April 2009

Lewis has elbow strain, Chulk promoted

As speculated, Vinnie Chulk has been promoted from Triple-A Columbus to bolster the bullpen.

What wasn’t expected was the news that Scott Lewis is headed to the 15-day disabled list with a left elbow strain. He had an MRI this morning, and the results are expected back this afternoon.

I just talked with Lewis, and he said he doesn’t think this strain is as severe as the tear that forced Tommy John surgery in his junior year at Ohio State. But we won’t know for sure until the MRI results are revealed. Lewis also said the elbow began bothering him in his last couple spring starts (both of which were disasters), but he kept pitching through it, because he thought it was just spring soreness that would fade quickly.

Lewis was scheduled to start Wednesday’s game in Kansas City. The Indians have not announced their plans for that start. Eric Wedge might reveal those plans after today’s game. Anybody in the Columbus rotation (David Huff, Aaron Laffey, Kirk Saarloos, Jeremy Sowers and Jack Cassel) is fair game.

UPDATE: Here’s what Lewis had to say:

“Hopefully it’s not the ligament, but it’s definitely the elbow. It had kind of been bothering me the last few times out. From what I felt, it’s not the same as when I tore my UCL [ulnar collateral ligament]. … It kept getting worse, and I think that’s why I haven’t been finishing pitches. I had been over-rotating my changeup and putting extra stress on it. It’s just not calming down with treatment. Hopefully it’s just tendinitis or something and the shutdown will help.”

Bullpen move coming?

Eric Wedge said last night that the Indians might have to make a roster move this morning, because the bullpen is thin, given last night’s events.

RHP Vinnie Chulk worked two scoreless innings for Triple-A Columbus on Thursday and is a prime candidate for a callup.

Zach Jackson and Masa Kobayashi have Minor League options, so they might be on shaky ground.

Waitin' on a sunny day

As soon as I know the status of today’s game (which has evolved to become “tonight’s” game), I’ll post it here. All I’m hearing for now is that the Indians expect to finish this thing tonight.

But that rain keeps falling. If this game gets called, everything that happened would be erased from the record and the Indians and Jays would likely have a day-night doubleheader on Saturday.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: The tarp is coming off, and the game is now scheduled to be resumed at 9:20 p.m. ET.

And the rain fell down on the cold hard ground

It’s Opening Day in Cleveland, so, naturally, I’m typing this during a rain delay.

Yeah, it’s cold today (45 degrees at first pitch). And yeah, the rain blew around all day before it began to pour in the fifth inning. But this is nothing, right?

“Our fans are used to it,” Eric Wedge said. “They’ve sat out here in worse conditions than this.”

We Clevelanders toss out the phrase “at least it’s not snowing” as if that’s any sort of consolation whatsoever.

But hey, at least it’s not snowing.

And the delay gives me the opportunity to throw some mid-game minutia your way.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Jamey Carroll’s left hand is in a splint as he recuperates from that broken fifth metacarpal shaft suffered in his last at-bat of the spring. “The longest Spring Training in history, and I get hurt in the last inning of the last game,” Carroll said. If it weren’t for bad luck, he’d have no luck at all.
  • Thus far, it’s been a straight swap of the catching duties for Victor Martinez and Kelly Shoppach. Martinez caught Scott Lewis today, and Shoppach will, of course, catch Cliff Lee on Saturday. No word on who is catching for Anthony Reyes on Sunday.
  • During the pregame roster and lineup introductions, the Indians’ training and strength and conditioning staff got to trot out to the third-base line for their turn in the limelight. Considering all the injuries the Indians endured last season, I’d say the honor was well-deserved.
  • The Tribe hit five homers Thursday. That feat only happened once last season – July 30 against Detroit, in a 13-inning game.
  • Entering today, the Indians were 58-50 all-time in home openers
  • Wedge liked what he saw from Travis Hafner in Thursday’s home run. “That was the swing, that was the speed and that was the path [the Indians want to see from Pronk],” Wedge said. But “that” was also an 84 mph fastball from Eddie Guardado.
  • I was much more impressed with Hafner getting around on Scott Richmond’s 93-mph fastball for a two-run double off the right-field wall in the first inning and a 92-mph fastball for a solo homer to the Indians’ visitors’ bullpen in the right-field corner in the third. Pronk’s starting to look a little more legit.
  • The Indians have not started a season 0-4 wince 1985, when they started 0-5.
  • Wedge was really relaxed with the media today. Somehow, he got on the subject of his first exposure to baseball. It came in 1977, when he was 11 years old and first played Little League. The coach asked Wedge (“a short, fat, squatty kid,” as he put it) if he wanted to try catching, and he was all for it. “I thought it would be cool to put all that stuff on,” Wedge said. On his bedroom wall, he hung posters of Carlton Fisk, Johnny Bench and Thurman Munson. No Farrah Fawcett, sadly.
  • The Tribe’s clubhouse has new carpet, and it was GM Mark Shapiro’s wife, Lissa, who picked out the color scheme (a deep blue in the clubhouse and a gray in the halls). Mark pretty much designed the alternate uniforms worn for the home opener, holidays and weekend home games. Move over, HGTV.

~AC

4/10: Indians vs. Blue Jays

Home sweet home. Today’s 4:05 p.m. ET home opener at Progressive Field will be broadcast 275x235_field_progressive.jpglive on the Indians Radio Network and WKYC Channel 3.

INDIANS (0-3): 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. LHP Scott Lewis.

BLUE JAYS (3-1): SS Marco Scutaro, 2B Aaron Hill, RF Alex Rios, CF Vernon Wells, DH Adam Lind, 3B Scott Rolen, 1B Kevin Millar, LF Jose Bautista, C Michael Barrett. RHP Scott Richmond.

"The name died before the man"

Really upsetting news about Nick Adenhart, the 22-year-old Angels pitcher killed in a hit-and-run car accident early this morning. The Indians just faced Adenhart about two weeks ago in Cactus League play. He was an up-and-comer with so much in store for him.

610x.jpg“Horrible,” manager Eric Wedge said. “That’s the only word I can even think of. The first people I think about are his parents, his family. It shouldn’t take a great deal to have perspective in this game, but when something like that happens, it brings you back down to earth.”

Amen to that.

In the grand scheme of things, much of what happens between the lines in this game — and any game — is all just, well…

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Trevor Crowe gets his first Major League start today. “I figured I’d get in there when a guy needed a break at some point,” Crowe said. “But I didn’t think it would be in the first series.” Crowe’s parents, David and Terryl, made the trip to Texas from Oregon. Crowe had no intention of informing them that he was in the lineup. “They’ll find out when they get here,” he said with a smile.
  • As expected, Kelly Shoppach is catching Carl Pavano today. They were also matched up in Spring Training. But Wedge said that’s not a concrete pairing, the way Shoppach-Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez-Fausto Carmona are.
  • Carmona was really erratic on the mound last night. He also made a couple mental miscues, such as not running over to cover first base on Elvis Andrus’ infield single to Ryan Garko in the second inning and not looking Josh Hamilton back to third when fielding a bouncer to the mound in the fifth.
  • Adam Miller will throw a 35-pitch bullpen session back at the Goodyear complex on Friday. If all goes well, Miller, working his way back to game readiness despite decreased range of motion and strength in his right middle finger, will throw live batting practice sessions on Monday and Friday of next week.
  • The Indians have not started a season 0-3 since 1996. They went on to win 99 games that season.
  • The last time the Tribe was swept by the Rangers in a three-game series was Aug. 16-18, 2008, here in Arlington.
  • Indians hitters were 2-for-20 with runners in scoring position in the first two games of this series.
  • Two games in, and Indians hitters have already been plunked by two pitches. So they’re on track to break the franchise and MLB record of 103 HBPs set last year.
  • Hector Rondon is one of the more intriguing arms in the Minor League system right now, and he showed it Wednesday night, in Double-A Akron’s season-0pening 9-5 win over Bowie. Rondon went 5 2/3 innings, allowing a run on five hits with a walk and six strikeouts.
  • Carlos Santana, celebrating his 23rd birthday, chipped in with a 2-for-4 night in which he homered and drove in four runs.
  • Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News passes along this tidbit: The Indians took out a full-page ad in the Buffalo Bisons’ game program, thanking the organization and its fans for their support over the last 14 years. Pretty classy move.

~AC

4/9: Indians at Rangers

Today’s 2:05 p.m. ET game at Rangers Ballpark will be broadcast live on the Indians Radio Network and STO.

INDIANS (0-2): CF Grady Sizemore, 3B Mark DeRosa, 1B Victor Martinez, DH Travis Hafner, SS Jhonny Peralta, LF Ben Francisco, C Kelly Shoppach, RF Trevor Crowe, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. RHP Carl Pavano.

RANGERS (2-0): 2B Ian Kinsler, 3B Michael Young, CF Josh Hamilton, DH Andruw Jones, RF Nelson Cruz, LF Marlon Byrd, 1B Chris Davis, C Taylor Teagarden, SS Omar Vizquel. RHP Brandon McCarthy.

I ain't here on business, baby, I'm only here for fun

Off days on the road are pretty much a waste. Personally, I’d rather spend a day off at home with friends and family than in some Marriott Courtyard watching HBO.

So when the 2009 schedule came out, and I saw the Indians had an off day scheduled in Arlington, no less, you can imagine my chagrin.

040709b.jpgAnd then the Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band tour schedule came out, and all was once again right with the world. The Boss rocked Tulsa, Okla., last night, and my brother Bill and I were there — on the floor, about 10 yards from Bruce’s microphone.

By now, any reader of this blog is already familiar my Springsteen obsession. So I’ll spare you the detailed account of how he scorched the earth with his guitar solo on “Seeds” or my enthusiasm over his ability to captivate and inspire an arena-filling crowd not just with his musicianship but also through his boundless energy and sheer depth of feeling. I won’t mention that the band — even with Clarence Clemons, the bearer of two bad hips and two bum knees, having to be elevated to the stage, quite sadly, by a mechanical lift — has never sounded tighter and never handled Springsteen’s famous setlist audibles more ably.

But I will say that I’m currently nursing what I believe to be a broken toe as a result of the stage crush that ensued when Bruce came toward us near the end of “Rosalita.”

And to quote a less-inspiring rocker, it hurts so good.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • The Indians will induct former players Sandy Alomar Jr. and Wes Ferrell into their team Hall of Fame in August. Former owners Bill Veeck and Dick Jacobs will also be inducted as the inaugural class of the Distinguished Hall of Fame for non-uniformed men and women who significantly contributed to the fortunes of the franchise. Veeck and Ferrell will be inducted posthumously.
  • Cliff Lee said he intended no disrespect toward Victor Martinez on Monday when he referenced Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s two-run single to the right side and said, “If Vic lays out and is able to catch that ball, those runs don’t score.” I was there when Lee said it, and it was clear he was making a point (not much of a point, but a point nonetheless) that mere inches separated that play from being an out. He wasn’t throwing Martinez under the bus, but some people (namely, the talking heads on “Baseball Tonight”) read it that way.
  • Lee is on line to start the April 16 opener of the new Yankee Stadium, opposite former mate CC Sabathia. Pretty cool.
  • Speaking of former Indians, the Rangers are giving Omar Vizquel the start at short tomorrow.
  • Adam Miller’s throwing program is ongoing at the Player Development Complex in Goodyear. He’s still not to the point of facing live hitters, according to Eric Wedge.
  • Jamey Carroll will not have surgery to repair that broken bone in his left hand. It will heal itself naturally. Carroll is still expected to miss four to six weeks.
  • Wedge offered another reason why he wants Travis Hafner in the cleanup spot: “The last thing we need is to put him somewhere in the lineup where he’s not accustomed to being,” Wedge said, “because then you have him trying too hard to get back to where he used to be.”
  • Anthony Reyes, scheduled to make his first start of the season Sunday against the Blue Jays, worked 4 2/3 innings not against but for Mount Olive College in an exhibition on Tuesday night. He faced the Class A Kinston hitters and limited them to a run on two hits with a walk and eight strikeouts. He threw 80 pitches.
  • Tonight’s game marks the 400th all-time meeting between the Indians and Rangers.
  • Former Tribe pitcher Mike Bacsik, who now works for an sports talk radio station, was in the Indians’ clubhouse before tonight’s game. Bacsik will forever be remembered for serving up Barry Bonds’ 756th career home run.
  • Bullpen catchers Dave Wallace and Dan Williams attempted to count the number of balls used in Spring Training this year. They weren’t sure of the exact number, but it was in excess of 12,000.

~AC

4/8: Indians at Rangers

Tonight’s 8:05 p.m. ET game at Rangers Ballpark will be broadcast live on the Indians Radio Network and STO.

INDIANS (0-1): 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.

RANGERS (1-0): 2B Ian Kinsler, 3B Michael Young, CF Josh Hamilton, DH Hank Blalock, RF Nelson Cruz, LF David Murphy, 1B Chris Davis, C Jarrod Saltalamacchia, SS Elvis Andrus. RHP Vicente Padilla.

We had the greatest expectations

You know, it’s not every day you can walk to the press box bathroom and pass a former president along the way.

Then again, not every day is Opening Day. It’s a special day, whether or not President George W. Bush is in attendance.

tLBRB4cY.jpg“I think it spurs emotions that a lot of times most people don’t feel,” Eric Wedge said. “I think that’s what people like about Opening Day. I let that in. I think it’s important to feel that. I’ll stiff arm a lot of that stuff, but… if you love the game of baseball and you appreciate and respect the fans who pay their money and the players that work so hard to be the best in the world, I think that’s something we all owe to ourselves.”

It’s a day of hope. A day of opportunity. A day when all is right with the world and the best is yet to come.

Well, until Cliff Lee coughs up seven runs in five innings, and the good people of Cleveland drive home from work in an April 6 snow shower. Then it’s back to square one.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • I’m already getting the messages of panic from Tribe fans regarding Cliff Lee and his Opening Day dud against the Rangers. One former Indians.com scribe, who shall remain nameless, is insistent that the Indians should have traded Lee this offseason, while his value was at its peak. This, of course, is how Cleveland sports fans react to such things. It’s their nature, and I suppose it’s understandable.
  • On my end, I’m not sure what to make of Lee’s struggles this spring and in this start. His velocity is intact, and his command doesn’t appear to be too terribly out of whack. It’s worth keeping in mind that he’s never really pitched well in this ballpark (3-3, 9.19 ERA in six career starts here). Today’s loss boiled down to a poorly pitched second inning and one particularly bad pitch to Blalock in the fifth. The looming question is whether those rough patches are going to creep up once or twice in each of his outings (they were rare, at best, in ’08). If they do, it’s going to be a long year.
  • For the record, Lee said the Blalock one-hopper that dotted his forearm in the second played no part in everything that transpired afterward.
  • You can tell when Wedge is upset with the offensive effort and, conversely, when he’s genuinely impressed with what he saw from the opposing pitcher. Today, he was definitely impressed with Millwood. Still, the Indians didn’t notch so much as an extra-base hit against Millwood or the Texas bullpen.
  • I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Texas crowd on Opening Day. Every other time I’ve been here, the place is half-empty… if that. But arriving this morning around 9:30 a.m., the parking lots were all packed with tailgaters braving the 45-degree weather (which is downright arctic in these parts).
  • The players were all excited to meet the former president. He went around the locker room about an hour before first pitch, signed a ball and took a picture with pretty much every player and coach.
  • No one was more excited than Shoppach, an unabashed Bush fan. Bush apparently told Shoppach he remembers him from his Baylor days (Bush’s Crawford, Texas, ranch is near Baylor’s campus in Waco). “That got me pumped up,” Shoppach said. Either Shoppach was a truly memorable college player, or Bush’s secret service guys do their homework ahead of time.
  • For the record, I nodded at Bush as I passed him in the hallway and said hello. He was en route to the Rangers’ broadcast booth and didn’t nod back. Didn’t he realize I come from a key swing state?

~AC

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