February 2009

I have to get up and climb that hill again

The Indians last played at Phoenix Municipal Stadium in 1992. The concourse and press box have been renovated since then. The mountains in the distance, on the other hand, haven't moved.

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • Not sure what to make of the news that Adam Miller has soreness in his right middle finger. Frankly, you take any negative news regarding Miller's physical condition at its worst and work your way down from there. His history has allowed no other perspective. For now, Eric Wedge insists this is nothing major, but I'll provide another update on his condition Sunday.
  • As reported in that Miller story, Travis Hafner and David Dellucci are both expected to join in on the Cactus action later in the coming week. The non-injured Cliff Lee will also make his first start around that time.
  • Apparently the pitchers are now ahead of the hitters, as there was a grand total of six hits today between the Indians and A's.
  • Carl Pavano looked good today -- as good as you can look the first time out. He threw two perfect innings, getting five groundball outs. When asked the last time he felt this good, he replied, "I don't know if I can think back that far."
  • Scott Lewis also pitched well in two scoreless innings. He hit a batter to open one inning and walked a guy to open the other but worked his way out of trouble each time. "The game doesn't speed up on him," Eric Wedge said of Lewis. "He does a good job staying in his tempo and his routine."
  • Matt Cassel, better known as Jack Cassel's brother, was traded from the Patriots to the Chiefs today.
  • Single-game tickets are now on sale for all the Indians' home games. You can get them right here. If you buy four or more tickets today or tomorrow, you get a free Grady Sizemore fleece blanket (and, for the person who asked, it's a different blanket than the one given out at the games last year).
  • Wedge has been impressed with what he's seen from right-hander Hector Rondon, who worked a scoreless eighth. "He has a live arm and a good fastball," Wedge said. Rondon went 11-6 with a 3.60 ERA in 27 starts at Class A Kinston last year and was added to the 40-man roster at season's end.
  • Happy birthday to Indians PR director Bart Swain.

~AC

2/28: Indians at A's

Here are the lineups for today’s scintillating action at Phoenix Municipal Stadium…

INDIANS: 2B Josh Barfield, 3B Mark DeRosa, RF Ben Francisco, C Kelly Shoppach, 1B Beau Mills, LF Matt Laporta, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, CF Michael Brantley, DH Chris Gimenez. RHP Carl Pavano.

Also available to pitch: LHP Scott Lewis, LHP Rafael Perez, RHP Ed Mujica, RHP Matt Herges, RHP Vinnie Chulk, LHP Rich Rundles, RHP Greg Aquino and RHP Jack Cassel.

ATHLETICS: RF Travis Buck, CF Ryan Sweeney, LF Matt Holliday, DH Eric Chavez, C Landon Powell, 3B Jack Hannahan, SS Cliff Pennington, 1B Sean Doolittle, 2B Adrian Cardenas. LHP Dallas Braden.

Today’s game is on WTAM 1100 and the Indians Radio Network. No TV.

He who waits for the day's riches will be lost

Today's 5-3 triumph over the Padres marked the Indians' first Cactus League victory since 1992.

 

Hey, the desert has been known for prolonged droughts, right?

 

That wasn't the only noteworthy item of the day, of course...

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • Kerry Wood (lower back soreness) threw his bullpen session this morning. Eric Wedge had yet to hear a report on it by the end of the game. "That's probably a good thing," Wedge said. In other words, if Wood was carted off on a stretcher or pronounced done for the season, Wedge probably would have heard about it.
  • Fausto Carmona looked good in two scoreless innings today. He showed control of his sinker -- something we didn't see enough when he was walking 70 while striking out 58 last year. Carmona said the key will be controlling his emotions on the mound. "Sometimes I lost control of myself," he said through an interpreter.
  • Speaking of the interpreter, Carmona told us he's not going to use one the next time we interview him. We'll see how that goes.
  • Victor Martinez went deep twice against the Padres. That's as many homers as he hit all of last season. He had the line of the day when asked about last season: "They already paid me for that season. It's done."
  • Martinez's second homer hit a girl on the arm as she was walking on the right-field concourse. She's apparently all right.
  • Ryan Garko got his first "official" action in left field. The only time it got ugly was when David Eckstein ripped a triple down the third-base line. It probably should have been a double, but Garko was positioned too far in the gap in left-center field. Wedge said the coaching staff takes the blame for that one. Garko did make a catch on the warning track, so that's a positive. "This feels a little more natural than going from catching to first base," he said. "It's gone as well as Eric and I could hope for."
  • When Rafael Betancourt took the mound in the fifth, he was introduced as "John Betancourt." When informed of this, he said, "Maybe I need a new name." Hey, he did pitch a scoreless inning.
  • Joe Smith is back in camp after battling a viral infection the past week. He played catch and ran for about a half hour. No word yet on his schedule regarding bullpen sessions or Cactus League action.
  • Watched Juan Salas throw live batting practice on the back fields this morning. He can definitely make a glove pop, though he seemed a little bit erratic. He said he was really surprised to be designated by the Rays and then traded. In fact, he seemed a little irritated to even be talking about it.

~AC

Sizemore pulls out of World Baseball Classic

Grady Sizemore isn’t going anywhere, after all.

 

Sizemore informed the Indians on Friday morning that he will not be representing the U.S. in the World Baseball Classic because of soreness in his left groin. The Indians passed that information along to Bob Watson, MLB’s vice president of on-field operations, who then confirmed it with Sizemore.

 

While the injury is considered mild, Sizemore didn’t want to push it in meaningful games. He tested it out by stealing a base in the fourth inning of a Cactus League game against the Diamondbacks on Thursday and didn’t feel quite right.

 

Sizemore had been expected to leave camp on Sunday. It would have been his first time playing in the Classic and representing his country. It was not immediately known who would replace Sizemore on Team USA’s 28-man roster. The Brewers’ Ryan Braun, the Tigers’ Curtis Granderson and the Rockies’ Brad Hawpe are the only other outfielders on the U.S. roster.

 

More on the Indians.com site in a little bit. Sizemore will hold a press conference here in about 15 minutes.

 

UPDATE: Sizemore said he’s felt the groin soreness for a little over a week. He injured it while fielding fly balls in the outfield. He played in the Indians’ first two Cactus games to test it out and felt the soreness after each game. He didn’t want to push it any further and risk a more serious injury.

 

Eric Wedge said Sizemore will be held out of action for “a little while.” The exact timetable, of course, will depend on how Sizemore feels. But nobody seems to think this will be a major concern that will affect Sizemore’s ability to start the regular season.

 

Lastly, Phillies OF Shane Victorino has been named Sizemore’s replacement on the Team USA roster.

2/27: Indians vs. Padres

Here's the Tribe lineup for today's action at the Big Chipotle.

 

PADRES: CF Scott Hairston, 2B David Eckstein, 1B Adrian Gonzalez, DH Kevin Kouzmanoff, LF Chase Headley, 3B Edgar Gonzalez, RF Will Venable, C Nick Hundley, SS Luis Rodriguez. RHP Cha Seung Baek.

 

INDIANS: RF Trevor Crowe, 3B Jamey Carroll, SS Jhonny Peralta, C Victor Martinez, LF Ryan Garko, CF Ben Francisco, 2B Tony Graffanino, 1B Michael Aubrey, DH Wyatt Toregas. RHP Fausto Carmona.

 

Also available to pitch: LHP David Huff, RHP Rafael Betancourt, RHP Masa Kobayashi, RHP Adam Miller, RHP John Meloan, RHP Hector Rondon, LHP Ryan Edell and RHP Greg Aquino.

"I can't believe it. He stole my move!"

You know, I’m not one to promote frivolous lawsuits. But if the guy who designed Chipotle wanted to make a few bucks, he could probably put together a pretty strong case against the guy who designed Goodyear Ballpark. I don’t think that would be a suit with much frivol.

Just look…


ballpark_1.jpg


chipotle.jpg

Only their mothers (or architects, as it were) can tell them apart. Anyway, let's go over today's activity at the Big Chipotle.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

  • First off, in my lineups posting below, I gave you the wrong list of available pitchers in the 'pen. That's actually tomorrow's list. So consider it a sneak preview, all right?
  • Wow, we're really going to have some long games here. It was a 3-hour, 22-minute tilt today. Somebody forgot to pack that Florida humidity.
  • Eric Wedge thinks Aaron Laffey, who gave up an unearned run on two hits in two innings against the D-backs today, is handling the battle for a rotation spot much better this year than last. Laffey pressed last year. "He seems to be more comfortable, more relaxed," Wedge said. "He learned a great deal last year, and that's going to help him a great deal this year."
  • Regarding the rotation battle, it's been reported -- and Wedge has said -- that there are two jobs open. That's only true if Anthony Reyes' elbow flares up on him. If Reyes is healthy, he's the fourth starter. Remember he's out of Minor League options.
  • Matt LaPorta lost a ball in the sun (get used to that; it's brutal in left field here) in the top of the second, then cranked out a solo shot off Dan Haren in the bottom of the inning. "I'm impressed with my approach right now," he said. "I'm still getting adjusted to playing again. My timing's coming back. It's going well."
  • The Indians made four errors today. "It's early," Wedge said. "Guys aren't going to be as sharp early on."
  • Shortstop Jesus Merchan got hit by a pitch at the plate and hit by a liner into the Indians' dugout. "He'll be in the cold whirlpool after the game," Wedge said with a laugh.
  • Grady Sizemore and Mark DeRosa leave camp Sunday to join their Team USA teammates in Clearwater, Fla. They'll play in Saturday's game in Phoenix, against the A's.
  • Sizemore was asked if he thinks the World Baseball Classic games will be "intense." His reply: "It's baseball." In other words, no.
  • Don't forget that Saturday is the day single-game tickets go on-sale for all 2009 home games Saturday at 10 a.m. ET. You can buy your tickets right here. If you buy four or more single-game tickets on Saturday or Sunday, you get a free Sizemore fleece blanket.
  • One note on the season schedule: The Sunday, May 31, game against the Yankees has been changed from a 1:05 p.m. ET start to 12:40 p.m., because TBS will broadcast it nationally. In Cleveland, it will be blacked out on TBS but aired on SportsTime Ohio.
  • The Indians aren't just losing nine players to the Classic. Visiting clubhouse manager Willie Jenks left camp today to serve as the head clubbie for the Venezuelan team.
  • I told you about the unnatural obsession with Affliction T-shirts in the Tribe clubhouse, but apparently LaPorta went a little too far. He wore a neon blue shirt to work yesterday, and his teammates abused him by hanging it up in the middle of the clubhouse with a sign that said "Prime Time." 

~AC

Wood participating in workout

Kerry Wood said he will have a full workout session this morning and throw his bullpen session tomorrow. Like Eric Wedge yesterday, he shrugged off his lower back soreness as only a minor concern.

“About once a spring, it’s been doing that,” Wood said of his back. “But I know how to manage it.”

Wood said the issue is probably a result of being on spikes for the first time in a while. He said the best way to handle it is to just get some rest. Wood last threw a bullpen last weekend and missed a live batting practice session. He and the Indians, who were easing him into Cactus League action anyway, both feel he’ll get his sufficient work in this spring.

The silver lining is we have the extra week," Wood said. "We can do whatever we've got to do to get it ready. I have plenty of time to throw and get in the games. I should still get my 12-14 innings in."

Still no word on when Wood is scheduled to make his first exhibition appearance.

May the rising sun caress and bless your soul for all your life

I am the proud possessor of my first sunburn of the year. And in a related note, I can vouch for the view of the action at Goodyear Ballpark from the lawn in right-center field.

 

Oh, but I have been working today, too. I swear. Here, I'll even prove it.

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • Third-base coach Joel Skinner, who works with the catchers, had a great line about Carlos Santana. "I keep waiting for the jack in the box to come out," Skinner said. In other words, Skinner, like a lot of other people here, can't believe the Indians got this guy in the Casey Blake trade. There's got to be a catch, right? Maybe not. The Dodgers, who have Russell Martin, obviously dealt from a position of depth, but Santana seems to have serious star potential. Skinner and others are raving about his swing (and remember, he's a switch-hitter, which is a huge plus) and his arm. He's got the perfect catcher's build, to boot.
  • The Indians have four players in Baseball America's Top 100 prospects list. Santana ranks 26th, outfielder Matt LaPorta is No. 27, outfielder Nick Weglarz is No. 58 and right-hander Adam Miller is No. 82. You can find the complete list right here.
  • Michael Brantley is not on that BA list, but he probably should be. Because of his build, his maturity, his skills and the fact that he's only 21 and still improving, some higher-ups around here are starting to think he might be the best player the Indians acquired last summer.
  • Mark DeRosa christened Goodyear Ballpark with its first home run -- a three-run shot in the third. He scooped up a breaking ball tossed by Keiichi Yabu.
  • Ed Mujica looked awesome on the back fields in live BP. Today, Ed Mujica looked like Ed Mujica.
  • Wedge thought both Mujica (4 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 1 IP) and Vinnie Chulk (3 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 1 K) were overthrowing. "If you do that, you open up and you're not the same guy," Wedge said.
  • If you're looking for a little background on Juan Salas, my MLB.com amigo Jesse Sanchez had a nice blog posting on him last August that you might want to check out.
  • More BP on Field No. 1 for Travis Hafner this morning. And for what it's worth, he hit a couple shots that cleared the scoreboard in right-center field. Victor Martinez also had a nice round of BP, spraying balls to both sides of the field.
  • Another choice quote from Rapid Robert: "If the ballclub's as good as the facilities, they ought to win the World Series in four games."

 ~AC

Wood, Smith held back

This is probably the last thing you wanted to hear on the day games started, but closer Kerry Wood is dealing with a lower back issue.

Eric Wedge said Wood last threw a bullpen over the weekend and it will be a few more days before he starts throwing again. The Indians were planning on holding him out of action for a week or so of the Cactus League action anyway, and Wedge tried to make it clear that this is a minor issue.

“It’s normal for him in the spring,” Wedge said. “We don’t need to rush him. We want him ready for April 6, not March 6.”

I guess we’ll just see how this develops in the coming days.

RHP Joe Smith will also be held back for a few days, as he’s dealing with what they call a “non-baseball medical condition.” In other words, he’s sick.

“He’ll miss a few days, then he should be back out,” Wedge said.

UPDATE: Wood will throw a bullpen session on Friday.

UPDATE No. 2: Sounds like it’s going to be at least another four to six days before Smith rejoins the team, and he’ll then have to play catch-up before he’s ready to get into games. Whatever Smith’s got, trust me, you don’t want it. Sounds pretty nasty.

As for Wood, I’m told the plan was originally for him to appear in two Cactus games before March 10, and that still might happen. So this back issue, if it is, indeed, as minor as it appears, isn’t really much of a setback at all. 

Marte clears waivers, outrighted to Columbus

You can breathe easy. Andy Marte isn’t going anywhere. His memorable tenure with the Tribe continues.

Marte cleared waivers today, so the Indians were able to outright him to Triple-A Columbus. He’ll be back in camp tomorrow as a non-roster invitee.

Wes Hodges is expected to get the bulk of the starts at third base with the Clippers, so you can expect Marte to see time at third, first and at DH.

You can’t help but wonder if Marte might have snuck through waivers a year ago. Obviously, the Indians didn’t think so.

In any event, three years after the Indians touted Andy Marte as their third baseman of the future, they couldn’t even give him away.

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