August 2008

See the sky about to rain

Greetings from the SkyDome, now known as the Rogers Centre… and a dump.

The SkyDome opened in dramatic fashion in 1989. The opening celebration included performances from a host of Canadian entertainers. The night ended with the premier of the province of Ontario flashing a laser pointer toward the dome as a cue to open the roof for the first time. A song with the lyrics, “Open up, open up the dome” was sung.

It would have been a very poignant moment, had the 50,000 in attendance not been drenched by rain.

And if that all doesn’t sound pathetic enough, the event was hosted by Alan Thicke.

Anyway, that’s all ancient history, and the Rogers Centre has found new ways to make things interesting — such as having members of the media punch in a confusing, 26-character password for wireless Internet access. And it must be typed in twice. This is the second-most annoying thing to come out of Canada (Nickelback being the first, of course).

Here are tonight’s lineups…

INDIANS (49-64): CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Jamey Carroll, C Kelly Shoppach, SS Jhonny Peralta, DH Ben Francisco, LF Shin-Soo Choo, RF Franklin Gutierrez, 1B Andy Gonzalez, 3B Andy Marte. RHP Anthony Reyes (2-1, 4.91).

BLUE JAYS (59-56): 2B Joe Inglett, RF Brad Wilkerson, CF Alex Rios, 1B Lyle Overbay, C Rod Barajas, LF Adam Lind, DH Matt Stairs, 3B Scott Rolen, SS John McDonald. LHP David Purcey (1-2, 8.35).

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Ryan Garko remains benched by Eric Wedge as a result of his lack of hustle on that groundball the other day in Tampa. “I’m not sure when I’m going to put him out there,” Wedge said.
  • Victor Martinez (right elbow surgery) took batting practice, threw to the bases and ran the bases for the second time today, and it went well. The Indians hope to get him out on a rehab assignment sometime in the middle of next week.
  • Josh Barfield (left middle finger sprain) has also begun taking BP and should be ready for a rehab by the end of next week.
  • The Indians hope Travis Hafner (weak right shoulder) will be ready to take batting practice with the team by the end of next week.
  • Jhonny Peralta (2008) and Joe Carter (1986) are the only Indians to have two, five-hit games in a single season in the last 52 years. Carter actually did it three times in that ’86 season.
  • According to Elias, Peralta is the first player with two, five-hit, three extra-base hit games in losses in a season since Vern Stephens of the St. Louis Browns in 1942.
  • Reliever Jensen Lewis apparently wowed his teammates in the clubhouse with his “Guitar Hero” skills before batting practice. He played songs from the Rolling Stones, Metallica and Stevie Ray Vaughn, among others. I was not a witness to this event, but video assistant Bill McCracken confirmed, “He was awesome. He was in the zone.” But Lewis couldn’t quite nail the solo at the end of Metallica’s “One.” I hear it’s pretty tricky.

Bonus points to the first person who can remember the last player named Anthony to play for the Tribe.

~AC

Off day minutia

Got a few things for you…

  • According to PR guru Bart Swain, Travis Hafner took soft toss today with hitting coach Derek Shelton and tolerated it well. The latest test on Hafner’s right shoulder showed it is 75 percent as strong as his left shoulder, which is said to be an improvement. No word yet on a timetable for Hafner to progress to live BP and a rehab assignment. I’m sure we’ll have more info in Toronto tomorrow.
  • The Indians have signed seventh-round Draft pick Tim Fedroff, an outfielder from the University of North Carolina. Fedroff hit .404 with 12 homers and 71 RBI this season, helping the Tar Heels advance to the College World Series.
  • Among the Tribe’s remaining unsigned picks are second-round selection Curtis Haley and fifth-round pick Steven Putnam. The deadline for signing Draft picks is Aug. 15.
  • Quite a few people have written in wondering how Brendan Donnelly will be eligible for free agency after this season, considering he won’t have six years of big-league service time at that point. Well, assistant GM Chris Antonetti told me Donnelly and the Indians negotiated a clause in his contract that allows him to pursue free agency after this year.
  • Brett Favre has been traded to the Jets. You heard it here first. Or 972nd.

And let’s quell the speculation on Byrd, relative to Reyes’ promotion and Friday start. Byrd has not been traded — at least not yet. He’s starting Saturday in Toronto.

~AC 

Reyes, Donnelly coming up; Ginter to DL, Mastny optioned

Starter Anthony Reyes and reliever Brendan Donnelly will join the Tribe in Toronto on Friday. Reyes, brought into the organization in a trade with the Cardinals on July 26, will be called up from Triple-A Buffalo and will make Friday's start.

 

Donnelly, signed to a Minor League deal so that he could rehab after Tommy John surgery in the organization, will have his contract purchased from Buffalo.

 

To make room for the pair of pitchers, the Indians will place Matt Ginter on the 15-day disabled list with a right forearm strain and option reliever Tom Mastny to Buffalo.

 

The Indians acquired Reyes in the hope that he could put his struggles in the St. Louis rotation and bullpen behind him and help out their rotation going forward. Thus far, he's responded at Buffalo with a 2-0 record and 2.77 ERA in two starts.

 

Reyes, 26, was once considered the Cards' top prospect, and he won Game 1 of the 2006 World Series.

 

Donnelly is a former All-Star reliever with the Angels. He had a 1.58 ERA in 2003, serving as the setup man to Troy Percival.

 

After rehabbing in Winter Haven, Fla., for several months, Donnelly made two appearances at Class A Kinston and six at Buffalo. With the Bisons, he went 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA, striking out five and walking one in six innings.

 

While the Indians have no contractual claim to the 37-year-old Donnelly beyond this season, they want to get a look at him to know if he is worth pursuing for 2009.

"I've got a fever…"

Somebody asked for a Happy Hoofers update from yesterday. I had it wrong... it wasn't so much a sock hop as it was a 1940s-style flapper dance. In any event, it was life-altering ... and likely not in a positive way.

 

I'm a much bigger fan of the Rays' "Defenders of the Game" cartoons, which, if you haven't already, you should check out here.

 

The Rays also encourage their fans to bring cowbells to the games and urge them on with Will Ferrell-inspired requests for "More Cowbell!"

 

I'll say this about The Trop, pop maching problems aside. If this team makes the playoffs, this could be a really, really tough place to play. It gets pretty loud in here when there's only 17,000 fans in the seats. Fill it up, get those cowbells going and add in the excitement of October baseball being played in this area for the first time, and it could be quite an atmosphere.

 

And I'm sure the Happy Hoofers will be very, very excited, as well.

"I don't want a large Farva, I want a … liter of cola!"

After a decade of trial and error, the Rays have figured out that whole "contention" thing.

 

Their ballpark, on the other hand, remains a work in progress.

 

My newfound favorite feature of Tropicana Field is the press box pop machine. On Monday, a sign on the machine informed us that we are to drink the pop emanating from the device at our own risk. The disturbing sign did not provide further details, but suffice to say I stuck with water.

 

On Monday night, a new sign said the machine was now functioning properly but that Mountain Dew was unavailable (which, in my opinion, was a good thing).

 

On Tuesday afternoon, a sign told us the pop was running fine, but no ice was available.

 

And on Tuesday night, another new sign told us to be careful because many of the cups located next to the machine have been leaking lately.

 

I can hardly wait to see what today's sign entails. And here's hoping that whoever is responsible for making all these signs is getting paid overtime.

 

Here are this afternoon's lineups, with plenty of injury updates below...

 

INDIANS (49-63): CF Franklin Gutierrez, 3B Jamey Carroll, LF Ben Francisco, SS Jhonny Peralta, RF Shin-Soo Choo, DH Ryan Garko, 1B Andy Gonzalez, C Sal Fasano, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. LHP Jeremy Sowers (1-6, 5.82). 

 

RAYS (67-45): 2B Akinori Iwamura, CF Ben Zobrist, 1B Carlos Pena, 3B Evan Longoria, C Dioner Navarro, SS Willy Aybar, DH Jason Bartlett, LF Eric Hinske, RF Gabe Gross. LHP Scott Kazmir (8-5, 2.89).

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • Victor Martinez, coming back from right elbow surgery, had a full work day this morning. He did baserunning drills, took batting practice from both sides of the plate and threw to the bases from behind the plate. But Vic is not yet ready to go out on a rehab assignment this weekend, as previously speculated. He's going to need a few of these work days before he's ready for that. Looking more like sometime next week.
  • Kelly Shoppach was on hand to watch Martinez's entire workout. Good teammate.
  • Josh Barfield, coming back from hand surgery, has also begun taking BP and should be ready to go out on rehab sooner than Martinez.
  • Travis Hafner (weak right shoulder) is taking swings off a tee in Cleveland and will have his next strength test Thursday. He'll also begin taking soft toss BP. 
  • I found it interesting that Hafner took those swings off the tee this morning and Wedge was able to watch video of the session mere hours later here in St. Pete. The wonders of modern technology. I wonder if the video is on YouTube. 
  • Wedge wanted to get Grady Sizemore, who is 2-for-17 on this road trip, two consecutive days off (with Thursday's off day). "He's had a lot to handle this year, mentally," Wedge said. "It's important to give him a mental break, as much as anything. But believe me, he doesn't want an off day." 
  • Walking by Rafael Betancourt in the clubhouse this morning, he looked absolutely defeated.
  • Choo is in a 2-for-21 funk with 12 strikeouts in that span.

~AC 

Having a party

Cleveland Indians Charities is holding the annual Hall of Fame celebration in Heritage Park at Progressive Filed on Sunday, Aug. 17.

 

Former players such as Bob Feller, Charles Nagy, Andre Thornton, Max Alvis, Joe Azcue, Len Barker, Sam McDowell and Jim “Mudcat” Grant will all be on hand, as will former first baseman and manager Mike Hargrove, who, along with former second baseman Joe Gordon, will be elected into the team Hall of Fame on Aug. 16.

 

The entire active Indians’ roster will also be attending this event, which includes an autograph session.

 

The VIP reception begins at 6 p.m. ET, the gates open at 6:45 p.m., dinner is served and the silent auction begins at 7 p.m., and the autograph sessions begin at 7:15 p.m. All tickets to the event include food and beverage, admission to the main event, and admission to one, 30-minute autograph session with the active Tribe roster members.

 

Tickets to the VIP reception are $225 and give you the chance to mix and mingle with all the players and coaches. If you prefer to just come for the main event, those tickets are $150.

 

For more information on the event and tickets, visit the Community section of Indians.com.

"But what about Brett Favre-ra?"

I believe this blog is the only sports-related Web site without an hourly Brett Favre update.

You come here, I presume, for the Indians’ lineup. And for useless tidbits of information, such as me noting that I have heard the Rolling Stones’ “Shattered” twice today in two completely different parts of town. Is that significant? Probably not.

You come here to learn that Eric Wedge is a big Frank Sinatra fan. When “I Get a Kick Out of You” came on during BP, Wedge said, “Now this is real music right here.”

And speaking of the oldies, you come here to learn that the Rays have a group of geriatric ladies who do a little sock-hop before Tuesday home games. They’re known as the Happy Hoofers and I am beyond excited to see them for the first time.

Anyway, here are those lineups…

INDIANS (49-62): 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. RHP Fausto Carmona (5-3, 4.19).

RAYS (66-45): 2B Akinori Iwamura, CF B.J. Upton, 1B Carlos Pena, 3B Evan Longoria, LF Eric Hinske, DH Cliff Floyd, C Dioner Navarro, RF Gabe Gross, SS Ben Zobrist. RHP Edwin Jackson (7-7, 4.20).

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Some guy named David Dellucci is 7-for-his-last-15 with two doubles, two homers and five RBIs. He must be new. Looks promising.
  • In addition to being 5-0 against the Rays, the Indians are 12-6 against the AL East. The problem, it seems, is this club was simply mistakenly placed in the wrong division. Is it too late to fix this?
  • Kelly Shoppach’s slugging percentage is up to .537. His OPS of .880 would rank second behind Atlanta catcher Brian McCann’s .949 mark among MLB catchers if Shoppach had the requisite number of plate appearances.
  • On Monday, Aaron Laffey made his first start back at Triple-A Buffalo after a couple work days on the side. Laffey went six innings, giving up four earned runs on seven hits while walking three and striking out four. 
  • LHP Scott Lewis missed most of the first half with a strained back, but he’s coming on strong at Double-A Akron. Lewis has struck out 18 batters over his last 11 2/3 scoreless innings of work, including a career-high 10 strikeouts in a 7-0 win over Altoona on Monday. For the seasons, Lewis is 6-2 with a 2.60 ERA in 12 starts for the Aeros.
  • Andy Marte is 5-for-his-last-38 (.132) over his last 10 games.
  • Team USA took three of four games from Team Canada in an Olympic tune-up. Matt LaPorta hit .313 (5-for-16) with a double, three homers, five RBIs and six runs scored in the series for Team USA, while RHP T.J. Burton worked two scoreless innings for the Team Canada.

~AC 

"I want a decent sock that's comfortable, that will stay on my foot!"

Word to the wise: Never pack for an 8:30 a.m. flight at 12:45 a.m., when you’re half-asleep (or is it half-awake?). If you do, be prepared to make an emergency Wal-Mart run at your destination to do a little sock shopping.

Speaking of Wal-Mart, I really think there should be some sort of IQ test that must be passed before a person is allowed to use one of those self-checkout lines. Can we make this happen?

Well anyway, we’re here in St. Pete, I’ve got some new socks and the big dome at The Trop is saving us from the humidity. Here are the lineups for the Tribe’s first of three games against the first-place Rays (will it ever not be weird to say that?)…

INDIANS (48-62): CF Grady Sizemore, DH David Dellucci, LF Ben Francisco, SS Jhonny Peralta, C Kelly Shoppach, 1B Ryan Garko, 3B Andy Marte, RF Franklin Gutierrez, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. LHP Cliff Lee (14-2, 2.58).

RAYS (66-44): 2B Akinori Iwamura, CF B.J. Upton, 1B Carlos Pena, 3B Evan Longoria, C Dioner Navarro, SS Willy Aybar, LF Eric Hinske, DH Jonny Gomes, RF Gabe Gross. RHP Matt Garza (9-6, 3.56).

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Victor Martinez, who will probably go out on a rehab assignment this coming weekend, did some baserunning drills for the first time today. 
  • Trade bait Paul Byrd has lowered his ERA from 5.53 to 4.72 over his last four starts, in which he’s 3-0 with a 1.73 ERA.
  • Shoppach is batting .308 (40-for-130) with 14 doubles, nine homers and 26 RBIs in 38 games since taking over the regular catching duties on June 12. His five homers in the second half are tied for the third-most in the AL, and he’s batting .405 (17-for-42) over 11 games since July 20. Shoppach is third among MLB catchers with 12 homers this season.
  • Keep your eyes on Anthony Reyes down at Buffalo, as he might be due to join the Indians’ rotation before long. Reyes went eight innings in a 2-1 win over Syracuse, allowing just a run on five hits with no walks and four strikeouts. He is now 2-0 with a 2.77 ERA in two outings since joining the organization on July 26. He is 4-3 with a 3.15 ERA in 13 starts at the Triple-A level this season.
  • The notes handed to the media inform us that the Indians have won 11 of their last 20.
  • I’ll add that they’ve also lost nine of their last 20.  
  • The Tribe has lost 14 of 18 on the road.
  • C Carlos Santana, the key acquisition in the Casey Blake trade, became the first Minor Leaguer this season to drive in his 100th run. He was 2-for-5 with a homer and two RBIs in Class A Kinston’s 10-8 win at Salem on Sunday. Santana also leads the Minors with 96 runs scored. In seven games at Kinston, Santana is batting .379 (11-for-29) with a double, triple, homer, four RBIs and a 1.005 OPS. I’d expect to see him in Double-A somewhat soon.
  • During the Indians’ early batting practice session, the house speaker played Vanessa Williams’ “Save the Best for Last.” Odd. Not exactly a pump-up tune.

~AC

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