"If you ain't first, you're last."

Welcome to the land of last place.

Earlier this afternoon, Luis Rivera’s kid was taking outdoor batting practice. The ping of his aluminum bat echoed through an empty Progressive Field. I wonder if people passing by out on the street heard this and fell under the misguided assumption that the Indians have turned in their lumber for metal. I’m sure they would if they could.

The Indians haven’t been in last place this late in the season since 1993. You remember that immortal ’93 team, right? Reggie Jefferson played the part of David Dellucci — the light-hitting DH. Former first-round pick Jeff Mutis made 13 starts — each of them memorable in their own way (in that they were not memorable at all). Junior Ortiz caught 95 games and didn’t hit a single home run (so don’t feel so bad, Vic).

You don’t want to draw comparisons to the 1993 Cleveland Indians. That’s bad.

So if you haven’t already, I’d urge you, loyal Indians fan, to begin shifting your attention to the July 31 trading deadline. And what better way to do so than by checking out MLB.com’s brand-spanking-new Trade Talk blog? Myself and the other 29 MLB.com beat writers will be updating it constantly over the next five weeks with every rumor, report and rumbling that’s fit to print. I reckon some guy named Carsten will be mentioned once or twice. In fact, he already has.

All right, with that shameless plug behind us, let’s turn back to your regularly scheduled season, which has been utterly irregular. Here are the lineups for tonight’s action…

INDIANS (35-43): CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Jamey Carroll, LF Ben Francisco, SS Jhonny Peralta, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Casey Blake, DH David Dellucci, 1B Ryan Garko, C Kelly Shoppach. LHP Cliff Lee (10-1, 2.45), who is 10-2 lifetime in Interleague Play.

GIANTS (34-44): RF Randy Winn, 3B Jose Castillo, CF Aaron Rowand, C Bengie Molina, DH Rich Aurilia, LF Brian Horwitz, 2B Travis Denker, 1B John Bowker, SS Omar Vizquel. RHP Matt Cain (4-5, 4.31).

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Expect an update on the condition of Travis Hafner (weak right shoulder) and Fausto Carmona (strained left hip) on Friday, as Hafner will be doing a strength test, and Carmona will be playing catch.
  • Eric Wedge said Garko was falling victim to that dreaded pull of “trying to do too much” in the middle of the order, so he moved him down. Anyone who watches Garko’s at-bats with regularity can see he’s overswinging way too often. Perhaps this will help settle him down.
  • Josh Barfield was hanging out in the clubhouse. His left hand is currently in a cast following the surgery he had to repair a tendon in his middle finger. He’ll be out of the cast on Monday and ready to begin range of motion therapy. He’s 10 days removed from surgery, which is expected to keep him out 6-8 weeks.
  • The big-league club isn’t the only one scuffling offensively. Triple-A Buffalo was one-hit by Indianapolis. Veteran Morgan Ensberg provided the lone knock.
  • 1B Beau Mills’ hitting streak at Class A Kinston is up to nine games. He’s batting .342 (13-for-38) with eight runs scored, four doubles, two homers and seven RBIs in that stretch.
  • A couple TV switches have been made. The July 5 game at Minnesota will be broadcast by STO. The July 12 home game against the Rays will air on WKYC Channel 3. Adjust accordingly.
  • Don’t forget about tomorrow night’s Mystery Ball event. For $50, ticketed fans get a ball autographed by a current Major Leaguer. There will be 1,200 balls available. Proceeds benefit the Providence House.
  • Former Tribe catching prospect Max Ramirez, acquired in the ’06 Bob Wickman trade and lost in last year’s Kenny Lofton trade, hit his first Major League home run last night to give the Rangers the win over the Astros. 

Lastly, I hope my fellow Ohio U. alums (and judging by the e-mails, there are plenty of you out there) will join me in sending some good mojo in the direction of OSU assistant John Groce, who is expected to be named head men’s basketball coach tomorrow. I’m hoping for big things from you, John. Please don’t lead the Bobcats in the same direction as Plains native Larry Hunter and Tim “Did you know I used to be the assistant at Boston College and I recruited Troy Bell?” O’Shea.

~AC 

1 Comment

Larry Hunter actually prefers to be called, Larry “I recruited Asa Jewett” Hunter.

Sure this Groce guy looks like Boggs from Shawshank, but has he dominated Iceland like John Rhodes? I doubt it.

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