In what has become a daily occurrence, the Indians made a roster move Thursday. And for the second straight day, the move affected the pitching staff.
This time, it was left-hander Zach Jackson pushing his way through the revolving door on his way back to Triple-A Columbus, with right-hander Tomo Ohka coming through on the other side.
Ohka, who was 3-3 with a 3.42 ERA in nine starts at Columbus, figures to provide insurance in a Tribe bullpen depleted by the lengthy outings turned in by Jeremy Sowers, Greg Aquino and Luis Vizcaino this week.
The Indians signed Ohka to a Minor League deal with an invite to Spring Training camp over the winter. Triple-A batters have hit .272 off him, and he’s issued 1.5 walks per nine innings. He last appeared in the Majors with the Blue Jays in 2007 and has made 184 big-league appearances for the Red Sox, Expos, Nationals, Brewers and Blue Jays, including 172 starts, since 1999.
Jackson rejoined the Tribe to make Wednesday’s spot start. He gave up seven runs, six of which were earned, over four innings for a no-decision in the Tribe’s eventual 12-7 win. He’ll slot back into the Columbus rotation.
Still no clue if they’ll get this one in tonight. It has begun to rain again, and a flash of lightning just sparked the evening sky.
So with this game already in delay mode (even if it starts, it won’t be until after 8 p.m. ET), we might as well dive into the Tribe tidbits, right? Right.
UPDATE: The Indians announced an 8:15 p.m. start time, but the tarp was just pulled back on the field at 8 p.m. So we’re back to wait-and-see mode.
UPDATE No. 2: 9 p.m. start time.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…
- Travis Hafner will play Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Columbus and will probably be back in the Indians’ lineup on Monday.
- Joe Smith threw his live batting practice session here today and will go out on rehab later this week. Not sure of the exact day, but he might go out Friday, as well.
- Rafael Perez should be back soon. He tossed another two scoreless innings for Columbus yesterday, giving up three hits and striking out a pair. “He’s throwing the ball well,” Eric Wedge said. “He’s starting to get some consistency. He’ll be up here sooner rather than later.”
- Grady Sizemore remains in DH mode as he waits for his sore left elbow to calm down. To be clear, there is no structural damage or bone chips or anything of that nature in the elbow. This is inflammation of the joint, and it’s flared up over the last couple weeks. “We’ll try to get him through the weekend and see how it plays out,” Wedge said. And when Hafner returns and that DH spot is no longer open, it should be time for the Indians to decide what to do with Sizemore. They might even make that decision beforehand.
- Don’t even try to guess what’s going on with the rotation. The Indians are just riding it out and taking things day by day. Jeremy Sowers will be available out of the bullpen after a few days of rest, but he could be slid back into the rotation the next time through. A lot depends on how Zach Jackson and David Huff pitch over the next two days. Wedge still views Sowers as a starter, not a reliever. Sowers doesn’t warm up quickly and doesn’t have the groundball tendencies of an Aaron Laffey.
- Jackson is the Tribe’s ninth starting pitcher this season. They’ve played 47 games.
- Someone asked about Ben Francisco’s numbers against Andy Sonnanstine, and, well, let’s just say putting Francisco in tonight’s lineup is about the easiest decision Wedge will make this year. After his two-homer day against Sonnanstine earlier this month, Francisco is now 6-for-7 with a double, four home runs, a walk and eight RBIs against him.
- If, for some reason, you needed statistical data to illustrate that Carl Pavano didn’t pitch very much with the Yankees, here you go. Pavano has five wins this month. He recorded the same number of wins from May 23, 2005, to April 30, 2009 — a span of 1,438 days. Pavano is the only pitcher in baseball with five wins this month. He is sixth in the AL in strikeout to walk ratio (3.54) and eight with 2.1 walks allowed per nine innings.
- Looking ahead to Saturday, and CC Sabathia’s return to Cleveland, I asked pitching coach Carl Willis what type of reception he thinks CC will receive. “I certainly hope he gets a nice reception [from the crowd] and then a rowdy reception from us on the field,” Willis said.
- Double-A Akron RHP Jeanmar Gomez followed up his perfect game with a dud against Reading last night. He gave up five runs (four earned) on eight hits over six innings, raising his season ERA from 0.31 to 1.29.
- ESPN Radio’s “Mike and Mike in the Morning” program will be broadcast live from Progressive Field’s Batter’s Eye bar from 6-10 a.m. ET tomorrow. Hosts Mike Greenberg and St. Joe’s alum Mike Golic will be here and will throw out a ceremonial first pitch before tonight’s game.
Indians owner Larry Dolan suffered a mild heart attack here Wednesday morning, the club announced.
“He’s resting comfortable, and he’s in good spirits,” said Bob DiBiasio, the Tribe’s vice president of public relations. “He’s hoping to get back to Progressive Field soon.”
The Indians are not releasing any more detailed information about the 78-year-old Dolan’s condition.
A Cleveland native, Dolan bought the Indians from Dick Jacobs in February 2000.
As of this writing, the sky is clear at Progressive Field. Two hours ago, it was pretty nasty. Two hours from now, it could be pretty nasty, for all I know. The radar didn’t look very promising, as an orange blob was hovering over Sandusky (or maybe there’s always an orange blob over Sandusky).
Anyway, should tonight’s 7:05 p.m. ET game take place, it will be broadcast on WTAM and STO.
INDIANS (19-28): SS Asdrubal Cabrera, DH Grady Sizemore, C Victor Martinez, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Jhonny Peralta, LF Mark DeRosa, 1B Ryan Garko, CF Ben Francisco, 2B Jamey Carroll. LHP Zach Jackson (0-0, 5.79).
RAYS (23-25): CF B.J. Upton, LF Carl Crawford, 3B Evan Longoria, 1B Carlos Pena, 2B Willy Aybar, SS Ben Zobrist, DH Joe Dillon, RF Gabe Kapler, C Michel Hernandez. RHP Andy Sonnanstine (3-4, 6.60).
As expected, it’s LHP Zach Jackson getting the start tomorrow night against the Rays.
Rich Rundles was optioned back to Columbus after tonight’s game.
The minutia flows fast and furious tonight, so let’s get to it.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…
- The Indians won’t announce who is starting tomorrow night’s game until after tonight’s game, but a roster move will be made, as David Huff is getting Thursday’s start. My guess is that tomorrow’s start goes to Zach Jackson, as tonight would normally be his turn in the Columbus rotation but the Clippers are instead going with a bullpen day (John Meloan got the start). Jackson is 3-2 with a 3.09 ERA.
- Eric Wedge said he expects Travis Hafner to be back after playing three straight days for Columbus later this week. Hafner took batting practice here today and will do so again tomorrow before returning to Columbus on Thursday and playing Thursday, Friday and Saturday. At that point, it might be time to promote Pronk, whose rehab assignment expires a week from Wednesday.
- When Hafner comes back, it might be time for the Indians to make a decision on Grady Sizemore, whose left elbow condition, as mentioned in a previous post, is looking more and more like a DL situation. Here’s the story on Grady.
- Matt LaPorta will get more consistent time at first base when he return to Columbus. Wedge wants LaPorta to be an option there the next time he gets called up.
- Trevor Crowe is here because the Indians are going to need options at center field, with Sizemore hurting.
- LaPorta didn’t make much of an impact up here this month, but he also got the Ryan Garko treatment in that he started sporadically. All in all, I’d say LaPorta didn’t give away too many at-bats, and I’d certainly like to see him in a more extended look. But Wedge, managing with a definite sense of urgency, didn’t opt to give him one at this juncture.
- All right, about last night… According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Indians’ 10-run comeback marked the third time in the last 25 years that the Indians won a game after trailing by at least 10 runs. They also rallied from 10 down to beat the Twins in 1984 and came back from a 12-run disadvantage to beat the Mariners on Aug. 5, 2001. Over that span, all other Major League teams have combined for just five comeback victories of that type, so what the Indians have accomplished is pretty remarkable. “It’s a great example of why you always play it out to the final out,” Wedge said. “You just never know. Those fans who stuck around saw a tremendous comeback under extreme circumstances.”
- The Indians have won 14 straight home games against the Rays. According to Elias, that’s the longest home winning streak for the Indians against one opponent since they won 15 straight against Detroit from 1994 to 1997. The team record is 27 straight against St. Louis from 1952-54.
- If you’re attending Sunday’s game against the Yankees, come a little earlier than usual. The game time has been moved up from 1:05 p.m. ET to 12:40 p.m. because it will be broadcast on TBS.
- RHP Jeanmar Gomez is the Eastern League Pitcher of the Week after his perfect game at Trenton on Thursday. Gomez entered his start against Reading tonight with a 4-0 record and a 0.31 ERA.
- I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that yesterday was the 28th anniversary of the Rangers’ Bill Stein setting an American League record for pinch hits, with seven. Why is this important? Because Bill Stein is the father of Jason Stein, the Indians’ iTrac vision trainer who is better known in these parts as the “Master of Self-Promotion.” Anyway, if you think about it, seven consecutive pinch hits is pretty special stuff.
And no, it’s not Mark DeRosa.
It’s Wilson Valdez, the 31-year-old non-roster invitee to Spring Training camp this year who was the everyday shortstop at Triple-A Columbus. Valdez was sent to the Mets, who have multiple injuries in their infield, for a player to be named or cash. Valdez has been added to the Mets’ 40-man roster and is reportedly en route to Citi Field.
Tonight’s 7:05 p.m. ET game at Progressive Field will air on WMMS 100.7 FM (because of some basketball game) and STO. Victor Martinez gets a rare day off. Grady Sizemore remains in the DH spot, as the Indians continue to take precautions with his sore elbow. A DL trip is possible. More on that later.
INDIANS (18-28): SS Asdrubal Cabrera, DH Grady Sizemore, 3B Jhonny Peralta, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 1B Ryan Garko, LF Mark DeRosa, CF Ben Francisco, 2B Luis Valbuena, C Kelly Shoppach. RHP Carl Pavano (4-4, 6.10).
RAYS (23-24): CF B.J. Upton, LF Carl Crawford, 3B Evan Longoria, 1B Carlos Pena, 2B Willy Aybar, RF Ben Zobrist, DH Gabe Gross, C Dioner Navarro, SS Reid Brignac. RHP Matt Garza (4-2, 3.41).
Matt LaPorta’s first stint in the Major Leagues is over. LaPorta was sent down today, with outfielder Trevor Crowe getting the call from Triple-A Columbus for his second exposure to the bigs.
LaPorta’s hot start at Triple-A did not carry over into the Majors. He hit .190 (8-for-42) with a double, a homer and four RBIs. He struck out 11 times and walked four times.
Crowe, who can play all three positions in the outfield and serve as a late-inning pinch-runner, batted .182 (6-for-33) with a double and four RBIs after opening the season with the Tribe. He was optioned to Columbus on May 2 and hit .230 (17-for-74) with two doubles, a homer and six RBIs in 21 games, and he hit .333 (9-for-27) with a double, homer and two RBIs over his last six games.
UPDATE: Regarding the comment below, for those paranoid that the Crowe move is indicative that Sizemore’s elbow condition is potentially a DL situation, I would say your fears are very much justified. Sizemore just told me his elbow hasn’t gotten any better and has been bothering him all season. More on this on the Indians.com site in a little bit.
Anthony Reyes’ chronic right elbow problem appears bound for surgical adjustment that would end his season.
Reyes’ elbow was examined Monday by team physician Dr. Mark Schickendantz, who has diagnosed Reyes with ulnar neuritis and recommended that Reyes receive an ulnar nerve transposition.
Reyes will visit specialist Dr. Lewis Yocum in Los Angeles later this week to get a second opinion. If the surgery is performed, the recovery period is between four to six months, according to head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff.
Other medical updates today:
Aaron Laffey will be out four to six weeks with his right oblique strain.
Travis Hafner (sore right shoulder) was pulled from his rehab assignment after three at-bats yesterday because of tightness in his back. It is not considered serious. Hafner will take BP here at Progressive Field on Tuesday and Wednesday and return to Columbus to resume his rehab assignment later this week.
Joe Smith (strained right rotator cuff) threw a 40-pitch bullpen today and will throw a live batting practice session here Wednesday. He could go out on rehab by the end of the week.
Jake Westbrook (Tommy John surgery) will advance to three innings or 50 pitches in his next extended spring outing this week. He will likely go out on rehab assignment the first week of June and will probably make four or five starts in the Minors before he’s ready to rejoin the Tribe.