April 2009

Miller hits 'bump in the road'

Adam Miller’s throwing program hit a snag this week, as the right-handed prospect experienced discomfort in his right middle finger.

Miller, trying to work his way back to game action despite the inability to bend the tip of that finger, was supposed to throw his first live batting practice session at the Goodyear complex on Monday, but he felt the discomfort after warming up in the bullpen. He was shut down for the rest of the week and was scheduled to play catch today.

“We’re playing it as cautiously as possible,” head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff said. “This is certainly a bump in the road for him. We’ll know more based on how he tolerates his throwing program over the next three to five days.”

Surgery is still very much a possibility for Miller. By the end of next week, the Indians will decide if he needs to visit with team hand specialist Dr. Tom Graham again.

“[Surgery] is always going to be an option if he fails conservative management,” Soloff said.

4/18: Indians at Yankees

Today’s 3:40 p.m. ET game will be broadcast on FOX, WMMS 100.7 FM and the Indians Radio Network.

CF Grady Sizemore, 3B Mark DeRosa, C Victor Martinez, DH Travis Hafner, SS Jhonny Peralta, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 1B Ryan Garko, LF Ben Francisco, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. RHP Fausto Carmona (0-2, 9.00).



SS Derek Jeter, DH Johnny Damon, 1B Mark Teixeira, RF Nick Swisher, C Jorge Posada, 2B Robinson Cano, LF Melky Cabrera, CF Brett Gardner, 3B Ramiro Pena. RHP Chien-Ming Wang (0-2, 28.93).

4/17: Indians at Yankees

Today’s 1:05 p.m. ET game at Yankee Stadium will be broadcast on WTAM 1100 and STO.


CF Grady Sizemore, 3B Mark DeRosa, C Victor Martinez, DH Travis Hafner, 1B Ryan Garko, RF Shin-Soo Choo, LF Ben Francisco, 2B Tony Graffanino, SS Asdrubal Cabrera. RHP Anthony Reyes (1-0, 6.00).



SS Derek Jeter, LF Johnny Damon, 1B Mark Teixeira, DH Nick Swisher, C Jorge Posada, 2B Robinson Cano, RF Melky Cabrera, 3B Cody Ransom, CF Brett Gardner. RHP Joba Chamberlain (0-0, 1.50).

I want to be a part of it

It’s everything you’d expect out of a $1.5 billion ballpark.

That’s the simplest, most succinct review I can offer for the new Yankee Stadium, which is an absolute beauty in the Bronx.

capt_592d624e6d934f0ea0ce6bc886952fe2_indians_yankees_baseball_nyy106.jpgWhat strikes me most about the ballpark is that at times you have to remind yourself you are actually across River Street and in a new facility. Because in many ways, this feels like a renovated version of the House that Ruth Built (which itself was a renovated version of, well, itself). The architects did a tremendous job maintaining that Yankee Stadium mystique while bringing this place into the 21st Century (the center-field video board makes you feel like you’re at a high-definition drive-in movie).

Again, though, what else do you expect for 1.5 billion bucks?

My experience here, thus far, has been relegated to the visiting clubhouse (which is nicer than most home clubhouses), the press box (they really took care of us here) and a small portion of the concourse (which, strangely and wonderfully, contains a fresh fruit stand). So if you want a review of the Hard Rock Café, Monument Park, the bleacher seats above the batter’s eye and the view from the upper upper deck (which, by my estimation, is roughly 1.5 miles above sea level), you’ll have to get it elsewhere. All I can tell you is that, from my vantage point, this place is everything you’d expect a $1.5 billion ballpark to be.


  • The lineup introductions saw every member of the Indians, right down to the athletic training staff, getting a round of “Bronx cheers.” But no one got harassed more than Carl Pavano. The crowd was merciless after four years and $40 million worth of injuries. Pavano came out of the dugout smiling, and his teammates were loving it.
  • When asked if it would be weird to see CC Sabathia in another uniform, Eric Wedge replied, “I hope it’s a little more weird for him than it is for us.”
  • It was a little weird for Wedge drawing up the lineup for this game, because, obviously, Sabathia doesn’t have a history against nearly every member of the roster. Only Mark DeRosa (2-for-9) and Tony Graffanino (4-for-14) have faced him previously. So that helps to explain why Graffanino was in there today, spelling Asdrubal Cabrera.
  • I’m a little surprised to see Travis Hafner not playing and Shin-Soo Choo at DH today. The Indians still want to protect Choo against some tough lefties, and they don’t come much tougher than Sabathia. But they also have to give Pronk a couple days off per week.
  • It’s looking like Aaron Laffey will start Tuesday’s home game against the Royals. Combined with Monday’s off day, that will give the other four starters an extra day of rest before their next start.
  • Don’t expect the Indians to continue to carry 13 pitchers after the off day. It might be a short stay in Columbus for Josh Barfield, unless the Indians make some other, unexpected callup (as one commenter so accurately pointed out, Barfield can’t be called back up until he’s been in the Minors for 10 days).
  • Jamey Carroll made this trip because he wanted to be here for the Yankee Stadium opening. Nothing new to report about that broken bone in his left hand, though he did experience a little taste of Murphy’s Law when he accidentally hit that hand on the knob of the bathroom door in his hotel room. He’s fine, though.
  • Paul Olden, who was Herb Score’s WWWE partner on Tribe broadcasts in 1988 and ’89, is the public-address announcer here.
  • In addition to Kelly Clarkson singing today’s National Anthem, John Fogerty rocked us with “Centerfield” from, well, center field. It was a tad awkward, though, as he was singing over a studio track.
  • Former Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams also played a little acoustic number that was kind of a mood-killer for me.
  • Before Derek Jeter’s at-bat in the bottom of the first, a bat was placed on home plate. It was the bat Babe Ruth used to hit the first home run in the first game at the original Yankee Stadium on April 18, 1923. Maybe Jeter should have used that bat, because, using his own bat, he proceeded to fly out to center.


4/16: Indians at Yankees

stadium_350_041509.jpgToday’s 1:05 p.m. ET puts the Indians at the center of the baseball universe for the opening of the $1.5 billion Yankee Stadium, with a pair of former Cy Young winners squaring off. The game will be broadcast on WTAM 1100 and WKYC Channel 3.

INDIANS: CF Grady Sizemore, 3B Mark DeRosa, 1B Victor Martinez, SS Jhonny Peralta, DH Shin-Soo Choo, RF Ben Francisco, C Kelly Shoppach, 2B Tony Graffanino, LF Trevor Crowe. LHP Cliff Lee.

YANKEES: SS Derek Jeter, LF Johnny Damon, 1B Mark Teixeira, RF Nick Swisher, C Jorge Posada, 2B Robinson Cano, DH Hideki Matsui, 3B Cody Ransom, CF Brett Gardner. LHP CC Sabathia.

No word on Wednesday; blog on break

Eric Wedge didn’t announce who will start Wednesday’s game. I had speculated about Kirk Saarloos, but he pitched today for the Clippers. Today’s start was originally slated to go to Jeremy Sowers, so he might be a safe pick, given that the Indians were pleased with the adjustments he made this spring. Aaron Laffey’s probably not a candidate, having pitched Saturday.

Stay glued to Indians.com for the updates on this and all things Indians. I’m not making the trip to Kansas City, so the blog is getting a break for a few days.

I’ll catch up with you from the Big Apple later this week.

Come on up for the rising

As a kid, I was a sucker for Santa Claus, but I never really fell for the Easter Bunny.

Santa was a holiday character I could really get my hands around. Sure, it’s a bit of a stretch to think he slid down the chimney of every house in the world in one night, but when you’re young, you barely even realize there are any houses outside your own city. And I didn’t seem to be suspicious of the fact that my house didn’t have a fireplace. I figured Santa came in through the side door somehow.

easter%20bunny.jpgBut a bunny? No. I may have been a dope then and an even bigger dope now, but even I knew bunnies — what with their lack of opposable thumbs and, well, intellect — couldn’t figure out how to get into people’s houses in the middle of the night. And even if they could, how would they transport all those baskets? These things were never explained.

And the guy dressed up as a bunny at the mall? Who could possibly fall for that? Santa, sure. He’s a guy with a beard. But unless you’re severely drugged, I can’t see any scenario in which you’d look at a six-foot bunny and think it’s anything other than a human being in costume. You can’t tell a bunny what you want in your basket. He has huge ears, sure, but nothing’s really going to register.

So I’ve always appreciated the true meaning of the Easter season — the one that goes beyond Cadbury Eggs and Malley’s chocolates. And for those of you celebrating the holiday today, I wish you all the best this season has to offer.


  • As of this pregame writing, the Indians haven’t announced their Wednesday starter to replace Scott Lewis. I’d expect that news to come postgame today, so I’ll be sure to report it here. Kirk Saarloos was supposed to start for Columbus yesterday but was replaced by reliever Tomo Ohka, so that’s certainly suspicious.
  • Lewis will be shut down for five to seven days with a mild left forearm strain. He’ll then begin a return-to-throw program. The Indians hope to have him back in two to four weeks.
  • Other injury updates will be posted shortly in a story on Indians.com.
  • Speaking of injuries, outfielder Matt LaPorta was removed from the Clippers’ second game of a doubleheader in Louisville last night with tightness in his right midsection. The Indians are calling it merely a precautionary move due to the cold weather. LaPorta is 5-for-8 with two doubles, a triple and a homer here in the early going. That’s a ridiculous 2.167 OPS… in three games.
  • I was curious to see who would catch Anthony Reyes today, and it’s Victor Martinez, who will also catch Fausto Carmona tomorrow. So if you’re scoring at home, that’s three starts each for Martinez and Kelly Shoppach behind the plate in the season’s first six games.
  • The Shoppach-Cliff Lee and Martinez-Carmona pairings are the only locks for now. “I think they’ll play [the rest] by ear all year,” Shoppach said.
  • Tribe batters are averaging 9.2 strikeouts per game. Yikes. The pitching woes understandably get all the hype, but I’m still worried about an offense striking out at that rate and going 5-for-39 with runners in scoring position.
  • Today’s game is on WMMS 100.7 FM because of the Cavaliers’ conflict on WTAM 1100, and that will be the cast for tomorrow night’s game in Kansas City, as well.
  • I didn’t expect to see Trevor Crowe get two starts in the first week of the season, but he was back in there today, giving Ben Francisco a break.
  • Plenty of fodder to demonstrate a simple fact: Cliff Lee, thus far, isn’t nearly as effective this year as he was last year. In ’08, he did not lose his second decision until July 6, his 17th start. He did not allow his 11th run until May 8, in his eighth start. According to Elias, he has become only the second reigning Cy Young winner in the last 10 seasons to lose his first two starts of the season (Roy Halladay was the other, in ’04).


4/12: Indians vs. Blue Jays

Today’s 1:05 p.m. ET game at Progressive Field will air live on WMMS 100.7 FM, the Indians Radio Network and STO.

cle.gifINDIANS: CF Grady Sizemore, 3B Mark DeRosa, C Victor Martinez, DH Travis Hafner, SS Jhonny Peralta, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 1B Ryan Garko, LF Trevor Crowe, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. RHP Anthony Reyes (first start).



tor.gifBLUE JAYS:
SS Marco Scutaro, 2B Aaron Hill, RF Alex Rios, CF Vernon Wells, DH Adam Lind, 3B Scott Rolen, 1B Lyle Overbay, C Rod Barajas, LF Travis Snider. LHP David Purcey (0-0, 2.57).

"You must keep hope alive, bald people!"

Uh, 157-5, anyone?


All right, that's an unattainable mark, but the Indians better get a win Sunday. If they don't, they'll be the first Cleveland team to start a season 0-6 since the 1914 Cleveland Naps, who, under skipper Joe Birmingham, started out 0-8 and went on to finish 51-102 -- in dead last in the American League and 48 1/2 back of the first-place Philadelphia Athletics.


That's a bad, bad precedent.




  • Obviously a disappointing outing for Cliff Lee today. He looked like his old self -- not the guy who won 22 games last year but the guy who struggled to be efficient for his first five years in the big leagues. Lee needed 102 pitches to get through five innings in which he surrendered four runs on seven hits with four walks and five strikeouts. He let the leadoff man aboard in each of the first four innings.
  • Lee insisted his fastball location was fine today. And it's times like these when I wonder why we even bother interviewing guys after games.
  • No word on who will start Wednesday's game. The Indians are still working through that decision, according to Eric Wedge. The good news is that Lewis' MRI did not show any structural damage, so the Indians think he can recuperate with rest.
  • Here's an ugly note from Elias Sports Bureau. The Indians became just the fourth team since 1900 to allow 42 or more runs in their first four games of the season. The others were Milwaukee in 1901 (45), the St. Louis Cardinals in 1954 (47) and Baltimore in 1978 (44).
  • How about that starting pitching? Tribe starters are now 0-4 with a 13.28 ERA, giving up 30 earned runs in just 20 1/3 innings of work.
  • The guy that worries me most in the bullpen is Rafael Perez, who has allowed six earned runs in 3 1/3 innings. Perez also struggled last April, so you have to wonder if this is going to be a trend. He's supposed to be the shutdown setup option in front of Kerry Wood -- you know, assuming the Indians get around to having a game to close out.
  • This was just a standard off day today for Travis Hafner, who is limited to about five games a week here in the early going. Pronk has actually hit lefties (.288 average, .923 OPS) better than righties (.261, .890) over the last three years, so it wasn't terribly surprising that Wedge would sit him against Roy Halladay and, I'm assuming, play him Sunday against left-hander David Purcey. The splits aren't that much of an issue.
  • As bad as the pitching has been, the Indians are 5-for-39 with runners in scoring position, and that's a huge concern. They were 1-for-9 today, and that, to me, was just as much the storyline as anything we saw from Lee.
  • Speaking of concerns, No. 2 hitter Mark DeRosa was driving the struggle bus with just one hit, two walks and nine strikeouts in 23 plate appearances before that three-run double in the ninth.
  • Great to see "Chulkamania" running wild at Progressive Field. Vinnie Chulk pitched well this spring and fits in well in this clubhouse. He'd have to clear waivers to be sent back down, so I don't view this as a short-term promotion.
  • Adam Miller threw a 35-pitch bullpen session Friday at the Goodyear complex and continues to progress without setbacks. Head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff will address Miller when he gives an injury roundup Sunday, but Soloff had said earlier this week that the next step for Miller (pitching with decreased range of motion in his right middle finger) would be to face live hitters next week.
  • Regarding yesterday's delay, the umpires decide when to halt and when to resume a game in inclement weather. Last night, I'm sure they had both teams in their ear about the need to get the game in, because the Blue Jays don't come back again this season. A day-night Saturday doubleheader wasn't an ideal scenario (that would have given the Indians 10 games in nine days, and neither was the loss of a mutual off day. "I'm sure everybody in here would prefer playing all night over losing an off day in the middle of August or something," Kelly Shoppach said. "You need those off days during the season. It's a long year."
  • Shoppach joked about the Cleveland weather. "I think it's a rule that we just have bad weather up here," he said. "It seems like every time we land, bad weather comes. Like, wheels on the runway? Boom. Rainy."


4/11: Indians vs. Blue Jays

Today’s 1:05 p.m. ET game, which will hopefully be completed in less than seven hours, will air on the Indians Radio Network and STO.

INDIANS: CF Grady Sizemore, 3B Mark DeRosa, 1B Victor Martinez, RF Shin-Soo Choo, SS Jhonny Peralta, DH Ryan Garko, C Kelly Shoppach, LF Ben Francisco, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. LHP Cliff Lee (0-1, 12.60 ERA).

BLUE JAYS: SS Marco Scutaro, 2B Aaron Hill, RF Alex Rios, CF Vernon Wells, DH Adam Lind, 3B Scott Rolen, 1B Kevin Millar, C Rod Barajas, LF Jose Bautista. RHP Roy Halladay (1-0, 6.43).