March 2009

3/17: Indians at Rangers

Today’s 4:05 p.m. ET game is available exclusively through the Gameday Audio feature.

INDIANS: CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Jamey Carroll, DH Travis Hafner, 3B Jhonny Peralta, RF Ben Francisco, C Kelly Shoppach, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, LF Matt LaPorta, 1B Michael Aubrey. LHP Cliff Lee.

Also available to pitch: RHP Kerry Wood, RHP Joe Smith, RHP Masa Kobayashi, LHP Tony Sipp, RHP Juan Salas, RHP Matt Herges, RHP Ed Mujica.

RANGERS: 2B Ian Kinsler, 3B Michael Young, CF Josh Hamilton, RF Nelson Cruz, DH Marlon Byrd, LF David Murphy, 1B Chris Davis, C Jarrod Saltalamacchia, SS Elvis Andrus. RHP Scott Feldman.

This is our kingdom of days

We are now three weeks away from Opening Day. In the meantime, here’s the rundown of yet another “day that ends in y” here at Spring Training camp.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • The Indians are today’s featured team on MLB Network’s “30 Clubs in 30 Days.” The first airing has already come and gone, but you can catch repeats at 11 p.m. ET tonight, and 6 a.m., 8 a.m., 10 a.m., noon and 4:30 ET on Tuesday.
  • Shin-Soo Choo did not play in South Korea’s 8-2 win over Mexico in the opener of Round 2 of the World Baseball Classic at San Diego’s Petco Park on Sunday. Choo gets one day off per round.
  • Head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff will update the media on Adam Miller’s finger condition on Wednesday.
  • No player has improved his organizational stock this spring more than Chris Gimenez, who hit the walkoff three-run homer against the Mariners today. He’s proven he can handle his duties behind the plate, the versatility he provides with his ability to play the corner outfield spots and first base is a plus, and he’s been productive with the bat. He won’t crack the Opening Day roster, but he could be one of the first guys the Indians turn to down at Triple-A Columbus, depending on need.
  • Gimenez also won some points with fans today. As I’m typing this, the game ended about 15-20 minutes ago, and Gimenez is still down there signing autographs for fans lined up down the first-base line. He might have to walk back to the complex, as the last shuttle has likely left for the day.
  • A total of seven double plays were turned by the Indians and Mariners today. I neither know nor care if that’s a Cactus League record.
  • What’s more important is that Jeremy Sowers looked good again. He gave up a run on three hits with a walk and two strikeouts in four innings. Afterward, he credited the immortal Sal Fasano with the improvements he’s made in pitch selection. Fasano encouraged Sowers to begin using his two-seamer to right-handers and his four-seamer to left-handers, which Sowers had not done previously. You can read more about Sowers right here.
  • After a slow start, the rotation battle has heated up with the recent performances of Sowers, Aaron Laffey and Scott Lewis. “You like to see what’s happening with multiple guys,” Eric Wedge said.
  • Still waiting for that big hit that announces Travis Hafner is back. He’s driving the ball consistently in BP but that hasn’t translated into the games. Hitting coach Derek Shelton said Hafner’s improvements in approach from last year to this year are noticeable. He said Hafner got into some bad habits last year as a result of the shoulder problem. 
  • Here’s a choice quote from Shelton on outfield prospect Michael Brantley: “When you talk to him, he’s not a 21-year-old kid. His stages of thought and what he watches with pitchers is advanced, and that’s going to help his progression to the big leagues.”
  • Well, now I’m done typing, and Gimenez is just finishing up. He signed for every last fan who waited and even posed for some photos. You’ve got to love that.

~AC

3/16: Indians vs. Mariners

Today’s 4:05 p.m. ET game at The Big Chipotle is available exclusively on Indians.com via the Gameday Audio feature.

INDIANS: CF Josh Barfield, LF Ben Francisco, DH Travis Hafner, C Victor Martinez, SS Jhonny Peralta, 1B Ryan Garko, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera, 3B Tony Graffanino, RF Trevor Crowe. LHP Jeremy Sowers.

Also available to pitch: LHP Rafael Perez, RHP Vinnie Chulk, RHP John Meloan, RHP Jack Cassel, RHP Greg Aquino.

MARINERS: CF Prentice Redman, C Jeff Clement, 3B Matt Tuiasosopo, DH Mike Sweeney, 1B Chris Shelton, LF Mike Carp, RF Mike Morse, SS Carlos Triunfel, 2B Reggie Corona. RHP Chris Jakubauskas.

"Some might say he was a cockeyed optimist who got caught up in the dirty game of world diplomacy and international intrigue."

My buddy Brian, a Cleveland native now living in Los Angeles, was in town for today's game against the Brewers. And for what it's worth, he's feeling very optimistic about the Indians' chances this year.

 

Then again, keep in mind that this guy was voted Most Optimistic by our senior class at Euclid High School. (I was voted Future Celebrity. Obviously, we didn't graduate with Nostradamus.)

 

Brian campaigned hard for that honor. And when the final results were revealed shortly before graduation, I asked him how it felt be named Most Optimistic.

 

"Honestly," he said, "I didn't think I had a chance."

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • The next round of cuts will be made sometime this week.
  • Kerry Wood worked another scoreless inning in his second spring appearance, though he had the audacity to allow a base hit this time. "I can't complain," Wood said. "I feel I'm back to where I need to be, and I still have plenty of time to get the rest of my innings in. My body feels good. It's just a matter of getting the innings in an fine-tuning my offspeed pitches."
  • Scott Lewis looked really good, allowing a run on three hits with no walks and two strikeouts in four innings. He followed what appears to be an organizational mandate to hit Prince Fielder with a pitch (that's a joke, of course... though Fielder has been hit by three pitches in two games against the Tribe).
  • Anthony Reyes only pitched two innings today. Wedge said Reyes could have gone a third (his pitch count is up around 50), but Reyes has been sick with a touch of the flu bug the last couple days, and Wedge didn't want to push him.
  • Wedge on Lewis: "He's been very good all camp. He's done a good job spotting his fastball and changing speeds. He's picked up where he left off last year." Wedge said Lewis hasn't shown any jitters in competing for that fifth spot.
  • Kelly Shoppach did not make any friends on the opposing side when he flipped his bat after hitting a solo homer off Seth McClung in the second inning. "He hit a home run in Spring Training," McClung said with a sarcastic bite. "Good for him."
  • Grady Sizemore tripled off the right-field wall. "I thought it was out," he said. "I guess that's all I've got. No power."
  • I like the slogan used by the Italian ice vendor here at The Big Chipotle. "Only in America!" he says. "Italian ice!"
  • I hear the lemonade guy in Scottsdale is also pretty good. His line is: "Lemonade, lemonade... like grandma made!"

~AC

Miller to see hand specialist

The strange saga of Adam Miller’s right middle finger continues.

Here’s the latest update: The good news is that the finger is not giving him any pain; the bad news is that he can’t bend the finger at the distal interphalangeal joint — the joint near the end of the finger, below the nail.

Yep, it’s always something.

As Miller said, “It’s the last thing to touch the ball [when he’s throwing], so it’s pretty important.”

Miller first felt a problem with the area on the last pitch of his round of catch on Friday. He was throwing out to 75 feet that day and was expected to throw out to 90 feet today. Instead, he will see Scottsdale hand specialist Dr. Donald Sheridan tomorrow morning. He will also see team hand specialist Dr. Tom Graham, who will be in town for his annual spring visit, on Tuesday.

As you know, Miller’s fickle finger, which was surgically repaired last year and gave him some soreness in camp, already cost him a shot at an Opening Day spot in the bullpen.  

“It’s kind of weird,” Miller said. “I didn’t think you could have this many issues with a finger.”

More updates to come on the site later and in the coming days.

3/15: Indians vs. Brewers

Today’s 4:05 p.m. ET game can be heard live on WMMS 100.7 FM, the Indians Radio Network and through the Gameday Audio feature.

INDIANS: CF Grady Sizemore, RF Jamey Carroll, LF David Dellucci, C Kelly Shoppach, 1B Beau Mills, 2B Tony Graffanino, DH Matt LaPorta, 3B Wes Hodges, SS Andy Cannizaro. LHP Scott Lewis.

Also available to pitch: RHP Kerry Wood, RHP Anthony Reyes, LHP Tony Sipp, RHP Greg Aquino, RHP Juan Salas.

BREWERS: DH Tony Gwynn, CF Lorenzo Cain, SS Craig Counsell, 1B Prince Fielder, 2B Casey McGehee, RF Trot Nixon, 3B Mike Lamp, LF Chris Duffy, C Jonathan Lucroy. RHP Seth McClung.

Cut loose like a deuce

The first cuts of camp have come, and it’s a small group.

Not that he was a favorite for the position anyway, but count left-hander Rich Rundles out of the running for the open bullpen job. He has been optioned to Triple-A Columbus. Rundles, who made his big-league debut with the Tribe toward the end of last season, gave up nine runs (eight earned) on nine hits in four spring innings over five appearances.

Right-hander Tomo Ohka and left-hander Ryan Edell have also been cut loose, reassigned to Minor League camp.

Ohka, a veteran brought in as a non-roster invitee, gave up 10 runs (six earned) on 14 hits in just 3 2/3 innings over three appearances this spring.

Edell, who was in the Double-A Akron rotation last year, got his first taste of big-league camp and gave up a run on two hits with a walk in two innings over three relief appearances.

"It's true! Nobody can do the Switch! It was a stupid idea to begin with!"

Just days after I wrote in an Inbox that the Indians might want to consider having Asdrubal Cabrera bat solely from the right-hand side, he stepped up today and ripped a two-run double off right-hander Cha Seung Baek -- from the left-hand side, naturally.

 

That's just the way these things tend to happen.

 

But the more important matter here is that when Cabrera came out of the game and was asked how long he's been switch-hitting, he said he's been doing it since he was 3 years old.

 

Three?!

 

I couldn't even burp out of both sides of my mouth when I was three, and this guy was switch-hitting. It kind of makes me wonder what kind of journalistic career I might have had if I had attempted switch-writing at a young age. Just think how often that would have saved me from hand cramps while jotting down choice quotes from ballplayers.

 

Ah, what might have been. Here's the rest of today's story.

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • The first round of cuts is coming. I haven't heard an exact date, but it will definitely be any day now. The first cuts are obviously the easiest. None of them will impact the various roster battles taking place.
  • At what point do the Indians express legitimate concern over Masa Kobayashi? Right about now, I'd say. He has a ghastly 15.75 ERA after giving up another three runs on four hits with a walk in one inning against the Padres today. He's not quite up to Aaron Fultz-ian levels yet, but this has been an ugly camp for Kobayashi thus far. "We need to see him turn the corner for us," Eric Wedge said. Stay tuned.
  • Cabrera also said he's lost between 10-15 pounds since arriving to camp early, on Jan. 15. He said he weighs 198 now, versus 210 a year ago.
  • Fausto Carmona was terrific again today. He walked three batters in four innings but held the Padres scoreless on one hit in four innings. "He's doing a good job getting himself back on-line [when he runs into trouble]," Wedge said.
  • Sean Casey's coming to camp. The Mayor, who retired this year and became an analyst on MLB Network, will be in Minor League camp Monday through Thursday as a guest instructor working with the hitters and first basemen.
  • I've mentioned this before, but one guy who has really opened eyes this spring is Chris Gimenez. A year ago, the Indians weren't even sure he could handle catching in the big leagues. Now they're certain of it. And catching might not even be his best position. Wedge said he's comfortable using Gimenez in left, right and first base. "The irony is we signed him as a third baseman," Wedge said with a laugh.
  • The Indians haven't settled on a third catcher going into the season. It's either Gimenez or Wyatt Toregas. They'll both be at Triple-A Columbus. Toregas is excellent behind the plate but shaky at it. Gimenez's versatility (they love that word here) is, of course, a bonus.
  • Jensen Lewis has been pitching like a man possessed this spring, giving up no runs on three hits with six strikeouts in six innings over five appearances so far. He has said all the right things with regard to the Indians' decision to sign Kerry Wood over the winter, but Lewis remains hungry to prove to the higher-ups that he can be a dominant late-inning arm. "We're seeing a lot of good things out of him right now," Wedge said.
  • The members of the Peoria police department have BMW motorcycles. Now that's cool.

~AC

3/14: Indians at Padres

Today’s 4:05 p.m. ET game in Peoria will be broadcast on WTAM 1100 and the Indians Radio Network.

INDIANS: CF Ben Francisco, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera, DH Travis Hafner, C Victor Martinez, SS Jhonny Peralta, 1B Ryan Garko, 3B Josh Barfield, RF Trevor Crowe, LF Michael Brantley. RHP Fausto Carmona.

Also available to pitch: LHP David Huff, RHP Masa Kobayashi, RHP Ed Mujica, RHP Kirk Saarloos, LHP Ryan Edell, RHP Matt Herges, RHP Steven Wright.

PADRES: CF Drew Macias, 2B David Eckstein, RF Brian Giles, DH Cliff Floyd, LF Emil Brown, C Eliezer Alfonzo, 1B Chad Huffman, SS Luis Rodriguez, 3B Travis Denker. RHP Cha Seung Baek.

She was shakin', snappin' her fingers

The sweet sounds of Eddie Money’s “Shakin'” are blaring in an empty Goodyear Ballpark as I type this.

Yep, that’s when you know it’s definitely time to punch out for the day.

But before I go…

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • It was already pretty obvious the Indians look at Laffey as their fifth starter-to-be. He is, after all, the only guy competing for the job who has actually gotten the starting nod in each of his appearances. Today he proved he’ll probably win the job, tossing four perfect innings against the A’s and getting eight groundball outs. Really impressive outing, and Laffey’s confidence is demonstrated in this quote: “I’m taking the mindset that it’s already my spot.” That’s the kind of stuff we heard from Cliff Lee last year.
  • Rafael Perez is back after a dominant run (for him, not his team) in the first round of the World Baseball Classic. Perez pitched one inning in each of the Dominican’s three games and was perfect each time, striking out three batters along the way. Eric Wedge said he’ll ease off Perez the next couple days before bringing him back into the exhibition fold. The Indians have no concerns over how he was used in the Classic because each of his outings was so effortless.
  • Zach Jackson also looked pretty good, for the most part, today. He got into some trouble in the eighth when a fastball got away from him and hit Jack Hannahan in the head. Jackson might profile well for that final bullpen spot, because he could give the Indians length and he’s left-handed (complementing the three right-handed starters).
  • Adam Miller began playing catch Wednesday and threw out to 75 feet today. He’ll throw out to 90 feet Sunday. No word on when he’ll go off a mound, but his return-to-throw was expected to last two weeks total.
  • Jake Westbrook threw 15 pitches off the 10-inch mound this morning. He continues to progress nicely in his return from Tommy John.
  • Nice play for the Tribe in the ninth inning today. Cliff Pennington was on third after tripling off Vinnie Chulk with one out. Joe Dillon hit a grounder to short against a drawn-in infield, and non-roster invitee Wilson Valdez scooped it up and made a nice throw home to catcher Chris Gimenez, who applied the tag for the second out.
  • Finally, a big congrats to Frank Viola’s daughter, Brittany, who has been selected to USA Diving’s 2009 World Championships team. She’ll be competing in Rome in July in the 1-meter and 10-meter diving events.

~AC

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 64 other followers