky the guy didn't break my neck," said Dempsey.

Dempsey, who recently turned 38, spent 11 seasons with the great Orioles teams of the late-1970s and early 1980s, and he was the most valuable player in the 1983 World Series.

No one expects Dempsey to be wearing an Indians uniform next season, but O'Brien said that decision hasn't been made.

"I can't be critical of Rick Dempsey," O'Brien said. "He's been an honest, dedicated soldier. Everything Rick Dempsey can give you, he has given us. How many times, for instance, have you heard of a guy on the disabled list come in and ask if there is anything he can do to help the organization?"

Dempsey did just that. O'Brien sent the ailing catcher to minor league teams in Buffalo and Williamsport, Pa., where he spent 10 days working out with players.