May 2008

That other, healthier Miller in the Minors

Adam Miller’s on the shelf, but you might have noticed Ryan Miller is having a heck of a season at Class A Lake County. My colleague Kevin Czerwinski recently interviewed Ryan for his “Minor Leagues, Major Thoughts” blog, so check it out here.

The blog and I will be on hiatus this weekend. I’ll catch back up with you from Arlington on Monday.

Breslow claimed

Lefty reliever Craig Breslow, who was designated for assignment by the Indians last week, was plucked off waivers by the Twins on Thursday. Perhaps they'll find more work for him than the Indians did. Breslow appeared in just seven games for the Tribe, putting up a 3.24 ERA in 8 1/3 innings.

Miller shut down

Top prospect Adam Miller’s Minor League season is conceivably over. According to head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff, Miller will be shut down from throwing for eight weeks after having surgery performed on the middle finger of his right throwing hand Tuesday. After eight weeks, Miller will begin a return-to-throw program in either Winter Haven or Goodyear, so the odds of him coming back in time to rejoin the Bisons are slim.

Last year, Miller suffered a strain on the pulley system in that finger. The hope was that he could come back without surgery. But the strain caused his tendon to sag, and his skin, as a result of rubbing against the baseball so often, developed two hardened calluses and an open hole. Team hand surgeon Dr. Tom Graham decided to perform the surgery to reinforce the pulley system.

Tough blow for the Indians, who hoped Miller could help them this season — either in the rotation or bullpen.

Woke up this morning, there was a chill in the air…

We’ve got more than 10,000 kids at the park today for another one of those WKYC Weather Education Days. I hope the kids are learning a valuable lesson about global cooling, because summer has already ended here in Cleveland.

Did you somehow miss summer? It arrived Monday, about noonish, and ended around 6:30 p.m. Now we’re firmly entrenched in the fall. This absence of summer will be murder on your heating costs, but think how much money you’ll save on pool upkeep.

Speaking of absence, Travis Hafner is once again out of the lineup, as expected. He told reporters he had a cortisone injection to treat his injured right shoulder on Tuesday. Hafner said weakness, not soreness, is the main problem with the shoulder. But he said this is only an issue when it flares up and hasn’t been a day to day concern this season. He thinks the cortisone shot will allow him to play Friday and prevent him from having to go on the disabled list.

You can’t help but wonder if a stay on the DL might be good for the man known as Pronk. If nothing else, it would allow him to go to Buffalo for a couple weeks to regain some confidence in his swing. I guess we’ll know more Friday, when the Indians open a brutal 11-game roadie in K.C.

In the meantime, here are the lineups for today’s chilly series finale with the White Sox…

INDIANS (24-28): CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Jamey Carroll, RF Ben Francisco, C Victor Martinez, LF David Dellucci, SS Jhonny Peralta, DH Michael Aubrey, 1B Casey Blake, 3B Andy Marte. RHP Jake Westbrook makes his return to the rotation.

WHITE SOX (28-23): SS Orlando Cabrera, C A.J. Pierzynski, LF Carlos Quentin, RF Jermaine Dye, DH Jim Thome, 1B Paul Konerko, CF DeWayne Wise, 3B Joe Crede, 2B Alexei Ramirez. RHP Gavin Floyd.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • So, official scorer Chuck Murr said that bizarre sixth-inning sequence in which the Indians were awarded a triple steal last night is holding up because of a quirk in the rule book. The triple steal began with Jamey Carroll getting picked off second and was only made possible because of Paul Konerko’s botched throw home to nab David Dellucci. Anyway, the last triple steal was pulled off by the Braves on Oct. 1, 1987, in Houston. In that instance, the runner from third broke for home after the Houston catcher tossed the ball bag to the mound, and all other runners advanced.
  • RHP Adam Miller had surgery performed on the middle finger of his throwing hand Tuesday in Baltimore. His status for the remainder of the year is still not known. We plan to talk to head trainer Lonnie Soloff after today’s game. If he gives us a Miller update, I’ll have it on the site.
  • Aaron Laffey’s 1.59 ERA is the lowest in the AL since April 17. He is still 13 innings short of qualifying for the AL ERA lead.
  • LHP Jeremy Sowers improved to 3-3 last night with a win over Toledo in which he pitched six scoreless innings, allowing eight hits with one walk and five strikeouts. Sowers has a 2.18 ERA in nine starts. Josh Barfield went 3-for-6 with two runs scored and a double in the win.
  • Barfield has been heating up at the plate this month at Buffalo, and Asdrubal Cabrera remains cold as can be up here. But Wedge said before Tuesday’s game that Cabrera brings so much to the table defensively that that outweighs his offensive struggles. Then Cabrera went out and made two errors against the Sox. Go figure.
  • Last night’s win was the 8,500th in the history of the franchise.

~AC

No way, Jorge

Jorge Julio will be designated for assignment when Jake Westbrook is activated off the disabled list Wednesday.

Not a surprising move when you look at Julio’s 5.60 ERA in 15 appearances and the nine earned runs he’s allowed in his last 10 2/3 innings.

But it is surprising when you consider Eric Wedge went out of his way to praise Julio’s arm the other day, when Jensen Lewis was sent out. Wedge said Julio had only struggled of late and that he had pitched well for this club beforehand.

Anyway, Ed Mujica and Scott Elarton survive. Kudos to them.

 

Ah… Choo?

This text message I just received from a buddy says it all: “Get Shoo [sic] up with the big boys. We will go undefeated the rest of the way!”

If Shin-Soo Choo is the answer, the question must be, “Who’s the next guy who will be called up from Triple-A and have nothing to do with Victor Martinez not hitting home runs, Grady Sizemore not hitting lefties, Travis Hafner not hitting righties and Jhonny Peralta not hitting anything but solo shots?”

Choo isn’t the answer. There’s not a single player in baseball who could be the answer, because the Indians’ problems run much deeper than one, two or even three spots.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking Choo. I like Choo. And I really like calling him “Big League” Choo. But Choo can’t be counted on as the savior of this light-hitting ballclub.

But Choo will be here within the next week — perhaps even by the end of the week — and I hope the Indians stick him in one corner outfield spot, stick Ben Francisco in the other and see what happens.

In the meantime, Hafner remains out of the lineup with shoulder soreness. Eric Wedge is going to give him today, tomorrow and Thursday’s off day to recuperate, then take a good, hard look at things Friday. It’s possible Hafner will wind up on the DL, and, if nothing else, that would give the Indians an easy corresponding move for Choo’s promotion.

One move that will definitely be made in the next 18 hours is Jake Westbrook’s return from the DL. Wedge said a counter move has been decided upon, but he won’t reveal it until after tonight’s game. My guess is Ed Mujica will head back down to Triple-A, but who really knows, at this point.

One thing I do know is that Andy Marte will survive tonight’s cut, because Wedge announced — shockingly — that he plans to start playing Marte more this week, taking advantage of Casey Blake’s versatility and the now-open DH spot.

Here are tonight’s lineups…

INDIANS (23-28): CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Jamey Carroll, LF Ben Francisco, C Victor Martinez, DH Jhonny Peralta, 1B Ryan Garko, RF Franklin Gutierrez, 3B Andy Marte, SS Asdrubal Cabrera. LHP Aaron Laffey on the hill.

WHITE SOX (28-22): SS Orlando Cabrera, 3B Pablo Ozuna, LF Carlos Quentin, DH Jermaine Dye, 1B Paul Konerko, RF Nick Swisher, 2B Alexei Ramirez, CF Brian Anderson, C Toby Hall. LHP Mark Buehrle.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Top prospect Adam Miller, on the Buffalo DL, saw team hand specialist, Dr. Tom Graham, in Baltimore on Tuesday. The Indians will have an update on his situation Wednesday, but the gist of it, for now, is that Miller has a hole in his skin on the area of his right middle finger, between two calluses, where he had a pulley strain last year. According to head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff, Dr. Graham will either close the hole or have to surgically repair the pulley. In the latter scenario, Miller would obviously be laid up for a while, though Soloff didn’t want to speculate how long. All in all… another bizarre injury for the oft-injured Miller.
  • Peralta’s 10 homers are tied for fourth in the AL. Eight of them are solo shots. And in what is quickly becoming one of my favorite stats to watch, the 10 homers account for 27.8 percent of his hits (34).
  • Good time to be a lefty named Ryan in Lake County. Ryan Miller is 7-0 with a 0.93 ERA in nine games, including eight starts. And Ryan Morris is 6-0 with a 2.01 ERA in 10 starts. Both were 2006 Draft picks — Morris in the fourth round and Miller in the 36th.
  • Rick Bauer now has 13 saves at Buffalo. His ERA is 1.69 in 21 1/3 innings of work.
  • Jeremy Sowers’ 2.45 ERA is the sixth-best in the International League. He starts tonight at Toledo.
  • Casey Blake is holding three weeklong baseball camps on June 23-27 in Vermilion, July 28-Aug. 1 in Hudson, and Aug. 11-15 in Beachwood. Camp tuition for the weeklong day camp is $263, and the camp runs from 9:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m. Campers get instruction from high school/college coaches and players, five days of professional instruction, one t-shirt, and one baseball. Blake will make at least two appearances at each camp to give instruction, sign autographs and talk about the Tribe. Blue Streak Camps is presenting the events. Register online at indians.com/blakecamps or call (440) 287-7644.

~AC 

With a boulder on my shoulder, feeling kinda older…

Didn’t have a chance to throw this up here last night, but I’ve gotten several e-mails from people wondering why Hafner didn’t pinch-hit last night. The answer is right here.

Not really sure what to make of this shoulder injury and how much it’s affected Pronk this season, but I do know it’s been a lingering concern since the last week of Spring Training. He’s insisted several times this year that he’s as healthy as ever, but that shoulder is routinely wrapped in ice after games, and common sense tells you that a bum shoulder would affect your ability to drive the ball. I’m sure we’ll hear more about this at the park today.

Time is money

The Consortium of African American Organizations is holding an online silent auction in which more than 80 CEOs, executives and celebrities are offering the opportunity for one-on-one meetings with them.

Indians general manager Mark Shapiro and team executive vice president of business operations Dennis Lehman are making themselves available in the auction, for which team president Paul Dolan is the honorary chair.

Shapiro is donating the opportunity to spend half a day with him, and this includes the chance to meet other Indians front-office personnel. The “buy it now” price for this experience is $2,500.

Lehman is offering up one hour of his time at the “buy it now” price of $950.

To view all the executives or register for the auction, go to www.caao2008.cmarket.com.

"I don't want a movie hot dog. I want a Papaya King hot dog!"

It’s Dollar Dog Night. And… I don’t know what in the world just made me think of this… but did you see that Washington Post series about one in three U.S. children being obese? I can’t imagine how such a thing could happen.

Travis Hafner is getting the night off, not in observance of Memorial Day, but, rather, in observance of his .197 average against right-handed pitchers. Same goes for Ryan Garko, who seems to be falling into more and more of a platoon situation with Michael Aubrey, although Eric Wedge doesn’t want to call it that. Yet.

The lineups… 

INDIANS (23-27): CF Grady Sizemore, DH David Dellucci, LF Ben Francisco, C Victor Martinez, 1B Michael Aubrey, SS Jhonny Peralta, RF Franklin Gutierrez, 3B Casey Blake, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. RHP Paul Byrd on the mound.

WHITE SOX (27-22): SS Orlando Cabrera, C A.J. Pierzynski, LF Carlos Quentin, RF Jermaine Dye, DH Jim Thome, 1B Paul Konerko, 3B Joe Crede, CF Nick Swisher, 2B Alexei Ramirez. RHP Javier Vazquez.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • OF Todd Linden and INF Jorge Velandia were both signed to Minor League contracts and assigned to Buffalo. Linden, 27, had been with Triple-A Sacramento, where he was batting .333 with three homers and 12 RBIs in 22 games. He was the 41st overall pick in the 2001 Draft. He’s appeared in 270 big-league games with the Giants and Marlins, batting .231 (116-for-502).
  • Velandia, 33, was with Triple-A Syracuse, batting .287 with three homers and 12 RBIs in 28 games. He appeared in two games with the Blue Jays, including the second game of that May 12 doubleheader at Progressive Field. In his career, Velandia’s hit .182 with two homers and 23 RBIs in 166 big-league games with the Padres, A’s, Mets, Rays and Jays.
  • Top prospect Adam Miller is hurt again at Buffalo. I’ll have more on the site on that in a little bit, but he’s developed another blister on the same finger that gave him fits during Spring Training. 
  • Congrats to Omar Vizquel, who became the all-time leader in games played at SS by playing in career game No. 2,584 yesterday for the Giants in Florida. He surpassed Luis Aparacio. Ozzie Smith (2,511) is third. Aparacio and Smith are in the Hall of Fame, and Omar, as far as I’m concerned, figures to join them — wearing a Tribe cap, no less.
  • Joe Borowski is tied with Steve Olin for sixth place on the club’s all-time saves list, with 48.
  • The opposition hasn’t attempted a steal on the Tribe over the last seven games. 

~AC

"I gotta say, that is a fantastic idea, Feldman!"

Well, it’s one of those days. Let’s just go straight to the lineups. Victor Martinez is still out with that finger injury…

INDIANS (22-26): CF Grady Sizemore, 3B Casey Blake, DH Travis Hafner, RF Ben Francisco, 1B Michael Aubrey, SS Jhonny Peralta, LF David Dellucci, C Kelly Shoppach, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. LHP Cliff Lee on the mound, and according to SI.com, we should all bear Witness to him (a la LeBron) — and that’s just silly. But we can at least watch and hope, for the Indians’ sake, that Sunday’s rough outing was a fluke.

RANGERS (25-25): 2B Ian Kinsler, SS Michael Young, CF Josh Hamilton, DH Milton Bradley, LF David Murphy, C Gerald Laird, RF Marlon Byrd, 1B Chris Shelton, 3B German Duncan. RHP Scott Feldman on the mound. Wasn’t he the Bizarro version of Kramer?

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • When Carmona came out of the game with his hip injury in the third inning last night, it ended the Indians’ streak of 32 straight games in which their starters lasted at least five innings.
  • The Tribe gave up nine doubles to the Rangers last night. The last time that happened to the Indians was April 14, 1993, at Boston.
  • Aaron Laffey’s 1.60 ERA since April 17 is the lowest in the AL in that span. He is 15 innings shy of qualifying for the AL ERA lead. Now that Carmona’s hurt, he’ll get a chance to do so.
  • The Indians are 9-for-56 with RISP during the seven-game losing streak.
  • The Tribe is batting .205 this month. Talk about dis-May (insert rimshot here).

OK, one last thing…

Perhaps you’ve seen those touching features ESPN runs every so often called “My Wish,” in which a Make-A-Wish kid gets to live out a sports fantasy. Well, the Indians are the subject of one today.

Alonso Faragoso, 7, lives in Las Vegas, but he played on a Little League team called the Indians, so they instantly became his favorite team. Apparently, when he plays baseball video games, he’s always the Tribe, as is his sister, so … the Indians always win. Today he got to suit up in full uniform at his own locker in the clubhouse, play catch on the field, take batting practice, and he’ll also throw out the ceremonial first pitch and do the PA announcements in the third inning.

We’ll have a story about Alonso in Game Face Magazine in the near future, and ESPN’s feature is supposedly going to run in late June.

~AC

UPDATE (6:57 p.m. ET): G.I. Joe’s Sgt. Slaughter just threw out the ceremonial second pitch. I’m not making this up. I wish I were.

UPDATED UPDATE (8:50): OK, now I’m glad Sgt. Slaughter is here. Ketchup was on his way to, most likely, a win in the Hot Dog Race when Slaughter clothes-lined him, knocking Ketchup to the ground. As a mustard fan, I relished this moment (pun intended). And… I have no idea why I’m writing about this. Probably because I don’t see it ending up in the game story. 

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