June 2008

You look just like a commie and you might just be a member, get out of Denver baby go

We’re getting out of Denver after tonight’s game, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. This is a great city and great ballpark.

But every time I think of Denver, I think of something my dad used to tell me about when he would come here on business quite often in the 1990s. It seems they used to have a Christmas tree hanging upside down in the middle of downtown. When my dad inquired as to the reason for this, he was told it was a “metaphor for nature.” It’s been about 15 years, and I still don’t know what that means. Somebody, englighten me. Please.

While you’re chewing on that riddle, make room to chew on these lineups and get excited for the Sal Fasano Era…

INDIANS (33-39): CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Jamey Carroll, LF Ben Francisco, 1B Ryan Garko, SS Jhonny Peralta, 3B Casey Blake, RF Franklin Gutierrez, C Kelly Shoppach, LHP Jeremy Sowers.

ROCKIES (30-42): CF Willy Tavares, SS Omar Quintanilla, LF Matt Holliday, 3B Garrett Atkins, 1B Jeff Baker, RF Brad Hawpe, C Yorvit Torrealba, 2B Doug Bernier, LHP Jorge De La Rosa.


  • Got a Travis Hafner update for you, but it’s really not much of an update. Dr. James Andrews concurred with the original evaluation made by the Indians’ medical staff and recommended that Hafner continue strengthening his rotator cuff and shoulder girdle, while getting strength checks every seven to 10 days. Hafner will continue his current shoulder strengthening routine. We’ll be talking with head trainer Lonnie Soloff about this in a little bit, so look for more info on the site.
  • Six more Draft picks have been signed by the Tribe. They are: INF Jason Rodriguez (15th round, University of Nevada-Reno), LHP Kaimi Mead (18th round, Hawaii Pacific), OF Ryan Blair (21st round, Cal St. Sacramento), INF Kevin Fontanez (24th round, PR Baseball Academy), RHP Steve Smith (28th round, Ouachita Baptist U.), and LHP Russell Young (28th round, Dartmouth College). The Indians have now signed 17 of their 50 selections, including nine of their first 15. 
  • According to the latest Baseball Prospectus postseason odds report, the Indians have a 4.14 percent chance of winning the AL Central and a .31 percent chance of winning the Wild Card. The White Sox have a 78.69 percent chance of winning the division, the second-place Twins (interestingly) are at 3.25 percent and the third-place Tigers (also interestingly) are at 12.95 percent.
  • The Indians are on pace to be hit by 110 pitches this season, which would shatter the club record of 80, set last year. It also would break the American League record of 92, set by the Blue Jays in 1996.
  • The Tribe has lost six straight and seven of its last eight road Interleague games since 2007. Tonight, the Indians will look to avoid getting swept in Coors Field for the second time in as many visits here (the last coming in 2003).
  • Cliff Lee has regained the AL ERA lead with a 2.55 mark. He ranks third in the Majors.


And you thought the Indians wouldn't be buyers…

The Indians went out and got themselves a new backup catcher today.

Sal Fasano, 36, was acquired from the Braves for a player to be named later. Yamid Haad was designated for assignment.

Fasano has 412 games of experience in the big leagues, compiling a .219 average with 47 homers and 134 RBIs. He last appeared in the Majors with the Blue Jays last season, batting .178 with a homer and four RBIs in 16 games.

This season, Fasano was at Triple-A Richmond, where he was batting .193 with two homers and nine RBIs in 26 games.

Haad, who hit .159 at Triple-A Buffalo this year, had yet to appear in a game for the Indians since he had his contract purchased last week.

Obviously, the Indians can’t play Kelly Shoppach every day (especially not when he’s striking out once every 2.85 at-bats), and Fasano has much more big-league experience than Haad. He also has an outstanding mustache. So there you go.

We hurt each other, then we do it again

I was 17 years old and a high school senior when the Columbine High School massacre took place. It was the first national tragedy that truly hit home with me, because I remember feeling that what happened in Littleton, Colo., that day in 1999, could have happened at any high school anywhere, including my own. What school, after all, wasn’t — and isn’t — home to cliques, bullies and alienated teens?

When you’re that young, you’re supposed to feel invincible. At that point in your life, it takes quite a jolt to the senses to feel otherwise, and Columbine was it for me. It was an unwelcome — but perhaps necessary — reminder of our fragility.

Perhaps that’s what drew me to Littleton this morning. Driving aimlessly through Denver, I saw a sign for the city and pushed ahead. Before long, I was standing in a beautifully constructed memorial to the 13 victims of the school shooting.

An inner ring of the memorial contains a wall of stone etched with tributes written for, about and even by the victims. Each family found its own way of leaving a lasting memory of the deceased — be it through anger, prayer or a simple story. One father used his tribute to his dead son to chastise a “Godless school system” and apologized to his child for sending him to a public school. Another family shared their daughter’s journal entry in which she voiced her desire to be in heaven, even though she still seemingly had so much life ahead of her. A third wrote of their son battling developmental disabilities and enrolling at Columbine just three months before his life was snuffed out prematurely.

This was evidence that different people deal with death in different ways. But I can’t imagine anybody visiting this memorial and not coming out with the singular notion that it is our basic and unwavering duty to take care of one another. It’s just an unfortunate glitch in the human condition that sometimes it takes a senseless act such as Columbine to get us to remember that.

All right, let’s completely shift emotional gears for the moment and turn our attention back to baseball. Here are tonight’s lineups…

INDIANS (33-38): CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Jamey Carroll, LF Ben Francisco, 1B Ryan Garko, SS Jhonny Peralta, 3B Casey Blake, RF Franklin Gutierrez, C Kelly Shoppach, LHP Aaron Laffey.

ROCKIES (29-42): CF Willy Taveras, RF Ryan Spilborghs, LF Matt Holliday, 3B Garrett Atkins, 1B Todd Helton, 2B Jeff Baker, C Chris Iannetta, SS Omar Quintanilla, LHP Jeff Francis.


  • RHP Fausto Carmona has had a setback in his recovery from a left hip strain. Inflammation has returned to the area, so Carmona, who was originally expected to go out on a rehab assignment on Friday, will be shut down for three days, then reevaluated. More info on the site a little later.
  • No update on DH Travis Hafner’s visit to Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham today. That update will come tomorrow.
  • You might have noticed the Indians had some trouble dealing with the spacious outfield here at Coors Field last night. The outfielders always seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Tonight, they’ll be in a different place. With a sinkerballer on the mound, Wedge is having them move in a bit to counterract those soft and shallow fly balls. I guess we’ll just see how it goes.
  • This has nothing to do with anything, really, but I find it interesting that in the visitors’ clubhouse at Coors Field, players have the old Connect Four game available to them. It’s been a hit with several players, but not David Dellucci. “Once you start playing those old games you can’t stop,” he said. Dellucci also said he was the best Connect Four player on his street when he was a kid. If you grew up on Delluccis street and wish to refute this claim, feel free to drop me a line.
  • RHP Oneli Perez, who was designated for assignment last week, was claimed by the Yankees today. Perez had a 7.11 ERA in seven appearances at Buffalo.
  • Newly signed first-round pick Lonnie Chisenhall made his debut at Mahoning Valley last night and went 2-for-5 with three runs scored.
  • 3B Wes Hodges has hit safely in 11 straight games for Double-A Akron, batting .442 with a homer and 12 RBIs. He leads the Eastern League with 54 RBIs.
  • Laffey is still 13 2/3 innings shy of qualifying for the AL ERA lead. His 2.83 mark would rank third, if he qualified.


Antonetti staying put

Chris Antonetti’s name has already been tossed around as a potential option in Seattle, now that Bill Bavasi got the axe. Antonetti made it pretty clear today that he’s not interested in that or any opening. You probably remember Antonetti turned down the Cardinals’ job last year, after the Indians stepped up and gave him assurances of just how valuable he is to the organization (read: $).


“I hope I’ve been very clear how happy I am in Cleveland,” Antonetti said. “I’m looking forward to continuing to build a winning team here. Hopefully I’ve been clear with that. That’s not with respect to Seattle. That’s my situation here. I’m very happy.”


He would not say if Seattle has contacted him about the job.

More bad news…

We just spoke with head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff about Josh Barfield, and all the injury updates today are negatives ones for the Tribe.

DH Travis Hafner (right shoulder weakness) will visit surgeon to the stars Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., on Wednesday to get a second opinion on his injured right shoulder. Soloff said surgery on the shoulder is unlikely, but the Indians would like Andrews to take a look and offer advice on a proper return-to-play program.

As you might know, the Indians had hoped to send Hafner out on a rehab assignment this week, but his shoulder is simply still too weak for such activity. All in all, I’d say it’s going to be a while before we see Hafner back in the lineup.

RHP Fausto Carmona (left hip strain) was also expected to go out on a rehab assignment this week, and the brakes are currently applied to that plan, as well. Carmona threw a 50-pitch simulated session at Mahoning Valley on Monday and felt soreness in his hip afterward. He will be re-examined on Wednesday, and the Indians will determine if this is typical soreness or an actual setback. In any event, it’s looking less likely that Carmona will be back with the team at the end of this month, as previously prescribed.

That’s all the injury news. For now, at least. But give it a few minutes.  

Barfield out 6-8 weeks

2B Josh Barfield had surgery performed Tuesday in Baltimore to repair a tendon on the middle finger of his left hand and will miss six to eight weeks of action. The surgery was performed by team hand specialist Dr. Tom Graham.

Barfield appeared in just two games after his promotion from Triple-A Buffalo to replace Asdrubal Cabrera on June 9. He went 0-for-6 at the plate.

I’ll have more info up on the site a little later.

Headin' out for the mountains, knowin' we was traveling further

Greetings from beautiful Coors Field, home of the Sandlot Brewery, where the beer Blue Moon was invented. I just learned this useless piece of trivia and am immediately passing it on to you. Other things to know about Coors Field — the purple row of seats in the upper deck represents the city of Denver’s one-mile elevation point. Either that, or they ran out of green paint. Also, during the construction of this facility, workers discovered dinosaur fossils. Take that, Carl Everett.

Anyway, the Indians resume Interleague Play here tonight, and this is an important stretch for the Tribe. They are in the midst of playing some relatively weak opponents from the NL West, and how they fare will go a long way toward determining what this club does at the trading deadline (if anything).

With that being said, here are the lineups for tonight’s series opener in the “rematch” of the 2007 World Series that never was…

INDIANS (33-37): CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Jamey Carroll, LF Ben Francisco, 1B Ryan Garko, RF Shin-Soo Choo, SS Jhonny Peralta, 3B Casey Blake, C Kelly Shoppach. RHP Paul Byrd on the mound and likely praising the inventor of the humidor. 

ROCKIES (28-42): CF Willy Tavaras, 2B Jeff Baker, LF Matt Holliday, 1B Todd Helton, 3B Garrett Atkins, RF Brad Hawpe, C Chris Iannetta, SS Omar Quintanilla. RHP Greg Reynolds.


  • The Indians signed 3B Morgan Ensberg to a Minor League contract and assigned him to Triple-A Buffalo today. Ensberg, 32, was designated for assignment by the Yankees on June 2 after batting .203 with a homer and four RBIs in 28 games. Ensberg is better known for his days with the Astros, for whom he hit .283 with 36 homers and 101 RBIs in 2005.
  • Remember LHP Tony Sipp? He had Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery last summer and has been in extended Spring Training camp. Farm director Ross Atkins said Sipp will be leaving Winter Haven any day now and report to a club, though the Indians had not yet determined where, exactly. Kinston is a possibility. 
  • Also down on the farm, by now you might have seen that 1B Michael Aubrey is hurt again. He was placed on the Buffalo disabled list over the weekend. 
  • Sizemore has homered in four of his last five games and has nine homers in 16 games. He has already tied an Indians club record with five leadoff homers this year. That record was set by Kenny Lofton in 1999.
  • The Indians are first in the Majors in runs scored in the month of June, with 95. The Rangers have 94, entering today.
  • This is the Tribe’s first appearance in Denver since  2003, when they were swept by the Rockies. This is the Indians’ third appearance here overall.
  • Carroll has four multi-hit games in his last six games played.


"That's a pretty big matzah ball hanging out there."

Standing in the Indians’ clubhouse a little bit ago felt a lot like September, when new bodies are brought up and every locker is filled. And it felt a lot like one of those Septembers in a season that has just gone horribly wrong — like 2006.

I’m not dumb enough to write a team off on June 12 if that team is in a weak division and is less than 10 games back in the standings. But this is about as grim a day as I’ve seen in an already grim season.

It’s been a surprising season in every sense. Just look at this list…

Michael Aubrey, Jason Tyner, Brad Snyder, Brian Slocum, Ed Mujica, Yamid Haad, Jorge Velandia.

There is not one guy on that list that I would have predicted would be on this club before September. Yet we’ve seen them all at one point or another, and it’s only June 12. In fact, the Indians have made 18 roster moves this month alone.

What a mess. Or, better put, a huge matzah ball.

Here are today’s lineups…

INDIANS (30-36): CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Jamey Carroll, LF Ben Francisco, 1B Ryan Garko, DH David Dellucci, SS Jhonny Peralta, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Casey Blake, C Kelly Shoppach. LHP Aaron Laffey, who informed me very cordially pregame that he weighed in at 194 pounds earlier today, is on the mound. Why did he point that out? Because in this article, I said his listed weight of 180 pounds might be a “slight exaggeration.” So, I stand corrected, humbled and in awe of Laffey’s enormousness.

TWINS (32-34): CF Carlos Gomez, 2B Alexi Casilla, C Joe Mauer, 1B Justin Morneau, RF Michael Cuddyer, LF Jason Kubel, DH Craig Monroe, SS Brendan Harris, 3B Matt Macri. RHP Livan Hernandez on the mound.


  •  This is Hernandez’s first regular season start against the Indians. He was, of course, the MVP of the ’97 World Series, but you didn’t need to be reminded of that, now did you?
  • Ryan Garko has an RBI in seven of nine games.
  • C.C. Sabathia and Greg Maddux will square off Sunday, so you’ve got to like that matchup of Cy Young Award winners. Maddux has made only one other regular season start here (June 20, 2006) and one World Series start in Game 5 in ’95.
  • Charles Nagy, Greg Swindell and Carlos Baerga will be new faces at the Indians’ annual Fantasy Camp, which will move over to the new Spring Training facility in Goodyear, Ariz., next year. The camp is set for Jan. 24-31. You can register online at Indians.com or call 216-420-HITS for more info.


The blog’s going on hiatus for a few days. But feel free to talk amongst yourselves.

UPDATE: Forgot to include this earlier…

The Indians today acquired CA DAMASO ESPINO from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for cash considerations.  Espino, who has been assigned to AA Akron, has spent the season in a reserve role at AAA Omaha (13G, .167avg).  He has split his 9-year professional career in the Cincinnati and Kansas City organizations, reaching the Triple A level for the first time this year.

Armando Camacaro was promoted from Akron to Buffalo to account for the loss of Yamid Haad.

Martinez, Barfield to the DL; Haad, Velandia coming up

Bad news on all fronts from the Tribe today. Catcher Victor Martinez (right elbow inflammation) and second baseman Josh Barfield (left middle finger sprain) are both headed to the 15-day disabled list, and the contracts of catcher Yamid Haad and infielder Jorge Velandia were purchased from Triple-A Buffalo.

Obviously, the Indians will have to make two other moves on the 40-man to clear room for Haad and Velandia. Those moves have not been announced.

Also, no word yet on whether Martinez’s injury will require surgery or how long to expect him out. I’d venture to guess this won’t be a short trip to the DL, though.

Eric Wedge revealed Wednesday night, after Martinez left the game with the Twins, that Martinez has been battling the elbow issue — in addition to his left hamstring strain — all season. He had an MRI performed today.

Barfield was just called up three days ago to take over at second base, but he sprained his finger while checking his swing in an at-bat Tuesday night.

If you guessed that, at any point this season, we’d see Haad and Velandia, go get yourself a lotto ticket.

UPDATE (5:40 p.m. ET): Martinez will have arthroscopic surgery to remove loose bodies in his elbow tomorrow at the Cleveland Clinic. He won’t be back for at least six to eight weeks. More info will be up on the team site in a little bit.

As for the 40-man moves, the Indians will move Jake Westbrook on the 60-day DL, and Oneli Perez will be designated for assignment.

Also, I had an error in the story that was up on the site earlier. Asdrubal Cabrera is eligible to come back up because of the Barfield injury, but the Indians left him down there to get his bat straightened out.

"That job sounds like it might be worth a year's free haircuts. And a comb."

Best Cuts is offering up $5 haircuts on the left-field home run porch tonight. The proceeds go to Cleveland Indians Charities, so it’s a worthwhile cause. But I can’t help but wonder about the quality of these cuts. If I were running the show, I’d instruct the Best Cuts stylists to absolutely butcher the haircuts, because I can’t think of a better way to spark hat sales at the merchandise stands.

I spent all day working up that joke, and… it’s not that funny.

Let’s turn, then, to the lineups, as the Indians go for three wins in a row for the first time since May 13-15. Josh Barfield is out with that left middle finger sprain. Wedge said if Barfield can’t swing the bat in BP on Thursday (he was held out of BP on Wednesday), he might head to the DL…

INDIANS (30-35): CF Grady Sizemore, LF Ben Francisco, C Victor Martinez, 1B Ryan Garko, SS Jhonny Peralta, DH David Dellucci, 3B Casey Blake, RF Franklin Gutierrez, 2B Jamey Carroll. RHP Paul Byrd (3-5, 4.46 ERA).

TWINS (31-34): CF Carlos Gomez, 2B Alexi Casilla, C Joe Mauer, 1B Justin Morneau, RF Michael Cuddyer, DH Jason Kubel, LF Delmon Young, 3B Mike Lamb, SS Brendan Harris. RHP Nick Blackburn (4-4, 3.94).


  • General manager Mark Shapiro had one of his “State of the Indians” talks with reporters earlier today. I will, of course, have a story up on the site about it in a little while.
  • LHP Aaron Laffey received the well-deserved honor of being named the AL’s rookie of the month for May. He went 3-2 with a 0.79 ERA in five May starts. Fans had a 20 percent say in the voting at www.mlb.com/gillette.
  • The Indians have now played the Twins four times and shut them out twice. The other shutout, prior to last night’s game, came April 18 at the Metrodome. The last time the Indians had shut out the Twins by a score of 1-0 was May 6, 1969.
  • C.C. Sabathia now has three career 1-0 shutouts. According to Elias, Greg Maddux (11) and Randy Johnson (4) are the only other active starters with more 1-0 shutouts. Tom Glavine and Pedro Martinez also each have three.
  • Ryan Garko has an RBI in five straight games and seven of eight.
  • Don’t forget that kids 14 and under can receive a free ticket to tomorrow night’s game. Tickets and location are subject to availability and will be available at the Progressive Field ticket office after 4 p.m. ET Thursday. Kids must be accompanied by an adult. High school and college students receive half-priced admission with a valid student ID.
  • Cleveland Indians Charities is holding a glove drive to benefit the Cleveland Baseball Federation before tomorrow’s game. Fans can donate new or slightly used baseball and softball gloves or equipment at Gates A, C and D through the fifth inning.