June 2009

6/15: Indians vs. Brewers

Tonight’s 7:05 p.m. ET game will be broadcast on ESPN and WTAM.

cle2.gifINDIANS (29-36):
2B Jamey Carroll, LF Mark DeRosa, 1B Victor Martinez, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Jhonny Peralta, DH Travis Hafner, CF Ben Francisco, SS Luis Valbuena, C Kelly Shoppach. RHP Carl Pavano (6-5, 5.40).



mil2.gifBREWERS (34-29):
2B Craig Counsell, 3B Casey McGehee, LF Ryan Braun, 1B Prince Fielder, RF Corey Hart, CF Mike Cameron, DH Matt Gamel, SS J.J. Hardy, C Mike Rivera. RHP Dave Bush (3-3, 4.58).

Give me hope, give me comfort, get me to a better place

tompetty.jpgWalking down E. 9th Street, en route to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Bruce Springsteen Fan Fest (which is worth about 19 separate blog entries on its own) this afternoon, my friend and I passed a CVS. On a placard listing the store hours was the name of the store manager:

Tom Petty.

I’ve passed this store many times over the last few years, and Tom’s name is always listed there. He clearly is doing a fine job and is secure in his position.

Or maybe not. My friend and I got to thinking… What if this Tom Petty guy is actually doing a horrible job — the shelves go unstocked for weeks at a time, the bathroom’s never clean, they’re serving spoiled milk, there’s always money missing from the register at the
cvs.jpg end of the night. But the CVS district manager in charge of this particular store is a huge, huge fan of that other Tom Petty — the one who, of course, is enshrined in the aforementioned Rock Hall — and just doesn’t have the courage or the nerve to fire a guy with the same name as his idol?

Now, that’s job security. If the guy running the photo lab is named Mike Campbell and the guy in charge of the pharmacy is Benmont Tench, we’ll know for sure that something’s up.


  • The Indians flip-flopped David Huff and Tomo Ohka in the rotation last week, figuring Ohka could be skipped for two turns in the rotation with the upcoming off days. Following Ohka’s strong start Saturday, the Tribe has not announced its plans for the fourth spot going forward. Obviously, Huff has also pitched well, and you’d have to imagine the Indians would lean toward the younger guy with more upside. “We haven’t discussed anything,” Eric Wedge said. “We don’t have to make a decision yet.”
  • Actually, by the time the Indians must make that decision, Jake Westbrook and/or Aaron Laffey could be ready to rejoin the rotation. So it will be interesting to see how Jeremy Sowers and Huff pitch over the next couple weeks, potentially with their big-league job on the line.
  • Speaking of Laffey, who is recovering from a strained right oblique muscle, he threw his third bullpen session Saturday and will throw a simulated session against hitters on Monday. He said he’ll then rest two days before going out on a Minor League rehab assignment. “Right now, they’re building me back up as a starter,” Laffey said. “I don’t think it will be too long a process, but the main thing is to build my pitch count back up.”
  • Wedge stated the obvious — Jhonny Peralta would be this club’s regular third baseman, if everybody in the infield were healthy. “I see him as a guy at third base and occasionally at shortstop,” Wedge said. It’s a conversation Wedge said he’s had with Peralta multiple times.
  • Peralta is 4-for-his-last-27.
  • No. 1 Draft pick Alex White went nine strong innings for North Carolina against Arizona State today, but he took a no-decision. White allowed just a run on seven hits with three walks and 12 strikeouts, but the Tar Heels went on to lose, 5-2, in 11 innings. On the other side, No. 2 pick Jason Kipnis started for Arizona State in center field and the two hole and went 1-for-4 with a walk and a run scored.
  • Double-A Akron right-hander Hector Rondon was pulled after just four scoreless innings in his start against Portland today. He gave up one hit with one walk and three strikeouts. According to the Aeros’ release, Rondon was pulled because he reached his pitch limit. He left a game earlier this month with biceps soreness, so he’s on a strict count.
  • Don’t forget about the American Red Cross blood drive, taking place on Gateway Plaza before Tuesday’s game.
  • Since his activation from the DL, Travis Hafner, who is off tonight, has hit .238 (5-for-21) with a double, homer and two RBis in six games.
  • Kelly Shoppach has struck out in each of his last four at-bats and seven of his last 15. He’s in a 4-for-32 funk.
  • After hearing at least one Billy Ocean song a day the last three days, I’m officially ready for the “80s Weekend” at Progressive Field to come to an end.


6/14: Indians vs. Cardinals

Tonight’s 8:05 p.m. ET game will be broadcast on WTAM and ESPN.

cle.gifINDIANS (28-36):
2B Jamey Carroll, LF Mark DeRosa, 1B Victor Martinez, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Jhonny Peralta, DH Ryan Garko, CF Ben Francisco, SS Luis Valbuena, C Kelly Shoppach. LHP Cliff Lee (3-6, 3.17).



stl.gifCARDINALS (34-29):
SS Brendan Ryan, LF Rick Ankiel, 1B Albert Pujols, RF Ryan Ludwick, DH Nick Stavinoha, C Yadier Molina, CF Colby Rasmus, 3B Tyler Greene, 2B Jared Shumaker. RHP Chris Carpenter (4-0, 1.23).

6/13: Indians vs. Cardinals

Today’s 4:10 p.m. ET game will be broadcast on FOX and WTAM.

cle3.gifINDIANS (28-35):
3B Jamey Carroll, LF Mark DeRosa, C Victor Martinez, RF Shin-Soo Choo, SS Jhonny Peralta, DH Travis Hafner, 1B Ryan Garko, 2B Luis Valbuena, CF Trevor Crowe. RHP Tomo Ohka (0-0, 5.40).



stl2.gifCARDINALS (33-29):
2B Jared Schumaker, LF Rick Ankiel, 1B Albert Pujols, CF Colby Rasmus, RF Ryan Ludwick, DH Chris Duncan, C Yadier Molina, 3B Joe Thurston, SS Brendan Ryan. RHP Brad Thompson (0-2, 4.50).

Get your kicks for a cause

A very touching story developed in Chagrin Falls last summer, and it led to the Indians' latest community endeavor.


A 9-year-old boy named Quinn Clarke, who is battling a rare form of cancer that affects roughly 100 people in the entire world, told his mom he wanted to use kickball to raise money to fight pediatric cancer. Five days later, 500 people from Quinn's neighborhood gathered for a kickball event that generated thousands of dollars for Flashes of Hope -- the non-profit organization founded by Quinn's parents that raises money for this worthy cause.


Now, the Indians are involved with Flashes of Hope for a new initiative in which kickball kits are being sold at kick-it.org and in the Indians Team Shops for $29.95 to raise additional money for the charity. You can set up kickball games in your neighborhood, and teams of kids will be chosen to play kickball at Progressive Field following Sunday home games in August and September.


It's a great story, a great cause and a great way to spend 30 bucks. Find out more and order your kit right here.

"That bird flew right into your head, like he couldn't avoid it!"

The gulls have taken over at Progressive Field. What was once a cute distraction became national news last night, when Shin-Soo Choo's game-winning single struck a bird, who came out with a limp, a missing feather and a story to tell his kids. seagull.jpg


Members of the Indians' ballpark operations staff were holed up in a meeting this afternoon to discuss the problem, and the club sent out a press release regarding the situation. This if the official word from vice president of public relations Bob DiBiasio:


“Over the past few weeks, the Cleveland Indians have been doing extensive research regarding the gull issue we’ve encountered at Progressive Field this season. This research has included contacting a variety of institutions, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Wildlife Research Center (including Hopkins and Burke Lakefront Airports), Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Ohio Division of Wildlife and Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, to name a few.  Main reason for this issue has been the increase of nesting pairs in Cleveland’s ‘Flats’ on flat top roof buildings. Gulls are riding the wind currents up the valley walls to the ballpark in search for food scraps to feed their young. The Indians are continuing to research ways to control this issue under the guidance of gulls being federally protected.”

I spoke with Harvey Webster, a wildlife expert at the Natural History Museum, this morning, and he told me we're dealing with some intelligent birds who know how to find free food (sounds like some media members I know... well, minus the intelligence, of course). Webster had some thoughts on why they might be here and whether the Indians have any chance of doing something about them.


That story is right here.


In the meantime...




  • Surprising nobody, Anthony Reyes had both the ulnar nerve transposition surgery and the Tommy John ligament replacement surgery in California this afternoon. As a result, he won't be back for a year.
  • Eric Wedge spoke at length today about how valuable Jamey Carroll is to this club. He said he views Carroll as more than your standard utility guy. "He's more of a regular," Wedge said, "but he's not a guy you're going to play seven days a week. If you give him calculated days off, he's going to perform."
  • And now, Carroll is the Tribe's leadoff man - at least, on the days he starts. Ben Francisco, who is 4-for-his-last-30, kind of nosedived in the leadoff role, so it's Carroll's turn. "I like him up at the top of the order, whether it's leadoff or the two hole," Wedge said of Carroll.
  • When it comes to that play involving the bird last night, the consensus in the Indians' clubhouse has been that Coco Crisp had no chance of throwing out Mark DeRosa, whether the ball struck the bird or not. That's difficult to dispute, if you've ever seen Coco throw.
  • DeRosa said he was less concerned with the bird and more worried that Choo's ball was struck too hard. He had already taken off for third and was momentarily concerned the ball would be caught on the fly.
  • Wedge said Luis Valbuena's numbers (.203 average, 277 on-base percentage, .351 slugging percentage) are no indication of the tough at-bats he's put up. He said Valbuena has not been overmatched up here. "He's a fierce competitor," Wedge said. "He's very demanding of himself." He's also off for the night.
  • The Indians have now won six games in which they were trailing after six innings. That surpasses last year's total.
  • A total of 10 Major League games were decided by one run last night.
  • Tomo Ohka will be the 507th starting pitcher used in the history of the Indians franchise tomorrow night, but he'll be just the second born in Japan. The legendary Kaz Tadano made four starts in 2004. Ohka will be the 10th starter used this season.
  • Jake Westbrook's second rehab start with Double-A Akron was rained out last night. He'll oppose Portland tonight, throwing four innings.
  • Scott Lewis threw three perfect innings for Class A Lake County against Delmarva last night. He'll make his next rehab start Tuesday.
  • The bullpen has allowed just one run over its last 12 1/3 innings of work, over three games.
  • Former Browns tight end Aaron Shea watched batting practice today. He wore an Affliction T-shirt.


6/12: Indians vs. Cardinals

The gulls aren’t the only birds in town. Tonight’s 7:05 p.m. ET game against the Cardinals will be broadcast on WTAM and STO. The Indians have another new leadoff hitter.

cle.gifINDIANS (27-35):
2B Jamey Carroll, 3B Mark DeRosa, 1B Victor Martinez, RF Shin-Soo Choo, SS Jhonny Peralta, DH Travis Hafner, CF Ben Francisco, LF Ryan Garko, C Kelly Shoppach. LHP David Huff (1-2, 8.71).



stl.gifCARDINALS (33-28):
SS Brendan Ryan, CF Rick Ankiel, 1B Albert Pujols, RF Ryan Ludwick, LF Nick Stavinoha, DH Chris Duncan, C Yadier Molina, 3B Tyler Greene, 2B Joe Thurston. RHP Joel Piniero (5-6, 3.97).

Gonna chase the clouds away

A wet and dreary day at the ballpark this afternoon led to batting practice taking place inside. So all the real entertainment had to come elsewhere…

Seen and heard No. 1: Walking by the ticket booth this afternoon, I overhead a guy say to the clerk, “Is this where you buy the Akron Aeros tickets? There are so many Minor Leaguers on this team!” He was really proud of himself for this witty banter. A nice effort, but Columbus Clippers would have been much more accurate.

Seen and heard No. 2: Bob Feller stopped in the hallway near the press box and was trying to read the writing on his jacket. I told him it read, “Cleveland Orchestra.” When I commented that it was a nice item, he said, “The price was right.” Feller gets a lot of freebies.

Seen and heard No. 3: Eric Wedge was working out in the weight room, where the “50 Most Outrageous Moments” in baseball history were airing on TV. One clip was of Chan Ho Park karate kicking the Angels’ Tim Belcher, who is now a special assistant to the Indians’ front office. Wedge got a big kick (no pun intended) out of this. “Belcher’s in like five of the 50 outrageous moments,” Wedge said.


  • Pitching coach Carl Willis explained the rotation flip-flop of David Huff and Tomo Ohka. While the original goal of separating similarly styled lefties Jeremy Sowers and Huff in next week’s Brewers series was scrapped (they’ll start back-to-back games Tuesday and Wednesday), Willis said he looked at the rotation long-term and saw that the Indians can go with four starters for two turns through the rotation after next Thursday’s off day. So Ohka can make this one start Saturday and then get skipped. And by the time the fifth spot is needed again, Jake Westbrook and/or Aaron Laffey might be ready to return.
  • Jhonny Peralta is back to shortstop and Luis Valbuena is back to second because Wedge felt Jamey Carroll needed a day off.
  • The First-Year Player Draft has come to a close. You can find the recaps of the Indians’ first 30 picks here: Day 1. Day 2. A recap of the Tribe’s Draft, as a whole, is right here.
  • A certain segment of the population no doubt enjoyed and appreciated the Draft’s move to prime-time for the first three rounds, though I’m not sure the execution was quite what it should have been. If you’re going to make the Draft a centerpiece event, as MLB has done, why hold it at the same time as many of your games? Why not hold the prime-time portion of the Draft on, say, a Monday, have little to no game action that day, and make the Draft the only show in town, so to speak?
  • One reason the Indians felt comfortable using back-to-back picks on pitchers from the University of Arizona is the success, so far, with last year’s selection of left-hander Eric Berger from that very school. Berger won his fourth game for Class A Kinston last night at Myrtle Beach. He is now 4-4 with a 2.37 ERA in 12 starts, ranking fourth in the Carolina League with 54 strikeouts in 60 2/3 innings.
  • Tomorrow night marks the start of 15 straight games against NL Central opponents. The Indians are 109-105 all-time in Interleague Play.
  • The Tribe ranks sixth in the AL in fielding percentage (.985) and leads the AL with 74 double plays turned. Shin-Soo Choo is now tied for fourth among AL outfielders with four assists.
  • On a sad note, Woodie Held, who played seven seasons with the Tribe from 1958-64, passed away this morning at the age of 77 after a long battle with cancer.
  • The Indians and American Red Cross will team up for a blood drive before Tuesday’s game against the Brewers. It will take place on the Gateway Plaza from noon to 8 p.m. ET. And it’s dollar dog night, so you can give blood and then harden your arteries a little bit.


6/11: Indians vs. Royals

Tonight’s 7:05 p.m. ET game will air on WTAM and STO.

cle.gifINDIANS (26-35):
LF Ben Francisco, 3B Mark DeRosa, C Victor Martinez, RF Shin-Soo Choo, SS Jhonny Peralta, DH Ryan Garko, 1B Chris Gimenez, 2B Luis Valbuena, CF Trevor Crowe. LHP Jeremy Sowers (1-3, 5.40).



kc.gifROYALS (25-33):
LF David DeJesus, CF Coco Crisp, 1B Billy Butler, RF Jose Guillen, 2B Alberto Callaspo, DH Brayan Pena, C Miguel Olivo, 3B Willie Bloomquist, SS Tony Pena. RHP Zack Greinke (8-2, 1.55).

"We have a wide variety of Gene picks!"

I’ll confess I have no idea what’s going on with the new ratings system on here. Such changes are instituted by the blog Powers That Be.

Personally, I don’t feel the need to be rated, ever since the unfortunate results of my appearance on the “Am I Hot or Not?” Web site.

But I must say I do like the “related articles” link. It reminds me of going to Blockbuster and looking at the “If you liked this, you’ll love this…” section. I wish we could rename this section of the blog “Vincent’s Picks.” And don’t worry, we’ll never call it “Gene’s Picks,” unless you’re the type that likes “Weekend at Bernie’s II” (and longtime readers of the Inbox nee Mailbag will note that’s the first Bernie’s reference in quite some time).

All right. Where were we?


  • All that talk about separating Jeremy Sowers and David Huff with Tomo Ohka (not for this time through the rotation but next time), and the Indians just changed course today. Huff is now slated to start Friday against the Cardinals, with Ohka getting the ball Saturday. So the Indians are still separating two lefties. It’s just that the lefties are Huff and Lee and not Sowers and Huff. But this would presumably mean Sowers and Huff start consecutive games against the Brewers on Tuesday and Wednesday, which seems odd, given that they are so similarly styled.
  • Lots of injury updates for you, courtesy of head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff. The big news is that not only is Anthony Reyes having the ulnar nerve transposition surgery recommended by the Indians, but he might also mix in a little Tommy John, for good measure. Dr. Lewis Yocum will perform the transposition on Friday and, if he discovers the ligament needs to be replaced, he’ll perform the Tommy John. If Reyes just has the transposition, he’ll miss four to six months. If he has the Tommy John, he’ll be a year away from being ready to pitch in the big leagues. Either way, his ’09 season is over.
  • The transposition surgery was originally to take place last Friday, but Reyes didn’t immediately consent to the possibility of Tommy John until he had several conversations with Yocum. So that was the holdup.
  • Grady Sizemore’s elbow pain has subsided in some areas, but he’s still feeling it on the joint. He’ll stay away from baseball activities for the next five days and have an MRI on Monday. The Indians still hope to avoid arthroscopic surgery on Sizemore. That surgery would cost him an additional four to six weeks.
  • It was reported yesterday that Jake Westbrook (Tommy John surgery) will make his second rehab start for Double-A Akron, tossing four innings on Thursday. And Scott Lewis (strained left forearm) is joining him on the rehab trail. Lewis will pitch three innings for Class A Lake County on Thursday. Westbrook will make a total of four or five rehab starts, and Lewis will probably make three to five.
  • Asdrubal Cabrera (left shoulder joint sprain) will be taking groundballs by this weekend. He’s responding well to treatment so far, and the hope is that he’ll be able to swing a bat in the next four to seven days.
  • Aaron Laffey (strained right oblique) threw a 30-pitch bullpen of nothing but fastballs and changeups on Tuesday and will throw a 40-pitch session using all his pitches on Thursday. The Indians are still hoping he can return at the end of this month or early in July.
  • The Indians spent 62 days in last place.
  • Triple-A Columbus outfielder Michael Brantley has been on a tear of late, batting .351 (27-for-77) with five doubles, two homers, nine RBIs and 17 runs scored since May 21. He’s raised his average from .233 to .275. He’s batting .441 in June.
  • The Diamondbacks drafted my favorite member of the 2009 class.
  • Sunday’s game against the Cardinals is a Cy Young special, as Cliff Lee will oppose Chris Carpenter. Don’t forget that’s now an 8:09 p.m. ET start, because it will be ESPN’s “Sunday Game of the Week.”
  • It was 50 years ago today that Rocky Colavito captured the attention and imagination of Tribe fans with his four-homer game in Baltimore. My dad idolized the Rock, so I’ve been hearing about this game my whole life. In this link, the Plain Dealer’s Bill Lubinger looks back on that historic day.

Finally today, on a note that does not fall into the realm of the minutia, Dick Jacobs was laid to rest this morning. Commissioner Bud Selig released the following statement about Jacobs: “Dick Jacobs was a true gentleman and a dear friend who did a magnificent job during his tenure as the owner of the Cleveland Indians from 1986-2001.  Under his stewardship, the Indians emerged as a model franchise and a perennial contender.  Dick understood the franchise’s significance to the community and used the club and the ballpark to improve the infrastructure of the city.

“Dick was one of the most enlightened and influential owners and was very helpful to me in restructuring the economics of baseball and in many other areas during the 1990s when we really changed the game. His legacy in his beloved Ohio will remain for generations and is best exemplified by the beautiful ballpark that has helped revitalize Cleveland.  On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest sympathy to his family and friends.” 


UPDATE: David Dellucci has resurfaced. He signed a Minor League deal with the Blue Jays.

UPDATE No. 2: Check out the Indians’ video tribute to Dick Jacobs here.