Tonight’s 7:38 p.m. ET game at Tropicana Field will be broadcast on WTAM and STO. Once again, it’s Peralta at third, Cabrera at short and DeRosa at first, with Garko bumping Ben Francisco.
INDIANS (14-22): CF Grady Sizemore, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, C Victor Martinez, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Jhonny Peralta, 1B Mark DeRosa, DH Ryan Garko, LF Matt LaPorta, 2B Jamey Carroll. RHP Anthony Reyes (1-1, 7.20).
RAYS (16-20): CF B.J. Upton, LF Carl Crawford, 3B Evan Longoria, 1B Carlos Pena, DH Willy Aybar, RF Gabe Gross, 2B Akinori Iwamura, SS Jason Bartlett, C Dioner Navarro. LHP Scott Kazmir (4-3, 5.92).
If this blog reads a little dumber today (not sure that’s even possible), then I place the blame on the episode of “American Idol” that I was subjected to last night. When the hour was over, I felt like I needed to read a high school biology textbook just to get back to some semblance of mental stimulation.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…
- Jhonny Peralta isn’t thrilled with the prospect of bouncing back and forth between third and short. “It’s not frustrating,” he said, “but I’d like to be at one position, instead of moving all the time.” When I asked him what he thinks of playing third tonight, he responded, “What do you think?” I think Jhonny’s upset.
- Still, this is a move you had to see coming at some point this season, and Eric Wedge said to get used to it. “This is something I think we’ll see more of,” he said.
- RHP Vinnie Chulk, designated for assignment last week, cleared waivers and has accepted an assignment to Columbus.
- Wedge said Hector Rondon will work out of the Akron bullpen again Friday night. He said that even if Rondon had remained in the Akron rotation, he would not have been a candidate for Sunday’s spot start. “Obviously, we see him as a starter [long-term],” Wedge said. “But for him to be an option for us [this year], the best way could be out of the bullpen. We want to take some time and see if he is an option.”
- An option that might be a little closer is right-hander Steven Wright, who, you’ll remember, was moved from the Akron rotation to the bullpen earlier this month. Wright was promoted to Columbus today after giving up just one run on seven hits with three walks and nine strikeouts in four relief appearances for Akron. Wright was a second-round Draft pick out of Hawaii in 2006.
- The bullpen has been better lately, posting a 1.59 ERA over the last six games.
- Right-hander Joey Mahalic has been promoted from Class A Lake County to Kinston after going 0-1 with a 1.91 ERA in six starts.
- OF Nick Weglarz got off to a horrid start for Akron this season, but he’s come on strong this month. He is batting .448 with a .541 on-base percentage and a .793 slugging percentage in May, driving in 14 of Akron’s 48 runs in the month.
- Trevor Crowe is just 4-for-29 since his demotion to Columbus.
It’s always an adventure around here. For tonight’s 7:08 p.m. ET game at Tropicana Field, we’ve got Peralta at third and DeRosa at first, as Wedge had hinted. The game will air on WTAM and STO.
INDIANS (13-22): CF Grady Sizemore, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, C Victor Martinez, DH Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Jhonny Peralta, 1B Mark DeRosa, LF Ben Francisco, RF Matt LaPorta, 2B Luis Valbuena. RHP Fausto Carmona (1-4, 5.57).
RAYS (16-19): CF B.J. Upton, SS Jason Bartlett, 3B Evan Longoria, 1B Carlos Pena, DH Willy Aybar, RF Gabe Gross, LF Ben Zobrist, 2B Akinori Iwamura, C Michael Hernandez. RHP James Shields (3-3, 4.02).
The Indians made the expected roster move of signing RHP Luis Vizcaino and adding him to the Major League roster today. He’ll assume a spot in the Tribe’s bullpen after getting cut by the Cubs on April 23. The Cubs are paying Vizcaino $3.5 million this season, and the Indians only have to pay him the pro-rated portion of the Major League minimum.
What wasn’t as expected was the corresponding roster move. LHP Jeremy Sowers was sent back to Triple-A Columbus after two spot starts.
Sowers was slated to start Sunday here in Tampa Bay, so the Indians have an opening now. Perhaps they’ll move LHP Aaron Laffey back to the rotation. Otherwise, they’ll make another roster move this weekend.
I’ll have more info tonight, after we talk to the manager.
UPDATE: Laffey won’t be moved back to the rotation — at least, not on this turn through. Wedge made that clear. So it looks like somebody’s going to get the call from Columbus.
Who? Well, David Huff makes the most sense, as he’s inarguably the best arm in the starting staff down there, and Sunday would be his fifth day after getting the win over Lehigh Valley on Tuesday. GM Mark Shapiro said the Indians wanted to see better fastball command and secondary stuff from Huff before he’s ready to come up, but that was before Sowers blew up Tuesday night. Things change in a hurry around here.
It won’t be Tomo Ohka or Kirk Saarloos, because they just pitched in today’s doubleheader. The only other options, then, are LHP Zach Jackson (1-2, 5.84 ERA in five appearances, including two starts) and RHP Jack Cassel (2-3, 7.52 ERA in six starts), but Cassel is slated to pitch Friday.
Jackson is on the 40-man. Huff is not, but that can change. We should know the answer tomorrow.
It’s a dichotomy of a day.
As part of WKYC’s “Weather Education Days” program, there are thousands of little kids here as part of class field trips. As I walked into the ballpark this morning, the screaming kids were enjoying the song and dance routine of people dressed up as a rain drop, a cloud and a sun (with sunglasses, of course… which is kind of like a bug spraying itself with OFF!). I believe the Jonas Brothers were playing over the speakers, but don’t quote me on that.
And then, on the other end of the spectrum, we’ve got Nathan Followill, drummer for the rock group Kings of Leon, in the house. The Kings are performing tonight at the Tower City Amphitheater — or whatever name it’s referred to these days — and Followill threw out a ceremonial first pitch.
Followill was here at the invitation of Grady Sizemore, who is a big fan of the Kings.
“It’s safe to say that’s my favorite band,” Sizemore said.
Grady met them after a show over the offseason, and he’s a little bummed out that the Indians’ travel plans (they are bound for Tampa immediately following today’s game) won’t allow him to check out tonight’s show.
No word on Sizemore’s feelings about the Jonas Brothers.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…
- Luis Vizcaino will, indeed, be on that flight to Tampa. Not sure if the official roster move will be made after today’s game or before tomorrow’s game in Tampa, but, one way or another, it will get done. No word on who’s getting the axe, but my gut tells me Masa Kobayashi (my gut has been wrong before, however).
- Pitching coach Carl Willis watched Vizcaino throw two bullpen sessions this week. “He seems to command the ball very well,” Willis said. “The second BP session, the ball came out of his hand much better. It showed some sink. His slider is tough to pick up. There was a noticeable difference from the first to the second time.”
- Hector Rondon’s first exposure to relief work didn’t go so well. Rondon was tagged with three runs, two of which were earned, on six hits in just two innings against Bowie, and he took his first loss of the season.
- The Indians have to be careful not to put so much emphasis on saving the ‘pen that they compromise their ability to bolster the rotation. It’s a sad state of affairs when you can make an argument that the rotation has been the strongest component to the team to this point, and yet it has an 8-15 record and a 5.67 ERA that is the second-worst in the American League. This is an issue addressed in my story on Indians.com today.
- Travis Hafner’s rehab assignment, as expected, will begin Friday in Columbus. He’s hoping to be with the Indians by the end of their 10-game road trip. The rehab can last up to 20 days, if need be, but it should be shorter than that, if all goes to plan.
- Jim Thome now has 14 homers and 42 RBIs in 53 career games against the Indians. He is batting .300 with five doubles, seven homers and 25 RBIs in 26 games as an opponent at Progressive Field. In his career, 183 of his 547 home runs have come in this ballpark.
- Andy Marte is swinging a hot bat for Columbus. He’s batting .382 (18-for-47) with four doubles, a triple, three homers and 14 RBIs over his last 15 games.
- If you’re bored at work, give this baseball quiz a shot.
UPDATE: No official roster move was made after today’s game, though one will come down Friday. I know this much: Masa Kobayashi is on the flight to Tampa.
On a completely unrelated note, today’s game raised $30,580 for Our Lady of the Wayside as part of the Tribe’s “Fill the House for Charity” initiative.
Today’s 12:05 p.m. ET at Progressive Field will be broadcast on WTAM and STO.
INDIANS (12-22): CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera, 1B Victor Martinez, RF Shin-Soo Choo, SS Jhonny Peralta, DH Ryan Garko, 3B Jamey Carroll, LF Matt LaPorta, C Kelly Shoppach. LHP Cliff Lee (1-5, 3.45).
WHITE SOX (15-17): 2B Jayson Nix, LF Scott Podsednik, RF Jermaine Dye, 1B Paul Konerko, C A.J. Pierzynski, 3B Josh Fields, DH Wilson Betemit, SS Alexei Ramirez, CF Brent Lillibridge. LHP Mark Buehrle (5-0, 2.61).
General manager Mark Shapiro met with the media this afternoon. He makes it a point to have these sessions with reporters anytime the club is mired in a particularly rough stretch, and I, for one, give him credit for that.
You can probably guess what the chief topic was today — the job security of Eric Wedge.
Shapiro expressed nothing but confidence in Wedge and his staff and said he is convinced the energy and effort level by all involved is where it needs to be.
“I feel the answers are here,” Shapiro said, “with Eric and this coaching staff and these players.”
You can get the full spectrum of Shapiro’s thoughts in my story on Indians.com, which should be up soon.
In the meantime, the minutia.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…
- To me, the most interesting news of the day is that RHP Hector Rondon has moved from the Double-A Akron rotation to the bullpen. This is considered bold, by Tribe standards, because while there is clearly an emphasis on the bullpen at present, the need for depth in the rotation is also apparent. This just shows how desperate the Indians are for back-end relief help, and Rondon, possessor of a 5-0 record, 1.23 ERA, .208 average against, 0.92 WHIP, 26 strikeouts and five walks in 29 1/3 innings, figures to provide it. He was slated to start for Akron tonight but was instead available out of the ‘pen.
- Rondon is not the first player making this move this year, just the latest. Aaron Laffey did it at the big-league level, and Steven Wright, Frank Herrmann and Zach Putnam have done it in the Minors. Are the Indians mortgaging their future to save the ’09 bullpen? This is what Shapiro had to say when asked that question: “We have a very careful process of balancing and understanding the importance of the future and respecting that in all of our decisions. Yet the goal is to win championships in this ballpark, and there’s a time when that focus shifts to taking advantage of that window of opportunity. There’s some sense of urgency and importance to where we are as a Major League team right now. That balance and pendulum is going to shift toward that team right now.”
- So the Indians are getting a little more bold with their thinking and their lineup – or at least that’s the plan. Wedge started Matt LaPorta against a left-hander tonight, which was an obvious move, but both Wedge and Shapiro said to expect to see more of LaPorta in the coming days. He’ll get regular opportunities at first base (which was his position in college) and in the outfield, likely at the expense of David Dellucci and Ben Francisco.
- With Jamey Carroll on board, Wedge is planning on giving Jhonny Peralta some time at third base. Asdrubal Cabrera can, of course, move over to short, and the right-handed Carroll and left-handed Valbuena offer balanced options at second base. Mark DeRosa can expect to see more time at first base and in the outfield.
- Basically nothing in the lineup is set in stone right now — not even, as mentioned yesterday, Wedge’s long-standing stubbornness regarding Grady Sizemore and the leadoff spot. “Things can change daily,” Wedge said.
- Also in the Minors today, 1B Matt McBride has moved up from Kinston to Akron. It was a well-earned promotion. McBride was batting .405 with 15 doubles, six homers and 36 RBIs in 31 games. He was converted from catcher to first base this season.
- Bob Feller will hold a book signing of his “Little Blue Book of Baseball Wisdom” during tomorrow’s afternoon game. If you’re in attendance (I’m talking to YOU, Mike Kovack!), look for Bob outside Section 156.
- Sitting in the Tribe clubhouse today was a well-crafted card from the students of Willoughby Middle School. Jensen Lewis visited the school today as part of The Plain Dealer’s Newspapers in Education program.
Tonight’s 7:05 p.m. ET game at Progressive Field will be broadcast on WTAM and STO.
UPDATE: Quentin was scratched with a sore heel and replaced by Lillibridge.
INDIANS (12-21): CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera, C Victor Martinez, 3B Mark DeRosa, RF Shin-Soo Choo, SS Jhonny Peralta, DH Ryan Garko, 1B Matt LaPorta, LF Ben Francisco. LHP Jeremy Sowers (0-1, 12.60).
WHITE SOX (14-17): SS Jayson Nix, 2B Chris Getz, RF Jermaine Dye, DH Jim Thome, 1B Paul Konerko, 3B Josh Fields, C Corky Miller, LF Scott Podsednik, CF Brent Lillibridge. LHP Clayton Richard (0-0, 4.41).
Jamey Carroll has been activated from the disabled list after a three-game rehab at Triple-A Columbus. To make room for Carroll, the Indians optioned Josh Barfield back to Columbus.
Carroll suffered a broken bone in his left hand in his last at-bat of the spring exhibition season, on April 4 in Houston. He was 3-for-11 with two runs in three games for the Clippers and went 2-for-4 with a double last night.
Barfield was the Tribe’s pinch-runner. This is the second time he’s been demoted this season. He was 3-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI.
Will be interesting to see how Eric Wedge doles out the playing time between Carroll and Luis Valbuena, who now share the role of utility infielder.
UPDATE: Why did Barfield get bounced instead of Valbuena? Wedge likes having both a left-handed [Valbuena] and right-handed [Carroll] option at second base, as he’s planning on playing Asdrubal Cabrera more at short and giving Jhonny Peralta some time at third (you had to know that was coming eventually this season).
Wedge also likes having two utility guys who can play third, rather than Barfield, who was only considered an option at second base and the outfield (and the Indians have plenty of outfielders).
Tonight’s 7:05 p.m. ET game at Progressive Field will be broadcast on WMMS 100.7 FM and STO.
INDIANS (11-21): CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera, 1B Victor Martinez, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Mark DeRosa, SS Jhonny Peralta, DH David Dellucci, LF Ben Francisco, C Kelly Shoppach. RHP Carl Pavano (2-3, 6.61).
WHITE SOX (14-16): 2B Chris Getz, CF Brent Lillibridge, LF Carlos Quentin, RF Jermaine Dye, DH Jim Thome, 1B Paul Konerko, C A.J. Pierzynski, 3B Josh Fields, SS Alexei Ramirez. RHP Gavin Floyd (2-2, 6.29).