September 2009

Neighbors, do unto neighbors what you do to yourself

By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
http://castrovince.mlblogs.com
http://www.twitter.com/castrovince

Eric Wedge settled into a home tucked away in sleepy Richfield, Ohio, last year to get away from it all.

Now, Shaq’s coming to town.

shaq.jpg“I’m trying to stay under the radar,” Wedge said with a resigned sigh. “That doesn’t help.”

According to a story in Thursday’s Plain Dealer, Shaquille O’Neal has completed his house-hunting in the Cleveland area for the upcoming Cavaliers season and opted for a rented, 7,000-square-foot house in Richfield.

The house reportedly includes an indoor basketball half-court, and the paper cheekily suggested that Shaq and Wedge could play a little one-on-one.

Wedge, probably sizing up the number of curious Cavs fans soon to be driving up and down his street, didn’t exactly sound up to the challenge.

You couldn’t come up with two more disparate personalities. Wedge is a grinder; Shaq’s a rapper. Wedge mixes up his lineups constantly; Shaq does mixed martial arts. Wedge idolizes John Wayne; Shaq… well… if you’ve seen him act, he’s no John Wayne.

How close is Shaq’s house to Wedge’s house?

“It’s close,” Wedge said.

Real close?

“It’s close,” Wedge repeated with another sigh.

There goes the neighborhood.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…

  • Matt LaPorta (left hip inflammation) is still out of the lineup tonight, but he took batting practice again and is feeling better. He’s available off the bench, and all indications are that he’ll be back in the lineup Friday.
  • The Indians made three completely unsurprising housecleaning moves today. Left-handers Zach Jackson, Rich Rundles and R.J. Swindle were outrighted off the 40-man roster and on to the Triple-A Columbus roster. The 40-man now has 36 players, with Anthony Reyes and Jake Westbrook, both of whom are on the 60-day DL, not counting toward that total.
  • Joe Smith (left knee sprain) threw his second bullpen session Thursday and tolerated it well. Wedge said Smith will throw at least one more bullpen before the Indians consider activating him off the disabled list. “We don’t have a timetable [for Smith's return],” Wedge said, “but it would be nice for him to pitch a couple times before the season is over.”
  • What has happened so far, with regard to this 10-game losing streak, is hardly historic. You only have to go back to June 28-July 9, 2008, to find the last time an Indians team lost 10 in a row. The Tribe has lost 10 straight games 10 times in franchise history.
  • But here’s where it starts to get interesting. Tonight, Justin Verlander opposes Carlos Carrasco. Not exactly a matchup that works in the Tribe’s favor. If the Indians lose, it will be the first time they’ve lost 11 straight since a 12-game losing streak in May of 1931. That 12-game streak, by the way, is the longest in team history, so the Indians are dangerously close to record territory.
  • If you’re scoring at home, in the month of September, the Indians have had three team wins and two team meetings. While data from around the league is not available, it appears this is not a strong win-to-meeting ratio.
  • The first of these meetings came Sept. 14 at the Metrodome. The Indians have lost nine straight since that little get-together. They came together for another team meeting before tonight’s series finale against the Tigers. The theme? Get loose. “I wanted them to back off themselves,” Wedge said. “You still have to relax and play to be your best. … You can’t get caught up in the results. You relax and play, and let the results take care of themselves.”
  • Such meetings aren’t commonplace for teams this far out of contention this late in the season. But the Indians have a lot to play for down the stretch – namely, the fate of their manager (whose fate might already be sealed) and coaching staff and the desire to avoid becoming the first Tribe team to lose 100 games since 1991. The Indians must go 2-9 or better down the stretch to do so.
  • This is already the first Tribe team to lose 90 games since 2003. That’s incredible, in and of itself, given that the ’03 club came into its season with absolutely no hope or plan to contend whatsoever.
  • You might remember that the city of Winter Haven, Fla., sued the Indians on Dec. 31, 2008, claiming the Tribe owed the city $107,454 in parking, concession, ticket and advertising revenue from the 2004 and 2004 Spring Training seasons. The [Lakeland, Fla.] Ledger reported that the team and the city have settled out of court, with the Indians forking over $33,500.
  • The evidence (particularly the splits against left-handers) is piling up that maybe Justin Masterson just isn’t cut out for this starting stuff. But relatively speaking, it’s early in the experiment, and the Indians will likely see what improvements Masterson can make with a full Spring Training as a starter. Wedge, for one, believes the experiment is worthwhile. “You need five guys who can give you a quality start and give you a chance to win a ballgame,” Wedge said. “If a guy has a chance to at least be a middle-of-the-rotation guy, we’ve got to explore that.”
  • Victor Martinez has a 22-game hitting streak for the Red Sox, if you need him.
  • Double-A Akron manager Mike Sarbaugh, who joined the big-league coaching staff for the stretch run, said he gave a game ball to hitting coach Lee May Jr. after the Aeros won the Eastern League championship last week. May has been in the game more than 20 years, and this was his first title of any sort. “I thought it was important for the guys to see that,” Sarbaugh said. “And that also reminds them that it’s not easy.”
  • Saturday’s game against the Orioles will be on WKYC Channel 3. Sunday’s game, originally scheduled to air on WKYC, will instead be on STO.

~AC

9/24: Indians vs. Tigers

Tonight’s 7:05 p.m. ET game at Progressive Field is on WTAM and STO. Nationally, it’s on the MLB Network.


cle.gifINDIANS (61-90):
LF Michael Brantley, 2B Jamey Carroll, RF Shin-Soo Choo, DH Travis Hafner, 3B Jhonny Peralta, SS Luis Valbuena, CF Trevor Crowe, 1B Andy Marte, C Wyatt Toregas. RHP Carlos Carrasco (0-2, 9.64).

 

 


det.gifTIGERS (81-70):
CF Curtis Granderson, 2B Placido Polanco, RF Magglio Ordonez, 1B Miguel Cabrera, DH Aubrey Huff, LF Carlos Guillen, 3B Brandon Inge, C Gerald Laird, SS Ramon Santiago. RHP Justin Verlander (16-9, 3.44).

Open to pain and crossed by the rain

By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
http://castrovince.mlblogs.com
http://www.twitter.com/castrovince

When you pay your hard-earned money for a sporting event in support of your favorite baseball team, and your favorite team, say, strands 13 runners in scoring position and gives up four home runs, en route to an 8-0 loss, you might walk out of the ballpark disappointed and, basically, in a surly mood.

I get that.

What I don’t get, and what I have not personally experienced, is walking out of a rock concert in such a mood.

But last night, as a friend and I grabbed a postgame brew on East 4th Street, a horde of angry, embittered Down fans passed by on their way out of the House of Blues.down.jpg

Who or what is Down? Well, it is, of course, everybody’s favorite “sludge metal” group, which rattles off such happy-go-lucky numbers as, “Rehab,” “Pray for the Locust” and “Bury Me in Smoke.”

Having never seen or previously heard of Down (or their equally upbeat opening acts, Weedeater and Evil Army), I can only speculate upon why this band’s fans — 50 percent of whom were shirtless, while the other 50 percent wore T-shirts covered with skulls and crossbones and said things like “Scum of the Earth” on them — leave their shows muttering expletives and yelling at random strangers.

Perhaps Down uses a portion of its show to read everybody’s 401(k) returns aloud, and, in this current economic climate, this little ritual inspires anger in the audience. Or perhaps their song “Beautifully Depressed” just isn’t as gleeful in concert as it is on CD.

Whatever the case, it seems to me that Tribe fans who attended last night’s game at Progressive Field had more to be down about than Down fans. But hey, what do I know?

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…

  • I’m not exaggerating when I say there is next-to-nobody here tonight.
  • Matt LaPorta is out of the lineup with that left hip inflammation. No real word on how long he’s been dealing with it, but obviously it flared up on him while rounding third in the second inning last night. Eric Wedge said he believes the inflammation is a product of moving from the outfield to first base. “You’re using different muscles at first base,” Wedge said. “It’s a lot more squatting and bending.” Wedge said there’s not much that can be done about that, because, “it’s important that he’s able to play over there [at first], moving forward.”
  • Why is that important? Because it’s become abundantly clear that the Indians don’t view Andy Marte as an everyday answer for 2010. Wedge has made his feelings on the matter clear with his lineups and in pinch-hitting for Marte with the bases loaded in the eighth inning last night (and using Jamey Carroll, no less), and general manager Mark Shapiro has indicated to Marte that he’s not guaranteed to be on the 40-man by the start of Spring Training.
  • Marte is back in the lineup tonight, with LaPorta out, but his playing time took a drastic dip on the last road trip. He is 4-for-his-last-38. “I need to play more consistently,” Marte said. “When I’m not playing, I lose everything.”
  • Fausto Carmona is improving. Or, at least, his stats from his last start have improved. The Elias Sports Bureau has changed the A’s five-run second inning on Sunday to three earned runs instead of four. So Carmona’s earned runs allowed in that start go from eight to seven. Much better.
  • Luis Valbuena was back in the lineup last night after a three-game/four-day break. Wedge felt the rookie Valbuena benefited from the late-season time off. “It’s a long road,” Wedge said. “I don’t think many people, himself included, thought he’d have over 300 at-bats up here this season.”
  • Jhonny Peralta gets a break tonight. He certainly seems to need it. Peralta is 2-for-32 and 0-for-25. Wedge said he didn’t want to make excuses for Peralta, but he feels his inconsistent season is partly a product of Peralta making the move from short to third in the middle of the season.
  • Travis Hafner also has a seat aboard the struggle bus. He’s 3-for-30.
  • All six starters will continue to be used down the stretch. The increased time off between starts allows David Huff, in particular, to finish the season without maxing out his innings cap prematurely.
  • The Indians began their second Instructional League in Goodyear yesterday with a 9-1 win over the Rangers. Cord Phelps went 2-for-4 with a triple, and Tim Fedroff and Karexon Sanchez both homered. Kelvin De La Cruz and Rob Bryson combined to pitch the first three scoreless innings. Both of those guys are coming off injuries that cost them the bulk of the ’09 season.
  • No. 15 overall pick Alex White will make his Instructs debut Saturday. White had been building up arm strength while at Double-A Akron the last few weeks after a summer off from throwing.
  • It’s Bruce Springsteen’s 60th birthday today. Happy birthday, Boss. I expect all of you to pay your proper respects. Only 48 days until Bruce and the E Street Band rock the Q. Here’s hoping we all leave happy.

~AC

9/23: Indians vs. Tigers

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

Matt LaPorta is out of the lineup with left hip inflammation. He is still day to day and took BP. More on LaPorta to come in today’s minutiae.cle6.gif

INDIANS (61-89): LF Michael Brantley, 3B Jamey Carroll, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, RF Shin-Soo Choo, DH Travis Hafner, 2B Luis Valbuena, C Lou Marson, CF Trevor Crowe, 1B Andy Marte. RHP Justin Masterson (4-8, 4.49).

 

 


det3.gifTIGERS (80-70):
CF Curtis Granderson, 2B Placido Polanco, RF Clete Thomas, 1B Miguel Cabrera, DH Aubrey Huff, LF Carlos Guillen, 3B Brandon Inge, C Gerald Laird, SS Ramon Santiago. RHP Rick Porcello (13-9, 4.22).

"The bus is out of control!"

By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
http://castrovince.mlblogs.com
http://www.twitter.com/castrovince

It’s the first day of fall, but the Indians have been in a freefall for weeks.

An 0-7 road trip and a 3-16 record in September have left the Tribe a season-high 18 games out of first place and a season-high 27 games under .500. This team is on track to post its worst season since 1991 (57-105) and, incredibly, could lose 100 games for the first time since ’91, as well. That is, if it doesn’t achieve the monumental task of winning two out of its last 13.

The last-place Indians trail the fourth-place Royals by a half-game in the AL Central standings. That would be the same Royals team that was seven games behind the Tribe exactly two weeks ago.

So if you’re reading this, you’re a first-degree die-hard fan who is probably dying a little bit inside with each passing inning.

This note, then, is just to say I certainly appreciate the readership, however masochistic it might be for some of you.

Now, let’s hit the home stretch, shall we?

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…

  • We’ve known Eric Wedge is on shaky ground for months, and, while nothing is confirmed from ownership or the front office, I’d have to imagine what’s transpired this month will serve as the straw that broke the camel’s back. Anyway, here’s the latest on Wedge.
  • Earlier today, Joe Smith threw off the mound for the first time since Aug. 29. The Indians are still hopeful he’ll pitch again before the end of the season. He’ll throw another bullpen session Thursday.
  • Jake Westbrook is also scheduled to throw Thursday. He’s been shut down the past six weeks after a setback in his recovery from Tommy John surgery. He’ll begin a long-toss program that will last three weeks, then head to Goodyear, Ariz., to begin three weeks of mound work. Head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff said Westbrook might pitch in winter ball this offseason.
  • Jason Knapp, meanwhile, is not expected to pitch in winter ball. Soloff said Knapp will likely spend the offseason recuperating from the arthroscopic surgery he had on his shoulder last week, with an eye on throwing again in Spring Training.
  • Double-A Akron manager Mike Sarbaugh, fresh off the Aeros’ run to the Eastern League championship and his own recognition as the league’s Manager of the Year, has joined the Tribe’s coaching staff for the stretch run. Torey Lovullo has left the Tribe for his upcoming wedding in California.
  • Wedge said it’s important to make sure Michael Brantley and Trevor Crowe see time in both center field and left.
  • Have I mentioned there are 13 games left? What would Wedge like to see from this rookie-laden bunch down the stretch? “I want us to play clean baseball,” he said. “We’ve made some young mistakes, and we need to limit that.”
  • This is a big series for the Tigers, whose lead in the Central standings has dwindled down to three games after losing two of three to the Twins over the weekend.
  • Tigers pitching coach Rick Knapp told the Detroit Free Press that there was word of Edwin Jackson tipping his pitches and that the problem has been addressed. Don’t tell that to the Indians, against whom Jackson has gone 3-0 with a 2.74 ERA this season.
  • The Tribe’s 11-game road losing streak is the club’s longest since 1991.
  • The Indians’ organization has been recognized by the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board of Cuyahoga County with the Casey Coleman Recovery Month Award. The Tribe was honored for its commitment to the community through its outreach programs, most notably the new “Fill the House for Charity” initiative that began this season. The Indians also participated today in a nationwide initiative known as “Batter Up! A Home Run for Recovery Month,” which is being held at ballparks all around the country. About 200 people will be at tonight’s game to show their support for recovery. This is the 20th straight year in which September has been designated as National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month.
  • Don’t forget about the Rock ‘N Re-Blast fireworks extravaganza following Friday’s game. 
  • Wedge, Crowe and Chris Gimenez visited Avon Heritage South Elementary this morning to reward the students there for their academic excellence. The Avon school had one of the top three highest point totals and most students enrolled in the KeyBank High Achievers Kids Club. 

~AC

9/22: Indians vs. Tigers

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


cle8.gifINDIANS (61-88):
LF Michael Brantley, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Jhonny Peralta, DH Travis Hafner, 1B Matt LaPorta, 2B Luis Valbuena, C Lou Marson, CF Trevor Crowe. LHP Aaron Laffey (7-6, 4.09).

 

 


det2.gifTIGERS (79-70):
LF Ryan Raburn, 2B Placido Polanco, RF Magglio Ordonez, 1B Miguel Cabrera, DH Marcus Thames, 3B Brandon Inge, CF Curtis Granderson, C Gerald Laird, SS Adam Everett. RHP Edwin Jackson (12-7, 3.37).

9/16: Indians at Twins

It’s farewell to the concrete bubble, as the Indians play their last-ever game at the Metrodome today. The 1:10 p.m. ET game will be broadcast on STO and WTAM.


cle4.gifINDIANS (61-83):
CF Michael Brantley, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Jhonny Peralta, DH Travis Hafner, 1B Matt LaPorta, 2B Luis Valbuena, C Kelly Shoppach, LF Trevor Crowe. LHP Aaron Laffey (7-5, 3.79).

 

 


min3.gifTWINS (73-72):
CF Denard Span, SS Orlando Cabrera, DH Joe Mauer, RF Jason Kubel, 1B Michael Cuddyer, LF Delmon Young, C Jose Morales, 3B Matt Tolbert, 2B Nick Punto. RHP Nick Blackburn (9-11, 4.39).

 

 

UPDATE: Asdrubal Cabrera left today’s game with a right knee contusion after fouling a Matt Guerrier pitch off the knee in the ninth inning. He is listed as day to day and will have an X-ray taken of the knee tomorrow in Oakland. He’s not expected to be in the lineup when the Indians open a four-game set with the A’s.

I won’t be in the lineup, either. Or on the trip, for that matter. The blog will be back up and running next week, when the Tribe returns for its final homestand of ’09. For now, allow me to pay my final respects to the Metrodome, including the unisex bathroom in the press box.

I got dirt on my hands, but I'm building me a new home

By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
http://castrovince.mlblogs.com
http://www.twitter.com/castrovince

Target Field is on-target for an April 12 opening next season, as the Twins move from the Metrodome, their home for the last three decades, to the greener pastures of natural grass and outdoor baseball.target1.jpg

 Kevin Smith, the Twins’ executive director of public affairs, and Mike Herman, the club’s director of media relations, were gracious enough to take the members of the Tribe media horde on a tour of the new ballpark this morning, and it is a beauty.

The 40,000-seat facility is on the opposite end of the Minneapolis downtown area, next to the Target Center (all that $100 furniture you’ve been buying at Target has left the company with plenty of scratch for sporting venue naming rights). Its limestone exterior comes from a local quarry and adds a little Minnesotan flair, as will the walleye sandwiches that will be served in the concessions. And a new light rail stop will take passengers 30 feet from one of the ballpark’s five entrances.

Inside, the swells will sit in the “Champions Club” seats that are right on top of the action behind home plate. They’ll go from $175 to $275 per game, and that includes access to the club, which will house the Twins’ two World Series trophies. When Joe Mauer was recently given a tour of that area, he asked if there will be room to add a new spot for a new trophy. Smith told him, “If you stay, there will.”

On the suite level are dining areas with huge images of Rod Carew and Kirby Puckett on laser-fired pine. Should go nice with the wood-fired pizza.

As for the “regular” seats, some of the best in the house are the left-field bleachers, which will go for about 18 bucks. The short, eight-foot wall in left ensures that those in the bleachers will feel like a fourth outfielder.

In right field, it’s a 23-foot-high wall, on top of which rests another bleacher section that is backed by a standing-room porch area where many a Justin Morneau fly ball will no doubt be deposited.

target2.jpgBut if you ask me, the best place in the ballpark to take in the action might be on the Budweiser Party Deck in left. And it’s way in left, elevated high above the action. A gas fire pit will keep the patrons warm on those harsh April nights.

Speaking of keeping things warm, the field will be kept at an appropriate temperature thanks to coils installed underneath the soil. And the field, by the way, is already in place and looks ready for play. The stadium itself is about 90 percent complete, Smith said.

All in all, the Twins, who have already sold 16,500 season tickets for next season, did this one right. They added some local touches that make it unique to the region, and they pay proper tribute to the team’s history (a flag pole from old Metropolitan Stadium was unearthed and will be installed on the right-field porch). What’s more, they won’t have to share this new home with the Vikings, the Gophers or the annual monster truck rally that comes to the Metrodome (Herman said the fumes from the truck rehearsals trickle into the Twins’ offices and force an evacuation).

The $425 million Target Field looks like a winner to me (and what a bargain, compared with the Yankee Stadium costs). But with the Indians scheduled to visit in the third week of April next season, I’m still holding out hope for the last-minute addition of a retractable roof…

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…

  • How do I know the Indians will be at Target Field the third week of April? Because I’ve read the 2010 schedule, of course. It was released this afternoon.
  • The Indians had no official word on how Jason Knapp’s shoulder surgery went today in New York.
  • If you didn’t already know Kelly Shoppach’s future with this club looks bleak, look to the lineups. Shoppach has started just five of 14 games in September. Lou Marson is getting a great opportunity to show whether he’s ready for this level. “He’s a young kid, and we want to take a good look at him,” Wedge said, “and pick our spots with [Wyatt] Toregas and Shoppach.”
  • Trevor Crowe hit his first Major League homer last night, which is always nice. But he hit it from the left-hand side, which the Indians found encouraging, considering he’s worked his way back from a right oblique strain. “It’s good to have him available from both sides,” Wedge said.
  • It was only one game, of course, but Matt LaPorta looked solid at first base last night, picking an Asdrubal Cabrera throw out of the dirt and ranging to his right to make a nice play. As for where LaPorta, who is back in the outfield tonight, can expect to play next year, as Wedge said, “a lot depends on the supporting cast.” And the guy filling out the lineups, of course.
  • Michael Brantley was caught stealing for the second time in five tries last night. He still has the green light to run on his own, as Wedge is going to allow him to get comfortable running at this level and learn from his mistakes. He was thrown out once with a right-hander on the mound and once with a lefty pitching.
  • Mahoning Valley lost the first game of the New York-Penn League finals against Staten Island last night. Double-A Akron’s Eastern League finals against Connecticut began tonight.
  • The Indians are averaging 5.4 runs per game on the road and 4.6 runs per game at home.

~AC

9/15: Indians at Twins

Tonight’s 8:10 p.m. ET game at the Metrodome will be on WTAM and STO.

cle2.gifINDIANS (61-82): CF Michael Brantley, 2B Jamey Carroll, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, 3B Jhonny Peralta, DH Travis Hafner, 1B Andy Marte, RF Matt LaPorta, C Lou Marson, LF Trevor Crowe. RHP Fausto Carmona (3-10, 6.48).

 

 

min2.gifTWINS (72-72): CF Denard Span, SS Orlando Cabrera, C Joe Mauer, RF Jason Kubel, 1B Michael Cuddyer, LF Delmon Young, DH Brian Buscher, 3B Matt Tolbert, 2B Nick Punto. RHP Scott Baker (13-8, 4.33).

"Oh boy, sleep! That's where I'm a viking!"

By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
http://castrovince.mlblogs.com
http://www.twitter.com/castrovince

My flight to Minneapolis was packed with Vikings fans who were headed home happy after a victory over the Browns (shocker) on Sunday.

I was not as happy, because it appears Brett Favre has not yet met his new teammate, Bernard Berrian (who also, sadly, is the No. 2 wideout on the Marinara Mudslingers, which says a lot about my drafting skills and the woes of competing in a watered-down, 14-team league). The doughnut the pair produced on Sunday has left the ‘Slingers in what appears to be an inescapable hole heading into the Monday night games.

My goal on this trip, then, is to make it to the Vikings’ complex to make sure Favre and Berrian are properly introduced. It couldn’t hurt their chemistry.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…

  • I know Jason Knapp is expected to be fully recovered from his shoulder arthroscopy by Spring Training, but seriously… how bad does that Cliff Lee trade look right now? It was already dubbed by some in July to be the most unpopular trade made by the Tribe since the Rocky Colavito deal, and now, among the four acquisitions, you’ve got two guys hurt and one guy posting a 9.64 ERA in the big leagues. The Indians can only hope this haul has a happy ending after a less-than-auspicious start.
  • Eric Wedge isn’t going down without a fight. He called the team together before tonight’s game for a meeting, which can only be described as rare for an out-of-contention club in September. Wedge’s message was simple: He doesn’t like what he’s seen the past couple weeks (the Indians, in case you lost track, have lost 10 of 13 and 11 of 15), and, with 20 games remaining on the ’09 slate, he wants to see them finish strong. “Every day, you’re getting better or you’re getting worse,” Wedge told reporters after the meeting. “There’s no in-between.”
  • This is the Tribe’s final visit to the Metrodome. Wedge, for one, won’t miss it. When a Minneapolis-based reporter asked him if there are any Metrodome “quirks” he wishes could be taken to the new place, Wedge had nothing to offer. “This place gets loud,” Wedge said. “Twenty thousand [fans] here sounds like 40,000 anywhere else. They’ve had a lot of success here and a lot of success late in games here. You can’t deny that.”
  • The Indians still hope to get Joe Smith back by the end of the year. Lonnie Soloff said the plan is for Smith to begin throwing off a mound by the end of the week.
  • I found this interesting. Branching off the Knapp conversation, Soloff said the Indians subject all of their pitchers taken in the first five rounds of the Draft to an MRI. That way, the club has a picture of what the pitcher’s arm looks like when he is pain-free. Should the pitcher become injured at any point down the road, the Indians have that MRI to serve as a comparison to the pitcher’s current state.
  • Why didn’t Lou Marson catch Carlos Carrasco yesterday? Wedge has made it clear he wants all the young arms to get acclimated to all the young catchers, and he doesn’t feel it benefits the ballclub to get locked into any concrete pairings a la Kelly Shoppach-Cliff Lee. Occasionally, a veteran pitcher will get locked in with a catcher, but Wedge doesn’t want that to be the norm.
  • Kerry Wood has now finished 45 games. He’d have to finish one out of every two games down the stretch for his $11 million vesting option for 2011 to kick in. Wedge said Wood’s role will not change down the stretch. He won’t make it a point to get other, young arms a chance to finish off close games if Wood is available in his usual role.
  • Double-A Akron opens the Eastern League finals in Connecticut at 6:45 p.m. ET Tuesday. It’s a best-of-five series. Josh Tomlin will start Game 1.
  • Short-season Mahoning Valley begins the New York-Penn League finals tonight at Staten Island with right-hander Brett Brach on the hill.
  • Justin Masterson (11th, 3.23 ERA), Aaron Laffey (17th, 3.49) and Jeremy Sowers (20th, 3.62) all rank among the top 20 in the AL in second-half ERAs.

~AC

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