April 2009

We learned more from a three-minute record than we ever learned in school

The high school students assembled here for the annual Tribe Reporter for a Day program got to sit in on Eric Wedge's pregame press conference, where he divulged that Travis Hafner has been placed on the DL.


I envy those kids. When I worked for Euclid High School's student newspaper, The Survey, back in the day, the closest thing I had to a scoop was when I was granted a sit-down interview with the kid who dressed up as the school mascot. It was invigorating stuff, sure, but it wasn't as cool as sitting in on a press conference with a Major League manager.




  • If I had to guess (and I don't, really, but at least it makes good blog fodder if I do), I'd say David Dellucci replaces Travis Hafner/Rich Rundles in a straight swap before Friday's game. Dellucci was going to be back by the middle of next week anyway, and the Indians are facing three right-handed starters in Motown.
  • I doubt it's going to be Matt LaPorta. I could be wrong, but I'm just not getting a LaPorta vibe around here.
  • The Indians won't stick with 14 pitchers, obviously, but Wedge made it sound as if the bullpen will still be bloated at eight men deep after Friday's move.
  • It will be very interesting to see how long Hafner's shoulder issue lingers. Even if Hafner does indeed make it back in two weeks, I'll be curious to see if this extends the Indians' schedule for limiting him to four or five starts a week. It could be a long time before Pronk is truly an everyday player again.
  • Last night's four-hour, 19-minute game was the longest nine-inning game in Progressive Field history. The previous longest was a four-hour, 10-minute game against the Yankees on June 22, 1996. Who would have thought the two longest games would involve the Yanks and Red Sox? Shocker.
  • Victor Martinez tripled in the first inning tonight. His only other triple came on June 2, 2004, against the Rangers.
  • The Tribe will have the 15th overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft on June 9. John Mirabelli, the Tribe's scouting director, told me this is a pretty deep draft in terms of pitching talent, both at the college and high school levels.
  • Keep your eye on Double-A Akron right-hander Hector Rondon, who continues to dazzle. He won his fourth straight start to begin the year last night, tossing 6 2/3 innings in which he allowed a run on six hits with one walk and a season-high nine strikeouts. The opposition is batting .226 off him and his 1.17 ERA is the fifth-best mark in the Eastern League. Rondon was a non-drafted free agent signed in '04 and he spent last year at Class A Kinston, where he fanned 145 batters.
  • For all his struggles this season, Mark DeRosa entered tonight's game tied for 13th in the AL with 17 RBIs. And then he homered in the second inning.
  • If you're up for some high school ball, don't forget about the Cleveland Indians Charities' High School Hardball Classic at Progressive Field on Friday and Saturday. Twelve local teams will take part, and tickets are just $5 online at Indians.com (day of game tickets will be $7 at the gate). For more information, click here.
  • The Fairview High School baseball team will hold a "Strikeout for the Cure" event to promote breast cancer awareness on Monday, May 11. The players will sport pink jerseys with the names of breast cancer survivors and victims on the back. You can support the cause by pledging $5 to add a name to the jersey, and all proceeds will be donated to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Northeast Ohio affiliate. For more information, contact Liz Haas of Fairview Public Schools at ehaas@fairview.k12.oh.us or coach John Carter at Jcarter52@coxnet.
  • For tomorrow's off day, I'm profiling Tony Sipp, who hopes his ascension to the big leagues will serve as a lesson to the kids in his hometown that there is a way out of rural Moss Point, Miss. I'll also have the latest edition of the Inbox. So look for those links on Indians.com, and we'll meet back here Friday.


Hafner placed on 15-day DL

Travis Hafner right shoulder is causing problems again, and the Indians' designated hitter was placed on the 15-day disabled list shortly before Wednesday's game against the Red Sox.


Manager Eric Wedge said Pronk is battling soreness and fatigue in the right shoulder.


"We don't think it's anything serious," Wedge said. "Hopefully it's just a two-week thing."


Hafner will visit Dr. James Andrews, the surgeon who surgically repaired the shoulder in October. Wedge said the shoulder has been bothering Hafner for three or four days. Pronk was out of the lineup Sunday and Monday.


For now, left-hander Rich Rundles has been called up to take Hafner's place, but just for the night. Wedge said the Indians will explore all options to fill that spot before Friday's game in Detroit. David Dellucci, on a rehab assignment at Columbus, is an option, as is Matt LaPorta. But Wedge made it clear that everybody will get consideration, with the Indians factoring in their upcoming opposing starters and the makeup of the roster.


More info will be up on the site by game time.


Here are tonight's lineups:


INDIANS (8-13): CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera, C Victor Martinez, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 1B Ryan Garko, SS Jhonny Peralta, 3B Mark DeRosa, LF Ben Francisco, DH Kelly Shoppach. RHP Fausto Carmona (1-3, 7.36).


RED SOX (13-7): CF Jacoby Ellsbury, 2B Dustin Pedroia, DH David Ortiz, LF Jason Bay, 3B Mike Lowell, C Jason Varitek, 1B Jeff Bailey, RF Jon Van Every, SS Nick Green. LHP Jon Lester (1-2, 4.88).

You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows

It was 83 degrees at first pitch yesterday. It’s 47 degrees as I type this. I recognize that things change in a hurry in the big leagues, but this is a little ridiculous.


  • As anticipated, Adam Miller had surgery performed on his right middle finger this afternoon at the Curtis Hand Center in Baltimore. The surgery was expected to replace two malfunctioning pulley ligaments with a tendon from Miller’s wrist. The Indians did not have immediate info on how the surgery went.
  • Eric Wedge said David Dellucci should return sometime next week. The reports have been positive on Dellucci’s rehab stint at Triple-A Buffalo. He’s hit in all six games played, including a 3-for-4 effort last night. He’s made one start in the outfield. As for who the Indians will cut loose to make room for Dellucci, I doubt it will be Trevor Crowe. It’s more likely the Indians will use Dellucci’s callup to go back to a 12-man pitching staff.
  • Crowe and Grady Sizemore are still getting a feel for each another in the outfield. They nearly collided two days ago, then both backed off a shallow fly yesterday. “We’ve got two fantastic athletes out there,” Wedge said. “It’s a lot different for Grady because Trevor gets to a lot of balls that other people [in the corner spots] haven’t.”
  • From the no-panic department, the Indians point out in tonight’s game notes that the 2005 club started out 8-12 and was as many as six games under .500 as late as May 20 (17-23) before going on to win 93 games. Of course, that team was eliminated from playoff contention on the last day of the season, and everybody pointed to the slow start as the club’s crippler. So I don’t know if this is an encouraging note or not. I’ll leave that up to you.
  • Here’s an odd note: The Indians are the only team in the Majors without a triple this season.
  • Victor Martinez (seventh, 1.074), Travis Hafner (17th, .958) and Shin-Soo Choo (18th, .957) all rank in the top 20 in the AL in OPS.
  • Josh Barfield has been productive since his demotion to Columbus. He hit a two-run double in a 9-6 loss at Toledo yesterday and is batting .361 (13-for-36) with three doubles, nine RBIs, two walks and three strikeouts in nine games, getting six starts at second and four in the outfield. But Barfield’s already made three errors in the field down there.
  • Class A Kinston second baseman Cord Phelps has an 11-game hitting streak in which he’s batted .432 (19-for-44) with six doubles, a triple and eight RBIs. In Phelps’ first six games of the year, he went 1-for-17, so he’s raised his average from .059 to .328.


4/28: Indians vs. Red Sox

Tonight’s 7:05 p.m. ET game at Progresive Field will be broadcast on WTAM and STO.

cle.gifINDIANS (7-13):
CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera, C Victor Martinez, DH Travis Hafner, 1B Ryan Garko, RF Shin-Soo Choo, SS Jhonny Peralta, 3B Mark DeRosa, LF Ben Francisco. RHP Anthony Reyes (1-0, 4.76).



bos.gifRED SOX (13-6):
CF Jacoby Ellsbury, 2B Dustin Pedroia, DH David Ortiz, 1B Kevin Youkilis, RF J.D. Drew, LF Jason Bay, 3B Mike Lowell, C Jason Varitek, SS Julio Lugo. RHP Brad Penny (2-0, 7.80).

"I wish there were pigmen. You get a few of these pigmen walking around, suddenly I'm looking a whole lot better."

We’re back up and running after a weekend off, and hopefully all of you have steered clear of the swine flu and are ready to talk Tribe.

The swine flu epidemic has everybody up in arms. WTAM radio legend Mark Schwab was worried he might be coming down with a unique mixture of swine flu and bird flu, but I assured him that would only happen when pigs fly.


  • Eric Wedge used his pregame session with reporters to discuss the need for the leaders of this clubhouse to step forward. “We’re still coming together as a team,” Wedge said. He reiterated a lot of what he said Saturday night, when he called out his players for their unsatisfactory offensive approach. “We’re not a young team anymore,” Wedge said. “A lot of our guys are right smack dab in the middle of their career. There are some things happening that shouldn’t be happening.”
  • As expected, Asdrubal Cabrera remained in the No. 2 spot of the lineup today, with Mark DeRosa down at No. 7. DeRosa came into this series with the Red Sox batting .195 with a .609 OPS. “I think it helps the team,” he said of the lineup move. “I don’t think it helps me. But I expected it. It didn’t come as a shock. We find ourselves 7-12, you can’t keep running out the same lineup if it’s not producing runs.”
  • Travis Hafner was out of the lineup for the second straight day and the third time in five games. Wedge made it clear it’s not a physical issue with Pronk, who is only expected to play five or six times a week at this juncture anyway. He just wanted to keep Hafner out of the lineup against Tim Wakefield, because knuckleballers can throw a hitter’s swing out of whack. “[Hafner] has worked so hard to find [his swing],” Wedge said. “We don’t want him to lose it.” Pronk is 0-for-9 in his career against Wakefield.
  • If you’re keeping track of Tony Sipp’s visitor’s log, you can add his father and his brother to the list. They made it here in time to catch Tony in action yesterday, as he got two big outs with the bases loaded in the 4-2 victory over the Twins. “That was the worst of the worst,” Sipp said of facing Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel with the bases jammed. “Getting out of that was big. I was glad to help out in a timely situation.”
  • As for the man Sipp has, essentially, replaced as the late-inning lefty (for the time being, anyway), Rafael Perez encouraged Wedge with his scoreless sixth inning in Saturday’s 7-1 loss. “He was a lot better,” Wedge said. “You could tell from the first pitch. His arm looked good, he was keeping the ball down, and he was throwing good sliders.” Perez has been working on the side with pitching coach Carl Willis and bullpen coach Chuck Hernandez.
  • The Indians are 3-0 in games started by Aaron Laffey and 4-12 in their other 16 games. Laffey is one-third of an inning shy of qualifying for the AL ERA title. He would rank sixth with a 2.41 mark.
  • Everybody’s favorite Twitterer, Matt LaPorta, was named the International League player of the week. For the season, LaPorta has a hit in 14 of 16 games and is batting .400 with three doubles, five homers and 13 RBIs. He hit .520 with a .613 on-base percentage for the week.
  • First baseman Matt McBride, a converted catcher, has an 11-game hitting streak at Class A Kinston. He’s hit .432 (19-for-44) with four doubles, three homers and 13 RBIs during the streak.
  • Also at Kinston, third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall (grand slams in back-to-back games and homers in three straight) and right-hander Eric Berger (10 scoreless innings over two starts) were named the Carolina League player and pitcher of the week.
  • The Indians scored 22 runs on April 18. They have scored a total of 22 runs in the seven games since.


4/27: Indians vs. Red Sox

Tonight’s 7:05 p.m. ET game at Progressive Field will be broadcast on WTAM 1100 and STO.

cle.gifINDIANS (7-12):
CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera, 1B Victor Martinez, RF Shin-Soo Choo, DH Ryan Garko, SS Jhonny Peralta, 3B Mark DeRosa, C Kelly Shoppach, LF Trevor Crowe. LHP Cliff Lee (1-3, 5.25).



bos.gifRED SOX (12-6): CF Jacoby Ellsbury, 2B Dustin Pedroia, DH David Ortiz, 1B Kevin Youkilis, LF Jason Bay, 3B Mike Lowell, RF Jeff Bailey, C George Kottaras, SS Nick Green. RHP Tim Wakefield (2-1, 2.45).

Need a big weekend, kick up the dust

I’m off this weekend, and, therefore, so is the blog. So I’ll leave you to dissect the ridiculousness of the Cliff Lee trade “rumors” (anybody happen to notice it’s only April 23?) and the high-stakes drama that is the weekend series with the Twins.

We’ll meet back here Monday.

No rest for the wicked

Matt Whewell, of the Indians’ media relations department, confessed to being a fan of a recent “three-word music review” entry in this blog.

keepithid.JPGMatt shared a couple CDs with me, and I will now review them here in the latest installment of this highly popular* feature:

*popularity not guaranteed

Dan Auerbach: “Keep it Hid” — Worth unearthing.

Cage the Elephant: “Cage the Elephant” — No snout about it.

(That’s a two-word review and a four-word review, thus averaging out to three words each.)


  • Pitching coach Carl Willis said he had a good work day with Rafael Perez on Tuesday, and he was hoping to have another this morning. “Though the results [of Perez’s outings] have been uncharacteristic, delivery-wise he’s not that far off,” Willis said. “He’s making strides. He’s a slow-starter, but I feel confident he’s going to get the results.”
  • Still don’t have a concrete timetable for Scott Lewis’ return, but he’s playing catch and will report to the Goodyear complex this week. Willis said Lewis won’t have to “start from scratch,” but will probably start out throwing 54- or 65-pitch outings when he first takes the mound for simulated sessions.
  • Tony Sipp turned in an impressive debut last night (tossing a perfect ninth), and his mom, Evon, was in attendance after catching a last-minute flight from Moss Point, Miss. “I called her about 11:30 p.m. [Tuesday],” Sipp said, “and I think she had her flight booked by 11:35.”
  • Hitting coach Derek Shelton said he took issue with the way Victor Martinez was criticized for a lack of power in the first half last season. “We knew he was hurt, and he knew he was hurt, but he didn’t say anything,” Shelton said. So the rest of us didn’t know, which is why Martinez’s power drought came up in so much conversation.
  • The starters have gone 3-1 with a 2.91 ERA over the last seven games, lowering their season ERA from 10.13 to 6.25.
  • Last night’s “Fill the House” program raised $25,124 for the American Red Cross. 
  • Double-A Akron RHP Hector Rondon is now 3-0 after working five scoreless innings in a 2-0 victory over Harrisburg yesterday. Rondon allowed just four hits and a walk with two strikeouts. He is the only pitcher in the Eastern League with three wins and he has the 10th-lowest ERA (1.10) in the league.
  • 3B Lonnie Chisenhall has an eight-game hitting streak at Class A Kinston and hit two grand slams in two days.
  • Outfielder Matt LaPorta has hit in 10 of the 12 games in which he has recorded an at-bat at Triple-A Columbus this season. He turned in three hits in yesterday’s 14-4 win over Louisville. LaPorta is batting .362 with three doubles, a triple, three homers and nine RBIs in 13 games.
  • If you want to track the day-to-day minutia of LaPorta’s life, you can follow his Twitter right here. My favorite entry, by far is, “Eating Fruity Pebbles.”


4/23: Indians vs. Royals

Today’s 12:05 p.m. ET game will be broadcast on WTAM and STO.

cle.gifINDIANS (5-10):
CF Grady Sizemore, 3B Mark DeRosa, C Victor Martinez, DH Shin-Soo Choo, SS Jhonny Peralta, 1B Ryan Garko, LF Ben Francisco, RF Trevor Crowe, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. RHP Anthony Reyes (1-0, 5.73).



kc.gifROYALS (8-6):
CF Coco Crisp, 2B Alberto Callaspo, LF David DeJesus, 1B Billy Butler, 3B Mark Teahen, DH Mike Jacobs, C John Buck, SS Mike Aviles, RF Mitch Maier. RHP Gil Meche (1-0, 2.25).

Everybody form a line

It’s a good thing that Fill the House charity program wasn’t held last night at Progressive Field. That crowd couldn’t fill a shed.

The attendance was announced as 11,408, but that’s obviously tickets sold, not fannies in the seats. I’m not good at estimating such things, but if there were 2,000 people here, I’d be shocked.

What always amazes me in such situations is when people show up on such a night and sit in their assigned seat. You’d think they’d be directed to the seats directly behind the plate. At least then it would look a little more presentable on TV.

And if you were at last night’s game and didn’t come out with a home run or foul ball, you simply weren’t trying.

Well, it’s another cold night and, I’m assuming, another sparse crowd tonight. But it should nonetheless be a major improvement over last night’s situation, which, between the weather and the goings-on next door at the Q, made for a perfect storm for not-so-perfect attendance.

And those in the Tribe’s ticket sales department needn’t worry. It should warm up by June, and the marathon NBA playoffs should be over by August.


  • Victor Martinez is on fire. Over the last nine games, he’s 16-for-36 (.444) with eight runs scored. For the season, he’s tied for first in the AL in multi-hit games (eight), tied for third in hits (23), third in total bases (41), fourth in average (.397), tied for fourth in homers (five) and tied for seventh in OPS (1.170).
  • Eric Wedge on Martinez: “”He’s an emotional leader for us. The time he missed last year bothered him. You knew he’d come back with a belly full of fire, and it’s just starting to play out.”
  • LHP Scott Lewis will head to Goodyear this week to begin his return-to-throw program in earnest. As of now, Lewis is limited to playing catch.
  • Online balloting for the 2009 All-Star Game began today at MLB.com. In-park balloting at Progressive Field and all Indians Team Shops will begin April 28 and last through June 17.
  • javascript:void(popWin(‘http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/events/all_star/y2009/ballot_reg.html’ ,’asgBallot’,626,660,’scrollbars=yes’));
  • According to Elias Sports Bureau, LHP Aaron Laffey became the first pitcher in 39 years to induce a GIDP in five consecutive innings. The last was Tigers pitcher Leo Cain on May 6, 1970. Now that’s how you raise Cain, folks.
  • Say what you want about Laffey’s opponent in his two starts, but the Indians have waited all month for somebody to go seven innings and Laffey was the first. “That speaks for itself,” Wedge said.
  • Wedge admitted that in a “perfect world,” Tony Sipp would have had a little more grooming time in Columbus. But this is obviously an imperfect ‘pen.
  • Last night’s activity aside, Wedge still thinks Joe Smith is going to be effective against left-handers. “I’m confident he’s going to make it happen,” Wedge said. “We see some things we feel can help him with his approach. His stuff is real. He’s a tough kid, and he’s got some presence on the mound. The more he gets out there, the more you feel that.”
  • David Dellucci was 2-for-4 with three runs scored in today’s game and 2-for-4 last night at Columbus. He’s 5-for-12 in his rehab assignment, which began Monday, playing solely at DH so far. Dellucci’s rehab will probably go the 20-day distance. “It’s not just about the [calf] injury,” Wedge said. “It’s also about repetition. He needs to go out and perform and be able to do it on a daily basis.”
  • Luis Valbuena had a 13-game streak of reaching base safely. It was snapped today, when he went 0-for-4. Valbuena batted .333 (15-for-45) with a .467 OBP during the streak.
  • Lonnie Chisenhall, the Tribe’s first-round Draft selection last year, hit a grand slam for Class A Kinston in a 15-5 win over South Carolina.
  • Asdrubal Cabrera has a new tattoo on his right bicep. I don’t know what it is, but it’s huge.