August 2008

Hafner's rehab begins

In his first rehab appearance at Triple-A Buffalo tonight, Pronk went 2-for-3 against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. His first at-bat resulted in a double high off the right-center field wall that, according to Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News, would have been a homer most nights, if not for the 16-mph winds.

Josh Barfield went 0-for-2 with a sac fly.

"I was in the pool! I was in the pool!"

By the time you finish reading this sentence, Michael Phelps will have won another gold medal.

 

This Phelps guy is amazing. He can't go to the bathroom without somehow winning a medal.

 

At the Phelps household, gold medals are used as drink coasters. One of them is propping up an uneven leg on the dining room table.

 

If I'm Phelps, I'd be a little sick of gold medals. Once you have a couple of them to dangle above your fireplace, you're set for life. Perhaps Phelps should have requested that the International Olympics Committee give him something a little more practical -- like a $100 gas card. Or a set of Bose headphones.

 

Are you noticing, like me, that this blog entry is not exactly gold medal-caliber material? Let's just move on to tonight's lineups and forget this ever happened, all right?

 

INDIANS (54-66): CF Grady Sizemore, RF Franklin Gutierrez, DH Ben Francisco, SS Jhonny Peralta, LF Shin-Soo Choo, C Kelly Shoppach, 1B Ryan Garko, 3B Andy Marte, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. LHP Cliff Lee (16-2, 2.45).

 

ANGELS (75-44): 3B Chone Figgins, SS Erick Aybar, 1B Mark Teixeira, RF Vladimir Guerrero, CF Torii Hunter, DH Garret Anderson, 2B Howie Kendrick, LF Juan Rivera, C Jeff Mathis. RHP Jered Weaver (10-9, 4.51).

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • The Indians signed three more Draft picks — second-round pick Trey Haley, 16th-round pick Glenn “T.J.” House and 22nd-round pick Bryce Stowell — today, in advance of the midnight deadline. Each guy received a significant signing bonus. More info is in the story on the signings, which should be posted on Indians.com soon.
  • Peralta’s hand checked out fine after last night’s plunking.
  • Josh Barfield said he had no issues with his hand last night, in his first rehab appearance at Double-A Akron. Barfield played three innings on Thursday and will play again Saturday.
  • Travis Hafner took soft toss today. He had no ill-effects from Thursday’s batting practice.
  • Mike Hargrove is in attendance, in advance of his Saturday induction into the Indians’ team Hall of Fame. We’ll have a story on Hargrove up on the site Saturday night. And the Hall of Fame reception takes place Sunday night.
  • Mike Hegan and Rick Manning are throwing out ceremonial first pitches before tonight’s game. Both are celebrating 20 years of service as Indians broadcasters.
  • Matt LaPorta went 0-for-4 and Jeff Stevens gave up two runs in an inning of relief in Team USA’s 5-4 loss to Cuba in 11 innings this morning in Beijing. Team USA was scheduled to face Team Canada (which includes Tribe farmhands Nick Weglarz and T.J. Burton) tonight at 10:30 p.m. ET.
  • The Angels haven’t played in Cleveland since Aug. 10, 2006, a span of 736 days. Last season, they faced the Indians in Milwaukee, rather than Jacobs nee Progressive Field, because of the April snowstorms.
  • The Indians are sixth in the Majors in runs scored since June 1, with 342.

~AC

UPDATE: Yes, I’m sticking with minutia over minutiae. One of you made such a long, strong argument for it that I could hardly resist.

And actually, I typed “minutia” without even thinking about it. So I might as well stick with the habit.

As for all the requests for info on Hafner’s shoulder, there’s not much I can tell you that hasn’t been reported already. I’ve learned, unfortunately, not to take what a player or a team says about an injury at face value.

All I know is Pronk’s condition proved to be worse than originally expected and took longer to correct than expected. I have no way of knowing how much the shoulder will affect him from this point forward, because, well, no one really does. All the Indians hope is that he’ll return to action with enough season left to prove he can still do damage at the plate.

Fifth-round pick Putnam signed

The Indians have signed fifth-round Draft pick Zach Putnam, a right-hander from the University of Michigan.

 

Putnam, 21, went 9-0 with a 2.58 ERA in 12 starts during his junior year with the Wolverines. He struck out 78 and walked 23 in 76 2/3 innings and was named the District V (Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin) Player of the Year for the second straight year and the Big Ten Pitcher of the Year.

 

Friday is the deadline for signing Draft picks, and second-round pick Curtis Haley, a right-hander from Central Heights (Texas) High School, is unsigned at the moment. But the Indians are expected to come to terms with him by the deadline.

Martinez, Barfield to rehab at Akron

Victor Martinez (right elbow surgery) and Josh Barfield (left middle finger surgery) will both begin a rehab assignment at Double-A Akron this week, with Barfield going out Thursday and Martinez on Friday.

Martinez will DH on Friday and Sunday, while Barfield will start at second base Thursday and play three innings.

The Aeros are only home through Sunday, so the two players will likely head to a new location after that point.

More info will be up on the site later.

UPDATE: Note the change on Barfield. His rehab begins Thursday, not Friday.

Zach Attack

LHP Zach Jackson has been called up and will make Thursday’s start against the Orioles, in place of Paul Byrd. Jackson, one of three Minor Leaguers the Indians received in exchange for CC Sabathia (with a fourth still to come), was 3-1 with a 4.05 ERA in eight games, including four starts, at Triple-A Buffalo.

Aaron Laffey was passed over for this opportunity. The Indians have said they want to get Laffey straightened out before they bring him back up.

If I should fall behind…

So, Paul Byrd was traded to the Red Sox. But you already knew that. My attempts to place that information in this blog as the deal went down Tuesday were thwarted by my wireless card’s decision to die on me at the airport.

Well, the card is up and running now, just in time for me to inform you that the blog entries will be sporadic, at best, over the course of the next week or so, mainly because I’m in D.C., helping out with MLB.com’s coverage of the owners’ meetings. So the minutiae will be kept to a minimum.

And yes, it’s minutiae, not minutia, as I’ve been writing it for the length of this blog’s existence. My thanks to the reader who pointed out this mistake in the comments section. The question that arises is this: Do I stick with the erroneous “minutia,” for the sake of tradition? Or do I switch to the correct, plural “minutiae” from this point forward? I’m all for being accurate, but I’m also a sucker for tradition, so I’m torn. Perhaps you have an opinion on the matter. And if you do, might I ask why?

Anyway, sorry to see Byrd go, though the Indians will certainly benefit from having a couple million bucks in their back pocket. Byrd is a true gentleman and class act, a great storyteller and, most important for people in my line of work, a superb postgame quote, win or lose. I wish him well in Boston.

~AC

When the music begins to play, you're automatically on your way

For the road trip to Toronto over the weekend, I grabbed a handful of new (or, at least, newish) CDs. My buddy Brian has a blog in which he offers up two-word movie reviews. Allow me to one-up him and provide three-word music reviews…

Mark Knopfler — Kill to Get Crimson: Color me impressed.

The Hold Steady – Stay Positive: I’m feeling ambivalent.

Counting Crows — Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings: One bad weekend.

Mudcrutch — Self-titled: Tom Petty’s finished.

The Black Keys — Attack and Release: Seek and purchase.

There. I just saved you the $4.99 cover charge for Rolling Stone. You can thank me later. In the meantime, here are tonight’s lineups…

INDIANS (52-64): CF Grady Sizemore, LF David Dellucci, RF Ben Francisco, SS Jhonny Peralta, DH Shin-Soo Choo, 1B Ryan Garko, C Sal Fasano, 3B Andy Marte, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. RHP Fausto Carmona (5-4, 4.46).

ORIOLES (56-60): 2B Brian Roberts, RF Nick Markakis, 3B Melvin Mora, DH Aubrey Huff, 1B Kevin Millar, LF Luke Scott, C Ramon Hernandez, CF Jay Payton, SS Alex Cintron. RHP Dennis Sarfate (4-2, 4.58).

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • These two teams haven’t faced each other in 461 days, their last meeting coming May 7, 2007, at Camden Yards. In the time between, the Indians have played the Reds 12 times and the Tigers 30 times.
  • Cliff Lee is the first Major League pitcher to begin a season 16-2 since Pedro Martinez did so with the Red Sox in 2002. Lee is the first Indians’ pitcher to win 16 of his first 18 decisions. Lee accounts for 30.8 percent of the Tribe’s wins this season, which is the largest percentage for a pitcher in baseball.
  • Jhonny Peralta now has four more extra-base hits than A-Rod (55 to 51).
  • Double-A Akron LHP Scott Lewis was named the Bank of America Pitcher of the Week after going 1-0 with a no-decision in two starts last week. He allowed just one run on five hits with two walks and 15 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings. Lewis has allowed just two earned runs over his last seven starts.
  • Here’s a leftover quote from Kelly Shoppach on his impressive bat-breaking incident Sunday in Toronto. He was asked if he can break a bat over his head. “I’ve seen it done, but that’s not something I need to learn. I’m just stubborn enough to try it.”
  • Shoppach, by the way, struck out nine times in 14 plate appearances in the Toronto series. I guess the surprise is that he only broke one bat. 
  • Paul Byrd will have a pair of signings for his recently released book, “Free Byrd,” at Indians Team Shops. The first will take place at South Park Team Shop on Friday, Aug. 15, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The second will be at the Progressive Field Team Shop on Wed., Aug. 20, also from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. All appearances are subject to Byrd actually being a member of the Indians.
  • Uh, you can vote Slider into the Mascot Hall of Fame at www.mascothalloffame.com. You know, if you’re into that sort of thing. The other nominees are Otto the Orange (Syracuse), Rocky (Denver Nuggets), Billy the Marlin and the Stanford Tree. Vote wisely.

~AC

Everybody knows this is nowhere

The Buffalo Bills will play eight preseason and regular season games here at the Rogers Centre over the next five years, including an exhibition game Thursday night against the Steelers.

Now, let’s make one thing clear. I like Toronto. It’s a wonderful city, even if they do substitute plum sauce for BBQ sauce. And I understand the Bills wanting to take a regional approach toward the marketing of their team, especially when you consider the team will reportedly receive about $10 million in rights fees for each game.

But as if this whole situation wasn’t already a slap in the face to Bills fans in Buffalo, the city of Toronto is controlling all tailgating activities surrounding Thursday’s games. In accordance with the city’s staunch stance against public intox, the tailgate will be strictly regulated. Fans won’t be able to bring and consume their own food and drink. They won’t even be able to hang out near their own cars and trucks. Rather, they’ll be forced to attend a city-hosted tailgate in which food and drink must be purchased on-site and only those of legal drinking age may attend.

“I think there’s a certain skepticism among the intelligentsia of the American sporting world that we Torontonians can tailgate with the best of them,” Adrian Montgomery, the general manager of the Toronto Bills’ series, told the Globe and Mail, “so here’s our opportunity to show them that we’re up to the challenge.”

Well, here’s an outsider’s view from one member of the “skeptical intelligentsia” who won’t be attending this lame tailgate: Get your own team, Canada. And if your tailgate doesn’t include BBQ, a war might break out.

Suffice to say there is no tailgating taking place outside today’s Indians-Jays game. Nonetheless, here are today’s lineups…

INDIANS (51-64): CF Grady Sizemore, DH David Dellucci, C Kelly Shoppach, SS Jhonny Peralta, LF Shin-Soo Choo, 1B Ryan Garko, RF Franklin Gutierrez, 3B Andy Marte, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. LHP Cliff Lee (15-2, 2.58).

BLUE JAYS (59-58): RF Marco Scutaro, 2B David Eckstein, CF Alex Rios, DH Vernon Wells, LF Adam Lind, C Rod Barajas, 1B Lyle Overbay, 3B Scott Rolen, SS John McDonald. RHP Scott Richmond (0-1, 4.91).

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • It’s looking like Victor Martinez (right elbow surgery) will go out on a rehab assignment next weekend. The location is still yet to be determined. Josh Barfield (left middle finger surgery) should also be ready for a rehab around that time, and it’s possible Travis Hafner (right shoulder weakness) won’t be far behind, according to manager Eric Wedge.
  • Dellucci is having a great trip. He’s 10-for-16 with a double, a walk, five RBIs, four runs scored and two homers. “He’s hitting the ball hard,” Wedge said. “I think he’s staying through the ball a little better. The balls he used to roll on he’s shooting through the middle.”
  • LHP Aaron Laffey had a nice outing for Triple-A Buffalo last night, tossing eight scoreless innings in which he allowed just four hits with a walk and nine strikeouts in his second start since his July 26 demotion. “He put the ball on the ground, was strong and efficient,” Wedge said. “He’s going to be in our rotation [eventually]. We’re confident he’ll get back to where he needs to be.” 
  • Down at Double-A Akron, LHP Scott Lewis gave up just one unearned run on four hits over 7 2/3 innings, and LHP Chuck Lofgren worked 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief to get the win at Trenton. Lofgren has been pitching in relief since July 9 and has a 2.95 ERA out of the ‘pen, while Lewis is 3-1 with a 0.73 ERA in eight starts since July 1. 
  • Lee is taking part in this year’s Direct Energy Backyard Challenge contest. One lucky fan will win the opportunity to host a Wiffle ball game at home that Lee will attend. Interested fans can register at www.directenergy.com/gotribe until Sept. 5. No purchase is necessary. Sizemore took part in the contest last year.
  • Indians starting pitchers are 6-4 with a 3.90 ERA over hte last 13 games.
  • Former Indians pitcher Jason Davis makes his debut in the Pirates’ rotation today.

Lastly, I want to send a shout-out to David Briggs, who is in attendance today and, well, asked for a blog shout-out. Briggs was a standout associate reporter for MLB.com and Indians.com last season, and he’s now doing a fine, fine job helping Mike Harrington with the Buffalo News’ coverage of the Bisons. I’d say he’s doing a fine job covering today’s game, if it weren’t for the fact that he overslept after staying up late watching the Olympics with his Chinese roommate and just arrived, 45 minutes before game time.

~AC 

"You like-a the juice, eh?"

In many ways, Toronto seems like it could be a major American city. But every so often, a simple incident occurs that profoundly reminds us we are in the land of loonies and toonies.

Josh Weir, who covers the Tribe for the Canton Repository, just had one of those moments, when he went to a Rogers Centre concession stand and ordered up some chicken fingers.

“Do you want plum sauce with that?” the woman at the register asked.

“Plum sauce?!”

I reiterate: Plum sauce? We were struck plum dumb by this.

I did a quick Wikipedia search for plum sauce and found it is a “viscous, light brown sweet and sour condiment.” At first, I read this entry too quickly and thought it was described as a “vicious” light brown sweet and sour condiment. That would have been much more fun. I’d like to eat something vicious. Sounds adventurous.

Anyway, Josh opted against the plum sauce. And his request for BBQ sauce was shot down. Apparently they don’t eat their chicken fingers with BBQ sauce here.

“I thought I was really going to like Toronto,” Josh said. “Now, I just want to go home.”

Alas, we have two more days in the Great White North. So let’s get to today’s lineups…

INDIANS (50-64): CF Grady Sizemore, DH David Dellucci, C Kelly Shoppach, SS Jhonny Peralta, RF Shin-Soo Choo, LF Ben Francisco, 1B Ryan Garko, 3B Andy Marte, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. RHP Paul Byrd (6-10, 4.72).

BLUE JAYS (59-57): 2B Joe Inglett, 3B Marco Scutaro, CF Alex Rios, LF Adam Lind, 1B Lyle Overbay, DH Matt Stairs, RF Brad Wilkerson, C Gregg Zaun, SS John McDonald. RHP Roy Halladay (13-8, 2.77).

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Garko has paid his penance and been admitted back into the lineup after failing to run out a grounder to first on Wednesday. “We had a good talk [Friday],” Eric Wedge said. “Hopefully he’ll be a better ballplayer for going through something like this.”
  • Wedge acknowledges that RHP Jensen Lewis’ velocity still isn’t where it was in ’07. Last year, Lewis’ fastball ranged from 88 to 94 mph. He’s made progress after a slow start this year, but he’s still maxing out around 91 or 92. “It’s enough [velocity] if you have some pitchability,” Wedge said, “and he does.” Lewis is the Tribe’s latest in a long line of “closers” after his strong performance Friday night.
  • You’ve gotta love the Jays squeezing Inglett, Scutaro and Johnny Mac into a single lineup.
  • Peralta is now tied for 10th in the AL in runs scored, with a team-high 72. He has as many extra-base hits as MVP candidate Josh Hamilton (55).
  • Shoppach is tied with A-Rod for 14th in the AL with 15 second-half RBIs.
  • Since signing his first professional contract on July 10, third-round pick Cord Phelps, a second baseman, is batting .317 with five doubles, seven RBIs and seven runs scored in 10 games at Mahoning Valley.
  • After his win over the Nats last night, CC Sabathia is now 6-0 with a 1.58 ERA in seven starts for the Brewers. I’d say he’s a fan of those NL lineups.

 ~AC

Anthony works in a grocery store, but not for the Indians

Well, it appears I pulled a bit of a head-fake here. And it wasn’t even intentional. When I wrote the prompt below for someone to name the last Anthony to play for the Indians, I mistakenly assumed there was an Anthony who has played for the Indians.

Shortly after posting that item, I glanced down the Indians’ all-time roster to find — lo and behold — Anthony Reyes is the first. Unbelievable.

Bart Swain asked if Tonys — such as Tony Bernazard, Tony Curry, Tony Pena — should count, and answer is simple. No. No. A thousand times no. I hate the name Tony (apologies to all Tonys… or is it Tonies?) Tony has always struck me as the name of a plumber with greasy elbows (apologies to all plumbers… and all people with greasy elbows). I do not associate Anthonys with Tonys. We are separate entities entirely.

I turned to Bart and asked, “How could this be?” In their 107-year history, the Indians have had a Heinz, a Seabron, a Chico, a Coco, an Asdrubal, an Elmer, a Napoleon, a Barney, a Merten, an Ossee, a Bubba, a Tito and a Hoot, but never an Anthony?

Bart said, “If you think about it, there are very few Anthonys in baseball.”

“What are you trying to say?” I asked.

“It seems to me to be a general lack of talent,” he replied.

So thank you, Anthony Reyes. This is one for our side!

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