Come together right now over me
I'd like to think I had a pretty diverse lunch table in high school.
You know how it is in the movies. The jocks sit with jocks. The nerds sit with nerds. The cheerleaders all sit together and, presumably, talk about how attractive the members of the school paper's reporting staff are. Pretty basic stuff.
That's not how it was at my table. We had a pretty eclectic mix. We had a lineman from the football team, a member of the show choir, a couple weird guys, a couple smart guys, a couple funny guys. We were bonded, I believe, by the air hockey table in the break room. We'd take on various freshmen in the room and usually beat them (except for this one extremely talented kid whose real name we never came to learn. We simply referred to him as "God").
And the air hockey precedent holds true. Sports (yes, I'm using that term quite loosely) can bring a diverse group of individuals together.
I mention this because someone asked about clubhouse cliques, and I am trying to come up with the best way to describe the Indians' clubhouse. There are certainly cliques involved. Latin guys will always tend to congregate with other Latin guys, for instance. Young Minor Leaguers congregate with other young Minor Leaguers. And without naming names, every once in a while a guy like Jason Johnson comes along and doesn't really make friends with anybody (I guess I did name names). But those are the exceptions that prove the rule.
My point is that it always strikes me how well guys brought into this organization mesh with other guys. You wouldn't know, for example, that Mark DeRosa, Kerry Wood, Joe Smith and Carl Pavano just got here. They have fit in very well.
Players who come over here - and Joe Borowski used to say this all the time -- tend to remark that this is a rather unique environment in which players check their egos at the door. Those who don't get called out or, worse, ostracized entirely.
So it's a lot like my lunch table, minus the air hockey (which is a shame, for the record) and plus the Affliction t-shirts (which is even more of a shame).
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...
- Victor Martinez won't talk much about how much pain he was in when playing through that elbow soreness last season, but he will talk about how painful it was to be away from the game for two and a half months. He had some real nice things to say about his love for the game. "You look around, and we're blessed to be here, wearing a big-league uniform with nice shoes, nice batting gloves, looking good," he said. "What else can you ask for? You just need to go out and enjoy it."
- The Indians will move part of their workout to the Goodyear Ballpark tomorrow, as part of a Fan Fest in which the locals can get a look at the new park. The gates open at 10 a.m. local time, and the Tribe will hold fundamental drills beginning at 10:30 a.m. The live batting practice sessions, however, will remain on the back fields.
- Josh Barfield looked pretty good moving around at third base today. Wedge, for one, was impressed. "Better than what I'd expect to see for the first time over there," Wedge said.
- Luis Valbuena has made a fine first impression here, at the plate and in the field. He's been taking some grounders at shortstop, but Wedge said he'll only look at him at second base when the games start.
- Wedge said the bullpen battle goes a lot further than just that one open spot on the Opening Day roster. "It's also who's going to be the first guy we call or the second guy, depending on what happens," Wedge said. "They're pitching to make an impression with regard to this year."
- Speaking of the bullpen mix, Juan Salas gets here Saturday night and should be in camp on Sunday for his physical.
- Reader Jim D. points out that the Indians have had four players whose last name is a palindrome -- Toby Harrah, Dave Otto, Mark Salas and, now, the new Salas. Jim claims that is a Major League record, though I don't have that confirmed. Granted, none of these names are as complex as my all-time favorite palindrome, "so many dynamos," but it's still pretty cool. I've done a quick look through the all-time roster to see if there are any others we're missing, but I don't see any. Let me know if you discover otherwise.
- Speaking of last names, I've decided the only reason I didn't become a pro ballplayer is because of my 11-letter last name. It's at least one -- and probably two -- letters too long to look presentable on the back of a jersey. Rafael Betancourt, for example, is at the 10-letter mark, and his name is in danger of becoming a half-circle on the back of his jersey. Just doesn't look right.