May 2009

5/25: Indians vs. Rays

A Happy Memorial Day to you and yours. Tonight’s 6:05 p.m. ET at Progressive Field will be broadcast on WTAM and STO. A standard-issue day off for Asdrubal Cabrera, and Jamey Carroll’s first start in the leadoff spot.

cle.gifINDIANS (17-28):
2B Jamey Carroll, DH Grady Sizemore, C Victor Martinez, SS Jhonny Peralta, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Mark DeRosa, 1B Ryan Garko, LF Matt LaPorta, CF Ben Francisco. RHP Fausto Carmona (2-4, 5.74).



tb.gifRAYS (23-23):
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. LHP David Price (first start).

I'll get put in the back on the discount rack, like another can of beans

The Taste of Cincinnati is taking place downtown this weekend, and I must say I’m a little disappointed with the musical lineup.

Don’t the organizers of this event know the proper “Taste of [insert city name here]” protocol? The entertainment selection at the Cincinnati includes Randy Houser, the Rusty Griswolds, Katie Todd and Big Whiskey.

Taste2009banner.jpgNow, I’ll confess I’ve never heard of any of these people or bands. And for all I know, they are all brilliant. But the Cincinnati selection seems to veer more toward up-and-comers than has-beens, and that’s a shame. None of these bands have been through the rigors of mild to modest success on the charts, followed by the humiliation of accepting an invitation to play at some Midwest city’s rib cook-off.

Third Eye Blind knows the drill. They’re performing at the Greater Cleveland Rib Cook-off this weekend. The same goes for Bret Michaels. And washed-up rockers like Michael Stanley and Donnie Iris are regulars at the Taste of Cleveland.

Get with the program, Cincy. The Taste of Cincinnati should include the taste of musical defeat.


  • Jhonny Peralta was once again out of the lineup and once again available off the bench. Wedge said he didn’t want to push Peralta, who jammed his right wrist sliding into third Friday night, because Peralta was just beginning to find his swing. Wedge didn’t want Peralta to compensate for the soreness and alter his swing. Peralta hopes to be back in the lineup Monday.
  • Wedge confirmed that Jeremy Sowers will get the starting nod either Wednesday or Thursday against the Rays. Huff is listed as the probable starter for Thursday, but Wedge said the Indians were still deciding whether or not to give Huff another start. As for Sowers, he was available out of the bullpen today, because this would have been his day to throw on the side, anyway.
  • Mark DeRosa arrived to the ballpark today and found a full set of hockey gear — a mask, pads, shin guards and a stick — set up at his locker. Some prankster put the gear there after DeRosa took a Jonny Gomes squibber off the right shin. The play was ruled an error on DeRosa, who has looked a bit rough around the edges at first base. But hard to fault him for that error, as the ball clearly had a lot of English on it. That was evidenced by the fact that it went off his shin and bounced all the way toward shortstop. “It was a tornado,” DeRosa said.
  • As for the hockey gear, DeRosa and closer Kerry Wood had some fun with it. Wood put it on and defended a baseball shot toward him by DeRosa, who admitted hockey was never his area of expertise as a kid.
  • Wedge said he’s starting to see some stability in the bullpen, and Greg Aquino (five scoreless innings), Luis Vizcaino (three scoreless innings in two appearances since the game-winning homer allowed to B.J. Upton on May 15) and Matt Herges (1.86 ERA in 9 2/3 innings) have played a big role in that. “They get it,” Wedge said of those three veterans who joined the organization this year. “You get to a certain point in time in your career where your heartbeat is where it needs to be. Regardless of what role you’re in, you get it.”
  • Cliff Lee was gearing up for his Interleague start by taking a few dry swings in the locker room. Victor Martinez’s 4-year-old son, Victor Jose, was also swinging a bat. “Today,” Lee told little Victor, “I’m going to be just like your papi.”
  • Speaking of papi Martinez, he is the 10th-hardest hitter to strike out in the AL. He has just one strikeout per 11.8 plate appearances. He’s walked 25 times and struck out 17.
  • Lastly, the Rays are coming to Cleveland this week, and it will be interesting to see if any lingering emotions remain from last week’s drama in The Trop. Rays manager Joe Maddon received a $500 fine for inciting the benches-clearing, non-fracas that ensued between the Tribe and the Rays, and he called the fine “unjust.”


5/24: Indians at Reds

Today’s 1:10 p.m. ET game at Great American Ball Park will be broadcast on WTAM and STO. Peralta remains out of the lineup after jamming his wrist Friday night.

cle2.gifINDIANS (17-27): SS Asdrubal Cabrera, CF Grady Sizemore, 1B Victor Martinez, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Mark DeRosa, LF Ben Francisco, C Kelly Shoppach, 2B Luis Valbuena, LHP Cliff Lee (2-5, 2.90).



cin.gifREDS (22-20): CF Willy Taveras, 2B Jerry Hairston Jr., RF Jay Bruce, LF Jonny Gomes, 1B Ramon Hernandez, 3B Adam Rosales, SS Alex Gonzalez, C Ryan Hanigan, RHP Johnny Cueto (4-2, 2.35).

Kentucky woman, if she get to know you, she goin' to own you

After stopping briefly in a corner market near my Covington, Ky., hotel this morning, I’m having a difficult time deciding which of the two workers there was my favorite. Was it the toothless woman working the register? Or was it the woman who was about five months pregnant and sucking down a cigarette?

Ah, decisions, decisions, decisions.


  • The Indians aren’t yet sure how long to expect Anthony Reyes and Aaron Laffey to be out, but obviously Reyes’ elbow problem is the bigger of the two concerns. Reyes didn’t say exactly how long his elbow has been bothering him, but he made it clear it’s an issue he’s been battling — and his fastball velocity this season backs that up. “I had to slow down [my delivery] to get it over the plate,” Reyes said.
  • Actually, it was a miracle Reyes got through those first three innings last night without allowing more than one run. “That shows you how tough he is,” Eric Wedge said.
  • As reported below, Jeremy Sowers is not listed as the probable to replace Reyes in the rotation Wednesday against the Rays. That spot is up in the air, with Sowers very much a candidate for the job. For now, Sowers is available out of the bullpen, as the Indians wanted to give themselves some insurance with rookie David Huff making his second start.
  • Rich Rundles will probably be used as more of a left-on-left matchup guy.
  • Why didn’t Rafael Perez (six scoreless innings at Columbus since his May 6 demotion) get the call? “He’s on the right path, and we need to leave him alone,” Wedge said. “We’re going to let him keep going and doing his thing.” Wedge has received positive reports about the progress of Perez’s slider.
  • Jhonny Peralta jammed his wrist sliding into third last night, and Wedge decided to play the safe route by giving Peralta a day off, especially with the Indians in the midst of playing 20 games in 20 days. But Peralta’s injury does not appear to be anything serious, as he’s available off the bench tonight.
  • The Indians have lost five straight in Cincinnati, dating back to 2007. They are a combined 1-6 against the Reds over the last two years.
  • The Tribe entered today a season-worst 9 1/2 games back in the AL Central standings.
  • Travis Hafner went 2-for-3 with a double, a homer, two walks and two runs scored in Columbus’ 10-4 win over Buffalo on Friday night. Pronk had today off and will play again tomorrow. He’ll then be evaluated to determine if he’s ready to rejoin the Tribe.
  • LHP Chuck Lofgren continues to impress at Double-A Akron. He took a tough-luck loss against Erie last night, alllowing just an unearned run on four hits with two walks and eight strikeouts ove rsix innings. He is now 3-1 with a 1.35 ERA in seven starts. that’s the second-best ERA in the Eastern League. Before the season, there was talk of yanking Lofgren from the Double-A rotation if he got off to a rough start, so you have to give him credit for the way he’s rebounded thus far.
  • You like reading, and you like football, right? Sure you do. So why not give, “Bearcats Rising,” my buddy Josh Katzowitz’s upcoming book on UC football a shot? It’s available for preorders now.


5/23: Indians at Reds

Tonight’s 7:10 p.m. ET game at Great American Ball Park will be broadcast on WTAM and STO. Jhonny Peralta gets a day off after jamming his wrist while sliding into third last night, but he’s available off the bench. Eric Wedge called this a “National League lineup.”

SS Asdrubal Cabrera, CF Grady Sizemore, C Victor Martinez, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 1B Mark DeRosa, LF Matt LaPorta, 2B Luis Valbuena, 3B Jamey Carroll, LHP David Huff (0-1, 17.18).



CF Willy Taveras, 3B Jerry Hairston Jr., 1B Joey Votto, 2B Brandon Phillips, LF Jonny Gomes, RF Jay Bruce, C Ramon Hernandez, SS Alex Gonzalez, RHP Homer Bailey (first start).

Reyes, Laffey to DL; Sowers, Rundles promoted

Friday night’s injuries to right-handed starter Anthony Reyes and left-handed reliever Aaron Laffey forced the Indians to make a pair of roster moves Saturday.

Both Reyes, who has right elbow inflammation, and Laffey, who has a right oblique strain, landed on the 15-day disabled list. In their place, the Indians have promoted left-handed starter Jeremy Sowers and left-handed reliever Rich Rundles from Triple-A Columbus.

Sowers will likely  is a candidate to assume Reyes’ spot in the rotation, which comes up again Wednesday against the Rays. The Indians just sent Sowers down to Columbus last week after a pair of starts against the Red Sox and White Sox in which he was roughed up for 12 runs on 14 hits in nine innings, good for an 0-2 record and 12.00 ERA.

While with Columbus this season, Sowers has gone 2-1 with a 2.03 ERA in five starts, striking out 26 and walking seven in 31 innings. In his return to Triple-A last Sunday, he allowed just a run on six hits in seven innings in a win at Scranton.

Rundles becomes the lone left-hander in the Indians’ bullpen. He has spent most of this year at Columbus, where he’s gone 1-1 with a save and a 3.21 ERA in 15 appearances, striking out 15 and walking seven in 14 innings. Triple-A hitters batted .255 off him, while left-handers have hit .200. Rundles spent one day with the Tribe last month in case of emergency in the bullpen but did not appear in a game.

Obviously, the Indians didn’t feel Rafael Perez is ready to rejoin them, though he has put up good numbers at Columbus.

UPDATE: Contrary to previous speculation on my part, Sowers is not guaranteed to get Wednesday’s start, though he is a candidate. He’s here tonight as a backup, of sorts, to David Huff. Sowers will be available out of the ‘pen, and, even if he’s used, would still be eligible to start Wednesday. Basically, the Indians’ pitching staff is very much in “day to day” mode. Big fun.

Reyes leaves with elbow inflammation, Laffey injures side

You had to figure something was wrong with Anthony Reyes, who lasted just three innings in which he threw only 23 of his 59 pitches for strikes tonight.

The Indians just announced that Reyes left the game with right elbow inflammation. No further word yet on the severity of the injury, but obviously Reyes has a history of chronic elbow trouble.

POSTGAME UPDATE: No official word on the status of Reyes or Aaron Laffey, who left in the eighth inning with an injury to his right side — possibly the oblique muscle.

Both Reyes and Laffey will be evaluated Saturday to determine if they must go on the DL.

Given Reyes’ command and velocity issues this season, it’s reasonably safe to assume this elbow thing isn’t a new development. As for Laffey, the side injury is a new one.

If Reyes and/or Laffey do go on the DL, there aren’t a heck of a lot of promising options down on the farm. Jeremy Sowers (who has not been in Columbus for 10 days but would be eligible to come back in the event of an injury), Zach Jackson, tomo Ohka and Kirk Saarloos are options in Columbus. Hector Rondon is back in the Akron rotation, but I doubt the Indians would promote him so soon.

The starter issue won’t sprout up until the middle of next week. In the meantime, if the Indians need bullpen help, they have the option of bringing back Rafael Perez, who has tossed six scoreless innings for Columbus since his May 6 demotion. They could take a look at John Meloan, but his 6.75 ERA is a little scary.

We’ll know more tomorrow, as tends to be the case in life.

Ay, oh, way to go, Ohio

Cavs-Magic? Fugghetaboutit. It’s time for the Ohio Cup (presented by the Ohio Lottery), baby!

DunnRobOhioCup-thumb-360x270-1176171.jpgThe Ohio Cup — yes, there is an actual object, and here it is pictured with Reds media relations legend Rob Butcher and former Reds outfielder Adam Dunn — was just wheeled out on the field and polished in front of an adoring crowd. And an orchestra is tuning up for the National Anthem by performing spectacular renditions of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “Bah Bah Black Sheep.”

If you’re not here… you’re somewhere else.


  • Two game-time changes to note. The Sunday, June 14, game against the Cardinals has been picked up by ESPN as the “Sunday Night Baseball” special, so the game time has been changed from 1:05 p.m. ET to 8:09 p.m. Also, the Saturday, July 4, game against the A’s has been dropped from FOX’s broadcast slate and is now a 7:05 p.m. game on SportsTime Ohio, rather than a 4:05 p.m. game. An Independence Day fireworks spectacle will follow the game.
  • Jhonny Peralta is back at shortstop and Asdrubal Cabrera is back at second base… for tonight, anyway. Eric Wedge said the decision to move those guys back to their original roles came down to his desire to get Ryan Garko into tonight’s lineup, with the hope that Garko can “run into one” against Arroyo. Wedge also wanted to keep Mark DeRosa in the lineup because of his strong numbers against Arroyo (9-for-21 with a double and a homer).
  • I have a hunch Wedge never eats the same breakfast on consecutive days.
  • Grady Sizemore is back in the outfield tonight after spending the Kansas City series in the DH spot. He tested his out his sore left elbow with a game of catch after stretch and was reportedly feeling better today. “The time in the DH spot was good for him,” Wedge said.
  • While the blog was on hiatus, Akron right-hander Jeanmar Gomez went out and threw an 87-pitch perfect game against Trenton in a 3-0 victory Thursday. It was the first perfect game in Aeros franchise history and the first nine-inning, complete-game shutout since right-hander Adam Miller had one in August 2006. It was the first perfect game in the Minors since July 15, 2007. Gomez struck out eight batters. He is now 4-0 with one run allowed in 29 innings for an ERA of 0.31. Opponents are batting .097 off him.
  • Joe Smith (strained right rotator cuff) is with the club here in Cincy. He threw a 25-pitch bullpen session Thursday and will throw another bullpen here on Sunday. The plan is for Smith to pitch to hitters when the Indians get back home early in the coming week and then send him out on a rehab assignment.
  • Smith was happy to come on this last leg of the trip — not just because he’s a Cincinnati native but also because being the only guy back at Progressive Field got a little tiresome. “I was begging to get out of there,” he said. “I was there by myself.”
  • Travis Hafner (sore right shoulder) is 7-for-17 in his rehab assignment. He had another three hits, including a double, and three RBIs in Columbus’ 6-4 win at Buffalo on Thursday. He’ll play again tonight and on Sunday, getting Saturday off. Wedge said this will be an important test for Hafner, playing three out of four games. Pronk will be evaluated after Sunday’s action to determine if he’s ready to rejoin the Tribe on Monday in Cleveland. “He’s got to be able to withstand the volume, first of all,” Wedge said. “And secondly, we want to see a swing that works.”
  • Clippers manager Torey Lovullo sees that swing. “He’s taking some good, powerful swings under the ball,” Lovullo told reporters. “What we saw seven days ago was a guy who’s timing was out of whack. Each day, it’s progressed and gotten better.”
  • Brandon Phillips talked to Cincinnati reporters about his Tribe tenure. The gist is that Phillips and Wedge didn’t mesh. “Everything I did wasn’t on their standard,” Phillips said.
  • Jensen Lewis, who hasn’t pitched in a game in a week, joked that he feels like he’s on “paid vacation.” He threw in the bullpen in Kansas City and was told by Wedge that he’s currently in more of a long relief role as he tries to get straightened out.
  • The Indians are 108-103 all-time in Interleague Play.


5/22: Indians at Reds

Game 1 of the epic Ohio Cup takes place at 7:10 p.m. ET at Great American Ball Park. The game will air on SportsTime Ohio and WMMS 100.7 FM.

2B Asdrubal Cabrera, CF Grady Sizemore, C Victor Martinez, RF Shin-Soo Choo, SS Jhonny Peralta, 3B Mark DeRosa, 1B Ryan Garko, LF Ben Francisco, RHP Anthony Reyes (1-1, 6.88).



CF Willy Taveras, 3B Jerry Hairston Jr., RF Jay Bruce, 2B Brandon Phillips, LF Laynce Nix, C Ramon Hernandez, 1B Adam Rosales, SS Alex Gonzalez, RHP Bronson Arroyo (5-3, 6.56).

Rondon relieved from relief work; blog on break

Hector Rondon’s bullpen experiment — a rather controversial move, to begin with — was short-lived. After just two appearances out of the Akron bullpen, Rondon has been moved back to the Aeros’ starting rotation. He’s listed as Wednesday’s starter at Trenton.

Rondon is 5-1 with a 1.95 ERA on the season.

You can follow all the Tribe news from Kansas City on this week. Additionally, on Wednesday, I’ll have a feature on the progress of left-hander Juan Lara, who is attempting to revive his baseball career after a near-fatal car accident in November 2007.

This blog will be back in action with its usual format on Friday.