April 2008

Stanny's back

LHP Jason Stanford was signed to a Minor League deal today to fill Sean Smith’s spot in the Buffalo rotation. He began this season with Triple-A Columbus but was released by the Nationals on Monday. He was 2-2 with a 10.05 ERA in five games, including three starts.

Stanford was a feel-good story with the Indians last summer when he made his return to the Majors after 2004 Tommy John surgery.

Let's play two (uh, most likely)

The skies are gray above Kauffman Stadium, but the radar looks clear, so it appears they’ll be able to get both games in tonight. But you never really know, do you? Oh, you do? Well, that’s just cocky.

Everyone in the Indians’ clubhouse is pretty puzzled about the Royals’ decision (and yes, it was the Royals’ decision) to play two today. And in a straight doubleheader (hence, one gate), no less. The Tribe’s two other visits to K.C. are both weekend trips. It would seem to make sense, from an attendance standpoint, to have a doubleheader on one of those weekends. My only guess is that the Royals are so advanced in the meteorology department that they actually have the forecasts for May 30-June 1 and Sept. 5-7 and can accurately predict that it will be raining on those days, so it’s best to get these in now. But that’s just a guess.

Anyway, Aaron Laffey will get Monday’s start, as Fausto Carmona will no longer be available, due to the short rest after today’s start in Game 1. That’s the news of the day. Laffey is pitching for Buffalo today, but he’ll be on a strict pitch count to have him ready for the quick turnaround.

The Tribe’s lineup for Game 1 is as follows: CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Jamey Carroll, DH Travis Hafner, C Victor Martinez, 1B Ryan Garko, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, RF Ben Francisco, LF Jason Michaels, RF Casey Blake. Fausto is hurling.

The Royals will go with: CF Joey Gathright, LF David DeJesus, RF Mark Teahen, DH Billy Butler, 3B Alex Gordon, C Miguel Olivo, 1B Ross Gload, 2B Alberto Callaspo, SS Tony Pena. RHP Brett Tomko is pitching.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY:

  • Did you notice that in the Indians’ 15-run outburst Tuesday night, their Nos. 3 and 4 hitters, Hafner and Martinez, went a combined 1-for-10?
  • The Indians have swept four of their last five doubleheaders, which is pretty incredible, if you think about it. The only one they didn’t sweep was last September’s split in Seattle. The Tribe has not been swept in a doubleheader since Oct. 5, 2001, at Toronto.
  • ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark (a fellow Springsteen nut, so he’s good people) had this interesting nugget: On Tuesday night, C.C. Sabathia became the first pitcher ever to give up nine runs (earned or unearned) in back-to-back starts and follow that up his next outing by giving up no runs.

~AC 

Carroll trade complete

From the Bisons…

The Cleveland Indians today announced that they have sent Bisons RHP Sean Smith to the Colorado Rockies to complete a trade made on December 8, 2007 to acquire INF Jamey Carroll.

Smith, 25, began the 2008 season with the Bisons. He was 0-1 with a 4.00ERA in his four starts with the team (18.0IP, 14H, 8R, 8ER, 10BB, 20K).

Last season, Smith was one of the most reliable starters on the Herd’s staff. He made 21 starts for manager Torey Lovullo and was 9-7 with a 4.25ERA. He led the Bisons’ staff with 90 strikeouts and was tied with Aaron Laffey for the team-lead in wins. His 133.1 innings of work were second behind only Jeff Harris (138.1).

Smith was schedule to start for the Herd on Friday night in Scranton/WB. The Bisons have not released who will start in his place.

Let's play none

Tonight's game is bagged on account of rain. The Indians and Royals will play a traditional doubleheader Thursday, beginning at 6:10 p.m. ET. More info on the site later.

Sowers gets the call

Jeremy Sowers will get called up for Saturday’s start against the Yankees, Eric Wedge confirmed. Sowers was 0-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 22 2/3 innings pitched over four starts at Buffalo.

Wedge didn't say if Sowers is the "permanent" guy to fill in for Jake Westbrook, while Westbrook is on the DL. They'll take this start by start, apparently. Sowers will be working on regular rest. Aaron Laffey, the other candidate for the job, would have had two extra days' rest, had he gotten the nod.

The Indians will make the official roster move Saturday. For now, it's very likely Ben Francisco will be sent back down.

"You're a mailman! Neither rain nor sleet nor snow… it's the first one!"

Meteorology is not my strong suit. Come to think of it, I’m still not sure I have a strong suit. As soon as I find out, I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, I’ll let you know that it was raining at Kauffman Stadium a little while ago, and the tarp is now out. That’s wiped out outdoor BP, and the pitchers are now on the field, playing catch and getting loose. The radar looks pretty dicey in these parts, but I still haven’t heard any real word on whether they’ll be able to get this one in tonight. For now, the skies do appear to have parted, so that’s good.

If the game is played, the Indians (8-12) will trot out the usual suspects: CF Grady Sizemore, LF David Dellucci, DH Travis Hafner, C Victor Martinez, 1B Ryan Garko, SS Jhonny Peralta, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera, RF Franklin Gutierrez, 3B Casey Blake. Fausto on the hill.

The Royals (9-11) will counter with: CF Joey Gathright, LF David DeJesus, RF Mark Teahen, DH Billy Butler, 3B Alex Gordon, C Miguel Olivo, 1B Ross Gload, 2B Alberto Callaspo, SS Tony Pena, with RHP Brett Tomko starting.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY:

  • Down on the farm, RHP Adam Miller is making his first start for Buffalo tonight. He was lucky enough to get to spend a few extra weeks in Winter Haven because of a nasty blister that had formed on the middle finger of his pitching hand. Miller, once healthy and in the flow of things with the Bisons, could help the Tribe this season, perhaps in the bullpen.
  • Indians starters have allowed just five earned runs in their last 34 2/3 innings pitched over the last four games.
  • The Indians got nine RBIs from the eight and nine spots last night (Gutierrez and Blake). Believe it or not, that’s the most combined RBIs ever for the starters in the 8-9 spots in the Indians lineup in any game in which the club has used a DH.

 

Around the Majors, the Reds fired Wayne Krivsky (GM shakeups are a biennial event in the Queen City), the Tigers flopped Carlos Guillen and Miguel Cabrera at the 1B and 3B spots (not that they’re panicking or anything), and Curtis Granderson has returned.

~AC

 

UPDATE (7:41 p.m. ET): It is absolutely pouring here. This one definitely won’t start on time, if at all. We’ve got lightning. We’ve got rain. And we’ve got three of baseball’s most stubborn fans sitting in a section behind the Royals’ dugout in ponchos, sitting right in the middle of it.

Take a good look around…

As you no doubt have noticed, there’s a lot of stuff on Indians.com.

You can read this hack’s daily reports on the Tribe. You can subscribe to newsletters. You can play fantasy games. You can check the probable pitchers or the standings. You can even answer poll questions such as “Who should be getting the most starts in LF?” (The results, I’m told, are hand-delivered to Eric Wedge, who is under binding contract to do what the people tell him. Or maybe I just made that up. Who knows?)

Anyway, with all this stuff popping up on a daily basis, it’s easy to lose track of some good stuff — like GameFace Magazine. The season’s third issue went live today, and it includes a pair of stories from our old buddy Justice B. Hill — an interview with Cleveland baseball legend Mudcat Grant on the 50th anniversary of his first big-league start, and a story on a Mississippi native, contractor and Indians fan who has taken to naming streets in his subdivisions after Tribe players. I’m just not sure if anybody in Mississippi appreciates this, outside of Matt Miller and his immediate family.

A Royal renovation

If you’re coming to Kauffman Stadium anytime soon, bring your hard hat. This place is all torn up as part of a two-year, $250 million renovation project. But if you can ignore the mounds of dirt and the crane trucks, this is still one of the more beautiful settings to take in a ballgame.

Unfortunately, they’ve removed the greatest scoreboard in baseball — that giant crown in center field (sure, the majority of the time it was an inning or two behind, but it was a cool, retro look). The good news is they’ve replaced it with … the greatest scoreboard in baseball.

This thing is ridiculous… a 105 feet high, 85 feet wide video screen with a crystal-clear screen. It is almost as impressive as the 42″ plasma I bought myself for Christmas. Almost. The only problem is the trademark crown placed atop the old scoreboard is gone, but it’s my understanding that a new crown will go up soon.

Oh, there’s also a game going on tonight. Here’s the info…

CLEVELAND (7-12) AT KANSAS CITY (9-10)

at Kauffman Stadium

INDIANS

Grady Sizemore, CF

David Dellucci, LF

Travis Hafner, DH

Victor Martinez, C

Ryan Garko, 1B

Jhonny Peralta, SS

Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B

Franklin Gutierrez, RF

Casey Blake, 3B

PITCHING: C.C. Sabathia, LHP

ROYALS

David DeJesus, CF

Mark Grudzielanek, 2B

Mark Teahen, LF

Billy Butler, DH

Jose Guillen, RF

Alex Gordon, 3B

Ross Gload, 1B

John Buck, C

Tony Pena, SS

PITCHING: Gil Meche, RHP

STAT OF THE DAY: C.C. has walked 27 batters in his last 33 1/3 innings pitched, going back to last October. He only walked 37 in 241 regular-season innings last year.

Westbrook DL'd, Francisco promoted, Laffey/Sowers next

Just landed in K.C. and got the news on Jake — a left intercostal strain (the intercostal muscles run between the ribs) has landed him on the 15-day DL, and outfielder Ben Francisco is in town and will occupy Westbrook’s spot on the 25-man roster.

A surprising development, to say the least. And certainly not a welcome development to the struggling Tribe. Westbrook was one of the few bright spots in a not-so-bright start to the season.

Assistant media relations director Jeff Sibel told me Westbrook felt the strain after coming out of Saturday’s seven-inning outing in Minnesota. Apparently, the soreness worsened Sunday and Westbrook didn’t even make the trip to Kansas City with the team.

You might remember that lefty reliever Aaron Fultz had an intercostal strain last season and missed over a month of action.

So who’s going to take the spot in the rotation? Well, Paul Byrd will be on regular rest and can pitch Friday. A reinforcement will be needed Saturday. Jeremy Sowers (0-2, 3.18 ERA in four starts) is currently in line to start Saturday for Buffalo, so he might get the call. The other candidate would be Aaron Laffey (3-1, 3.13 in four starts), who is currently slated to start Thursday for the Bisons.

I’ll post more when I know it. 

UPDATE (7:30 p.m. ET): Jake strained the muscle on a pitch to Mike Lamb in the seventh inning Saturday. He finished his outing (was pulled for game-, not injury-related reasons, according to Wedge), but when he tried to play catch Sunday, the pain persisted. He went back to Cleveland for the MRI that revealed the intercostal strain.

Head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff said the Indians will see how Westbrook’s feeling when they get home Friday. If the muscle is still inflamed and bothering him, he’ll have a cortisone injection. If not, he’ll begin a throwing program. Best case scenario: He’s back in the rotation in two weeks (but don’t bet on it). Worst-case, for now: Four weeks.

Laffey or Sowers will be promoted for Saturday’s start. Laffey’s done a better job keeping the ball in the ballpark and inducing groundballs this season, so he might be the safer pick. We shall see this weekend.

Super Terrific Happy Hour

From the shameless self-promotion department comes notice that I’ll be on this week’s Dodge Tribe Report on SportsTime Ohio tonight (Monday) at 6 p.m. ET. I’ll be the one sputtering sentence fragments and sweating uncontrollably.

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