Room at the top
I greet you from the Great White North, and, more specifically, the Rogers Centre press box.
All my pregame entries come from whatever press box I happen to be in habiting, but, for the first time, that streak was in jeopardy today. When I checked into the Renaissance hotel connected to the stadium, I was informed that I’ll be staying in one of the “stadium view” rooms. My room directly overlooks the field from its perch atop the center field scoreboard, and this afforded me the very real possibility of covering tonight’s game in pajamas with HBO on the TV.
But since I didn’t even pack pajamas, I figured I better make the short commute. So if David Dellucci pokes a pinch-hit, 500-foot bomb that is as high as it is long tonight, I won’t be there to catch it.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…
- Dellucci. Yes, he is back in the big leagues. I must admit I somehow missed that July 3 transaction and didn’t even realize the Jays had purchased his contract from Triple-A Las Vegas until I saw him taking BP and shaking hands with his old mates. Alas, he’s 1-for-23 with the Jays and hasn’t made a start since fouling a ball off his foot Friday night (I can almost hear you saying, “Sounds about right”).
- The Dellucci era was surrounded by negativity, and Dellucci said he was upset with the way Tribe fans treated him. “I thought it was uncalled for, because I tried my best,” he said. “I tried to beat a double play and tore my hamstring off the bone. The guys in the clubhouse know I gave my all.”
- Dellucci was definitely an asset to the clubhouse. He’s a veteran with a World Series ring, and he wasn’t afraid to get on young guys when they weren’t doing things the right way. But in signing a three-year, $11.5 million contract (a hefty commitment for this financially strapped club), Dellucci accepted expectations that his bat couldn’t live up to. And they weren’t even lofty expectations. Fans just wanted him to do what he was hired to do and hit right-handed pitching. It never materialized with any consistency. But Dellucci, in addition to being a fellow Italian, is a class act, and I, for one, wish him well.
- Regarding the rotation, there was some mystery as to who would get the ball for Thursday’s series finale here. The Indians had that spot listed as “TBD.” Well, it’s David Huff, getting his regular turn. I don’t know what the suspense was all about, and neither, apparently, did Eric Wedge. “I didn’t even know it wasn’t announced,” Wedge said.
- With that mystery solved, the question now is who will get the ball Saturday in Seattle. Only two obvious candidates exist — Tomo Ohka and Jeremy Sowers. Fausto Carmona is pitching tonight for Triple-A Columbus and is not an option. Though the Indians have a healthy dose of off days in the weeks ahead, Wedge said the club will need to carry a fifth starter.
- Here’s another, more pressing mystery: What’s wrong with Victor Martinez? He’s 6-for-49 in July and 9-for-83 since June 20. Wedge said he feels Martinez’s at-bats have been better and he’s had some tough luck. But the numbers aren’t inspiring. In this week’s Inbox, a reader asked if the dip is a byproduct of the ball Martinez fouled off his knee on May 31. “That would be a reach,” Wedge said. Maybe it’s a poor season taking its toll on the team leader. Maybe it’s the distraction of dealing with trade rumors for the first time in his career. Maybe he’s a little run down after playing just 73 games last season. Whatever it is, neither the Indians nor Martinez have a clear answer, and the batting average continues to drop.
- I asked Mark Shapiro for some of his impressions after his trip to Columbus last week. He sounded very pleased with Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley, said Trevor Crowe has made some strides, said Hector Rondon looked “fine” and said reliever Frank Herrmann has opened some eyes. As for Rafael Perez and Jensen Lewis, regardless of the solid numbers they’ve posted down there, it doesn’t sound like they’ll be back in Cleveland anytime real soon. Shapiro said Perez looked no different than he did when he was struggling with the Tribe, and Lewis remained inconsistent.
- If you think the Indians’ 2009 season has been a long and winding road, then check out this 18-hole golf course that is soon to open in Australia.