August 2009

"Even Rocky had a montage!"

By Anthony Castrovince/

Mother Nature must have a magnet schedule.

The Indians have had a lot of rain this season, but not a single rainout. This morning, I thought that streak was destined to end, as it was coming down enough to fill those outfield fountains at Kauffman Stadium. Sure enough, the rain held off just in time for the grounds crew to clear the tarp and prep the field, and it now looks like we’re on schedule for the 2:10 p.m. ET first pitch.

The only thing off-schedule today was the arrival of the Tribe’s team bus, which was sideswiped by a vehicle that hydroplaned on Blue Parkway, not far from the ballpark. Eight players and assistant GM John Mirabelli waited for town cars to arrive to take them to Kauffman. No one was hurt, and, unlike in 2004, no one was shot.

If that’s not enough minutiae (plural) for you, here’s the rest.


  • September callups are coming. Who’s coming up? Well, Carlos Carrasco and Lou Marson, for sure. Hector Rondon is a possibility, if the Tribe goes with a six-man rotation in September. Jordan Brown, if he fully recovers from the shoulder injury that recently landed him on the DL, could get a look in left field. Greg Aquino and Jose Veras have been pitching well since their demotion to Triple-A, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Indians give them another look. Jason Donald probably would have been a callup, had he not recently gone on the DL with back spasms.
  • Regarding Brown, who recently returned to the Columbus lineup, the Indians have made the decision to leave him in left field, where he has more of a potential future in this organization.
  • The Indians rank third in the league in strikeouts, with 943. They trail the Rangers (984) and Rays (976). The Rangers might be uncatchable, but after last night’s performance, the Indians are almost within a whiff (pun intended) of second place. Go get ’em, men.
  • Justin Masterson threw 110 pitches against the Angels last week, which seemed odd, considering it was just his third start since converting from relief work. On Tuesday night, Wedge evened things out a bit by pulling Masterson after 98 pitches. Masterson said he’s holding up well physically, and he still felt strong when he was pulled against the Royals. “The Lord’s blessed me with a big old body,” he said proudly.
  • Here’s the worry with Masterson: right-handers are batting just .125 (5-for-40, three walks, 10 strikeouts), but left-handers are hitting .354 (17-for-48, 10 walks, eight strikeouts). Are the Indians concerned? “I think he’s going to be OK,” Wedge said. “That changeup is a good pitch for him. He used it more as [Tuesday’s] game wore on, and it helped him. He’s a smart kid, and he’s very aware of what he’s doing out there. I see a lot of encouraging things with him.”
  • The changeup, remember, is the pitch the Indians wanted Masterson to work on as he transitioned to starting work. He used it more as Tuesday’s game went on, and his outing improved as he did so.
  • In my limited exposure to Masterson so far, he seems like an outstanding guy. But he also has this weird habit of addressing himself as “we.” Last night, for instance, it was, “We fell behind in the count.” Now, he could be talking about himself and the catcher, but he uses it so often that it can be a bit disconcerting. I’m 99.9 percent certain he doesn’t have split personalities and is speaking on both of their behalves, but all the “we” usage accounts has to account for at least a fraction of a percentage point of doubt.
  • Mirabelli talked about some of the recent trade acquisitions. Carrasco, he said, has come a long way from last summer, when Mirabelli felt he didn’t trust his fastball enough. “He’s all business on the mound,” said Mirabelli, who watched Carrasco last week. “His body language and the way he gets after it, I like it.”
  • Mirabelli said Jason Knapp will have to work on his changeup to emerge as a Major League starter. Obviously, Knapp is just a kid, so he has time to tinker with it. The guy that really stands out to Mirabelli at Lake County is Nick Hagadone, who is consistently at 94 mph and can touch 98. “He has a chance to be real special,” Mirabelli said. “He’s going to need some length and some innings [after Tommy John surgery in 2008], but I can see him coming real quick.”
  • Bryan Price, who has struggled some at Class A Kinston, was a reliever at Rice who is trying to make the conversion to starting. If it doesn’t work out (namely, if he doesn’t develop a changeup), the Indians could move him back to relief.
  • Luis Valbuena has an eight-game hitting streak in which he’s batting .367 with three homers and seven RBIs.
  • Former and senior writer Justice B. Hill has launched a blog with commentary about the world of sports. You can check that out here.
  • Before today’s game, the in-house sound system at Kauffman played “Sports Training Montage” from “South Park.” That’s awesome. Much better than the Nickelback we’re saddled with back home.
  • I’m not making the trip to Baltimore, so I’ll catch up with you next week in Motown.


8/26: Indians at Royals

Today’s 2:10 p.m. ET game at Kauffman Stadium will air on WTAM and STO.

It’s a gray, ugly day in KC, and it rained pretty heavily this morning. Not sure what the forecast has in store for the afternoon.cle6.gif

INDIANS (55-70): CF Grady Sizemore, RF Jamey Carroll, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, DH Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Jhonny Peralta, 2B Luis Valbuena, LF Matt LaPorta, 1B Andy Marte, C Chris Gimenez. LHP David Huff (7-7, 6.80).



kc4.gifROYALS (48-77):
LF David DeJesus, RF Willie Bloomquist, 1B Billy Butler, C Miguel Olivo, 3B Mark Teahen, 2B Alberto Callaspo, DH Mike Jacobs, CF Mitch Maier, SS Yuniesky Betancourt. RHP Luke Hochevar (6-6, 5.60).

If I have to walk, I'm gonna get there just the same

By Anthony Castrovince/


Missouri is the “Show-Me” State; Kansas is the “I’ve Seen It” State.


  • This is the first time all season that Travis Hafner has started four games in a row. And it’s a good time for it, considering he’s 9-for-his-last-22 with two homers and seven RBIs. Hafner said he made a mechanical adjustment to his swing in the last week. Wedge said Pronk’s swings last night were “as good as he’s looked all year.” But Hafner will, as you might have guessed, be on the bench Wednesday, as five straight days is probably asking too much of his shoulder.
  • Regarding the decision to rest Grady Sizemore today, despite his strong numbers (11-for-36 with two homers and 11 RBIs) against Zack Greinke, Wedge said he knew he had to give Sizemore either Monday or Tuesday off. The Indians, after all, are right in the middle of a stretch of 13 games in 13 days, and Sizemore’s elbow can’t tolerate that kind of workload. Wedge said he played Sizemore yesterday and started him today because of his starting pitcher, not the opponent’s. Justin Masterson is more of a groundball pitcher than Jeremy Sowers, obviously, so that’s why Wedge made the call.
  • Shin-Soo Choo has only started nine other big league games in center field. The last was July 7, 2006, while he was still with the Mariners. “I played center field my first two years in the Minor Leagues,” Choo said. “It’s not really [more difficult]. But I worry about going to the fence. Grady makes a lot of good plays at the fence, and I can’t do that.”
  • Arizona Fall League rosters were announced today, and outfielder Nick Weglarz, right-handers Connor Graham, Josh Judy and Zach Putnam, first baseman/outfielder Matt McBride and infielders Carlos Rivero and Josh Rodriguez will represent the Tribe on the Peoria Saguaros. The Peoria team will be managed by former Indians player David Bell, and Jim Rincon, the hitting coach at Class A Lake County, will be on Bell’s staff. For more information on the organizational rationale for sending these particular players, ready my story on that should be up shortly.
  • John Mirabelli said Alex White may be added to the AFL roster eventually. If not, Mirabelli said White will pitch in a new Arizona league that will run parallel to the AFL and replace the defunct Hawaiian Winter League. That info is also in the aforementioned article.
  • I must say I’m surprised at all the fuss over Wedge’s comments about Andy Marte in yesterday’s post (scroll down to find them, if you haven’t already seen them). Fact is, Marte has a lot to prove to this organization after 2007 and ’08, and it’s going to take more than a five-game hitting streak to do so. Has anybody noticed that Marte has exactly two extra-base hits since he was called up a month ago? I’m not piling on here; I’m just stating the obvious that maybe the Indians want to see more from his at-bats if they’re going to count on him being a part of their future.
  • RHP Steven Wright is 10-0 with a 2.42 ERA in 32 games, including five starts, for Double-A Akron. He’s allowed just two earned runs over his last 25 1/3 innings pitched since July 12.


8/25: Indians at Royals

Tonight’s 7:05 8:10 p.m. ET game at Kauffman Stadium will be broadcast on STO and WTAM.

Shin-Soo Choo makes first start in CF since July 7, 2006, when he was still with the Mariners.cle7.gif UPDATE: Wedge and Sizemore both say it’s a normal day off for Grady.

INDIANS (55-69): SS Asdrubal Cabrera, RF Jamey Carroll, CF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Jhonny Peralta, DH Travis Hafner, 2B Luis Valbuena, C Kelly Shoppach, LF Matt LaPorta, 1B Andy Marte. RHP Justin Masterson (4-4, 4.36).



kc3.gifROYALS (47-77):
LF David DeJesus, RF Mitch Maier, 1B Billy Butler, DH Mike Jacobs, 2B Alberto Callaspo, 3B Mark Teahen, C Miguel Olivo, CF Josh Anderson, SS Yuniesky Betancourt. RHP Zack Greinke (11-8, 2.44).

I'm gonna have to go to college, 'cause you are the book of knowledge

By Anthony Castrovince/

I’m going to do something today that has been building for a long time. I’m spelling “minutiae” with the “e” at the end.

Those of you who have been faithful to this blog over the last couple years know that it’s been “minutia” all along. And though I am usually a stickler for spelling and grammar (except when I mispell the word misspell), there is something about “minutia” that simply looks more visually, if not grammatically, correct than “minutiae.” Even as I type “minutiae” now, I feel a little knot in my stomach.

A year or so ago, when it was pointed out to me that I was inaccurately using the singular “minutia” instead of the plural “minutiae,” I opened this up for debate and asked my readers which one I should use: the correct spelling, or the one that had become CastroTurf tradition.

One of you wrote in with the following response:

“It’s a bit like the word ‘data,’ which was originally the plural of ‘datum.’ Pedants will still insist that a sentence such as, ‘The data shows…’ is grammatically incorrect, but for me, since no one ever uses ‘datum’ any more (they’ll say ‘a data point’ or some such), we may as well treat ‘data’ as grammatically singular, in the way that ‘rice’ is singular (though it has many grains). I can’t think of a time when I’ve heard or read the phrase ‘a minutia’ — much more likely ‘a bit of minutia.’ If people never use the singular (and so we don’t need a distinction), may as well let the simpler spelling (‘minutia’) be the aggregate term.”

That sounded good enough to me, and so I stuck with “minutia.”

But it didn’t end there. It never does. I can’t begin to tell you how many e-mails I’ve gotten since that politely inform me I’m using the wrong form of the word. And after reader Jill E. wrote in yesterday asking me to use the plural form “for the love of all that is holy,” I can’t, in good Catholic conscience, keep this up anymore.

So, from this point forward, unless I’m convinced otherwise or I mistakenly write the singular out of habit, it’s “minutiae.”

And there’s that knot again.


  • Scott Lewis has landed on the disabled list. Again. Only this time, he’s on the Triple-A Columbus DL, rather than the Major League DL. According to head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff, Lewis is dealing with an injury to his lateral arm, above the left elbow. Soloff does not believe this injury is related to the injury Lewis suffered to his forearm, near the elbow, earlier this season. Lewis, activated off the DL and optioned to Columbus last week, made just one start for the Clippers.
  • IF Jason Donald, mentioned in this space yesterday, is also on the Columbus DL. He has a strained lower back. Donald had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee earlier this year, before he was acquired in the Cliff Lee trade.
  • Speaking of Lee, he tossed seven innings without giving up an earned run in a win over the Mets today. He’s now 5-0 with a 0.68 ERA for the Phillies, with two complete games along the way.
  • Matt LaPorta remains entrenched in left field, but he’s still getting regular work at first during pregame. “We want to get him some more work over there,” Eric Wedge said. “We’ll give him some more reps before we throw him out there.”
  • Andy Marte had a nice homestand, as he’s 6-for-his last-14 with five RBIs in four games. Wedge didn’t sound overly impressed with this. “He still needs to hit pitches he should hit,” Wedge said of Marte. “If you get a hanging breaking ball, you have to make sure you hit it. If you get a good fastball, don’t foul it off. Good pitches get young hitters out, so you’ve got to keep working to not miss mistakes.”
  • Grady Sizemore is once again the Indians’ nominee for the MLB Players’ Association’s Heart and Hustle Award, which he won last year.
  • Sizemore has raised his average from .227 to .247 over his last 23 games. He also has a 119-game errorless streak in center field.
  • The Indians have collected 10 or more hits in six of their last eight games.
  • Chris Perez’s 15 1/3-inning scoreless streak is the longest by a Tribe reliever since Rafael Betancourt tossed 19 straight scoreless in 2007.
  • Luis Valbuena has a six-game hitting streak in which he’s hit .391 (9-for-23) with two homers and four RBIs.
  • The Tribe earned its 15th series win of the season with the win over the Mariners. The Indians have now won seven of 11 series since the All-Star break, including five of seven. In the first half of the season, they were 8-18-3 in series play. The Tribe enters this week having won four straight series against the AL Central.
  • LHP Nick Hagadone, one of the acquisitions in the Victor Martinez trade, was named the South Atlantic League pitcher of the week after tossing six scoreless innings over two starts in which he allowed just a hit and a walk with 10 strikeouts. Hagadone has a 2.31 ERA in four starts for the Captains.
  • LHP Scott Barnes, the Ryan Garko trade acquisition, is struggling at Double-A Akron. He’s allowed 13 runs on 16 hits in 15 1/3 innings over three starts after posting a 2.13 ERA in three starts with Kinston.
  • CF Michael Brantley battled a sprained ankle, but he’s back in the Columbus lineup.
  • C Carlos Santana is batting .313 (20-for-64) with five doubles, a triple a homer and 10 RBIs in August.
  • LHP Kelvin De La Cruz is active with the Indians’ rookie-level Arizona League team. He went three innings, allowing two runs on four hits with a strikeout in a loss to the Mariners. De La Cruz is one of the more promising arms in the system, but he’s missed most of this season with a left elbow strain.
  • This is my first trip to KC this year, and therefore my first look at the completed Kauffman Stadium renovations. Really, really impressive. My only gripe is the addition of seats and a “Pepsi Party Porch” in front of the fountains beyond the outfield wall. Leave the fountains alone.


8/24: Indians at Royals

Tonight’s 8:10 p.m. ET game at Kauffman Stadium will be broadcast on WTAM and STO.

cle.gifINDIANS (54-69):
CF Grady Sizemore, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Jhonny Peralta, DH Travis Hafner, 2B Luis Valbuena, C Kelly Shoppach, LF Matt LaPorta, 1B Andy Marte. LHP Jeremy Sowers (4-9, 4.82).



kc.gifROYALS (47-76):
LF David DeJesus, RF Willie Bloomquist, 1B Billy Butler, DH Brayan Pena, 2B Alberto Callaspo, 3B Mark Teahen, C John Buck, CF Mitch Maier, SS Yuniesky Betancourt. RHP Gil Meche (6-9, 4.73).

Every picture tells a story, don't it?

By Anthony Castrovince/

Lining the hallway from the Indians’ clubhouse to the field are photos of old Tribe greats and some of the great celebratory moments in team history. One of the more recent shots, for example, is the one of Rafael Betancourt and Victor Martinez embracing after the last out of the division championship clincher in 2007.

Directly outside the clubhouse is a photo from Sept. 16 of last year, when Martinez hit a walkoff homer against the Twins. The shot shows Martinez’s teammates at the plate, ready to pounce on him when he touches home. It’s funny to look at that photo now and know how many of those players are long gone.

Luis Valbuena gave the Tribe a new memory to hang on the wall when he hit that walkoff blast against the Mariners last night, and Katie Brinager of the Indians snapped the excellent photo below to capture the moment just before Valbuena crossed the plate. (The running gag in the clubhouse is that the players don’t care about the win; they just want to get to the plate to be in the picture.)

DANM5864.jpgThis is a great photo for a lot of reasons, and one of them is that it opens the door to the old Sesame Street game of “One of These Things is Not Like the Other.” While everybody else in the photo looks excited, Jeremy Sowers looks like he’s upset that Valbuena’s home run pulled him away from whatever book he’s currently reading.


  • You should definitely read this column by the Akron Beacon Journal’s Patrick McManamon.
  • Excellent outing from Fausto Carmona (7 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 8 K) today, as he earned his first big-league victory since May 14. And the Indians got an RBI each from Valbuena, Matt LaPorta, Wyatt Toregas and Andy Marte in the Nos. 6-9 spots of the order.
  • The ghost of Kenny Lofton was present after the win, as “This Is How We Do It” blared from the clubhouse speakers.
  • Some notes about last night’s hero, Valbuena. The Indians have clearly gotten a lot of things wrong this season, but Eric Wedge’s decision to stick with Valbuena, even as the rookie was laboring at the plate early on after his promotion from Columbus, was a good move. Wedge felt Valbuena was putting up good at-bats and didn’t look overmatched at the plate, and he said that would eventually translate.
  • The early numbers, however, were ugly. After getting called up on May 2, Valbuena entered July with a .195 average and .629 OPS. Interestingly, though, 15 of his 26 hits had gone for extra bases.
  • Valbuena’s approach began to translate into more tangible success in July. From July 1 through Saturday, Valbuena hit .303 with an .851 OPS. And all along the way, he’s been a strong defender. He even looked polished at shortstop when Asdrubal Cabrera was on the DL in June.
  • Valbuena’s blast was the first walkoff homer of the season for the Tribe. Martinez’s aforementioned shot had been the most recent.
  • According to Elias Sports Bureau, Valbuena became the first Indians rookie in more than 41 years to hit a walkoff home run in the 11th inning or later. Jose Vidal did it in the 14th inning on June 3, 1968.
  • Valbuena is the eighth rookie in the Majors to hit a walkoff homer this year, but only the second in the American League. The first was the Orioles’ Nolan Reimold.
  • The Indians are taking the same precautions with Valbuena that they once took with Shin-Soo Choo, in that he’s barely getting a whiff of action against left-handed pitching. He has just 24 plate appearances against them.
  • I guess that’s where Jason Donald, one of the acquisitions in the Cliff Lee trade, comes into the picture next year. The right-handed Donald, who is batting .257 (9-for-35) in 10 games with Columbus, could potentially take over the Jamey Carroll role, spelling Valbuena on days a lefty is on the mound.
  • It still seems rather curious that an infielder putting up less-than-stellar numbers in Triple-A made up 25 percent of the returns in a trade that sent the reigning Cy Young winner to Philadelphia. But you can’t judge a trade like that a month after it takes place.
  • When it comes to trade acquisitions, the hard-throwing Chris Perez looks like a winner. He has not allowed a run over his last 15 appearances, covering 15 1/3 innings in which he’s allowed just five hits with four walks and 19 strikeouts. Batters are hitting just .104 (5-for-48) off him in this stretch. It’s the longest scoreless innings pitched stretch by a Tribe pitcher this year and the most consecutive scoreless appearances by an Indians reliever.
  • The Indians will honor all first responders (police, fire, EMS, physicians, nurses and military) at the Friday, Sept. 11 game against the Royals. All first responders, their friends and family members will receive a special ticket discount in the upper box ($12), bleachers ($10) and upper reserved ($8) sections.
  • Kerry Wood is chartering a private jet to take some of his teammates to tonight’s Pearl Jam concert in Chicago. And why not? He is, after all, buddies with Ed Vedder. Pretty nice life, huh?


8/23: Indians vs. Mariners

Today’s 1:05 p.m. ET game at Progressive Field will be broadcast on WTAM and STO.

cle3.gifINDIANS (53-69):
CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Jamey Carroll, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Jhonny Peralta, DH Travis Hafner, SS Luis Valbuena, LF Matt LaPorta, C Wyatt Toregas, 1B Andy Marte. RHP Fausto Carmona (2-8, 6.31).



sea2.gifMARINERS (63-60):
RF Ichiro Suzuki, 1B Russell Branyan, 2B Jose Lopez, DH Ken Griffey Jr., CF Franklin Gutierrez, 3B Jack Hannahan, SS Josh Wilson, LF Ryan Langerhans, C Rob Johnson. RHP Felix Hernandez (12-4, 2.66).

"Hey, salad's got nothin' on this mutton."

By Anthony Castrovince/

I just received word that they’re serving steak in the press dining room tonight.

This is a rare treat. Either the Progressive Field cooks are spoiling us media types, or there was a terrible accident at Thistledown earlier today.


  • Eric Wedge on Kerry Wood: “He’s been much more consistent lately. I’ve felt his breaking ball has been more usable for him. It’s a great pitch when he can command it.”
  • Wood has had just 20 save opportunities this season. That puts him in a tie for 12th among AL closers in save opps. While Wood has been nowhere near the shutdown ninth-inning arm the Indians hoped for when they signed him, his is a difficult season to judge because the save opportunities have been so erratic. But it is clear that he was struggling to get his breaking ball over earlier in the year, and that certainly limited his effectiveness. Whatever the case, he hasn’t been worth $10 million, that’s for sure.
  • One last note on Wood: He’s finished 39 games this season, so he’s not exactly on pace to reach that vesting point for his 2011 option. That option only vests if he finishes 55 games either this season or next.
  • Asdrubal Cabrera is batting .303 right-handed after entering this season with a .239 career average against lefties. His career mark has been raised to .272.
  • It’s already well-documented that David Huff will likely make way for another starter (presumably, Carlos Carrasco) at some point in September. Wedge said it’s also a “possibility” that the club could use a sixth starter at some point in the month. If that’s the case, one would assume Hector Rondon would get a look.
  • Speaking of Carrasco, he took the loss for Triple-A Columbus last night after giving up four runs (three earned) on five hits with a walk and six strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings against Toledo. Carrasco is now 10-10 with a 4.80 ERA on the year.
  • Regarding Tony Sipp, earlier this year the Indians had several restrictions on him because of his Tommy John history. Wedge wasn’t supposed to use him on consecutive days, and he wasn’t supposed to warm him up without using him. Wedge said those restrictions have since been lifted, as Sipp has tolerated his workload well this season.
  • Kelly Shoppach struck out a couple times last night, and that’s been known to happen. What’s also been known to happen is Shoppach getting frustrated by a strikeout and snapping his bat over his thigh. He did it again last night. Wedge said he doesn’t have a problem with such displays. “I don’t care, as long as nobody gets hurt,” Wedge said. “But I know one thing: If you go that route, you better do it [all the way], because if you don’t, you’re leaving yourself wide open.”
  • Connor Graham was solid for Double-A Akron last night. He tossed seven innings at Erie in which he allowed just a run on five hits with no walks and six strikeouts to earn his first win as a member of the Indians’ organization. Graham is now 1-2 with a 4.07 ERA since being acquired in the Rafael Betancourt trade with the Rockies.
  • Jason Knapp made his third start for Class A Lake County last night and allowed two runs (one earned) on one hit with three walks and three strikeouts in four innings for a no-decision against Delmarva.
  • Someone responded to my last post by asking if a Bruce Springsteen concert has ever left me disappointed. The question itself reveals that the person who asked it has never seen Bruce Springsteen in concert. But I can safely say this will be the most special E Street Band show in Cleveland since 1999. On the Rising tour in 2002 and the Magic tour in 2007, the band was in the first leg of a tour, which is traditionally a time to focus on the new album. This tour is loose, fun and random, and it will be in its final stage when the band hits the Q on Nov. 10. Anything can happen and probably will.


8/22: Indians vs. Mariners

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

cle4.gifINDIANS (52-69):
CF Grady Sizemore, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Jhonny Peralta, DH Travis Hafner, 2B Luis Valbuena, C Kelly Shoppach, LF Matt LaPorta, 1B Andy Marte. LHP Aaron Laffey (7-3, 3.38).



sea4.gifMARINERS (63-59):
RF Ichiro Suzuki, CF Franklin Gutierrez, 2B Jose Lopez, DH Mike Sweeney, 1B Russell Branyan, 3B Bill Hall, C Kenji Johjima, SS Josh Wilson, LF Michael Saunders. RHP Doug Fister (1-0, 1.93).