September 2009

9/9: Indians vs. Rangers

Today’s 12:05 p.m. ET game at Progressive Field will be broadcast on WTAM and STO.cle7.gif

INDIANS (60-78): 2B Jamey Carroll, SS Luis Valbuena, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Jhonny Peralta, DH Travis Hafner, LF Matt LaPorta, C Kelly Shoppach, 1B Niuman Romero, CF Trevor Crowe. RHP Fausto Carmona (3-9, 6.08):



tex3.gifRANGERS (78-60): LF Julio Borbon, SS Elvis Andrus, 2B Ian Kinsler, CF Marlon Byrd, RF Nelson Cruz, DH David Murphy, C Ivan Rodriguez, 1B Chris Davis, 3B Esteban German. RHP Scott Feldman (15-4, 3.62).

9/8: Indians vs. Rangers, Game 2

Game 2 starts at 8:35 p.m. ET. Still on STO and WTAM.

cle8.gifINDIANS (60-77): CF Michael Brantley, 3B Jamey Carroll, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, RF Shin-Soo Choo, DH Jhonny Peralta, 2B Luis Valbuena, LF Matt LaPorta, 1B Chris Gimenez, C Kelly Shoppach. LHP Aaron Laffey.



tex2.gifRANGERS (77-60): 2B Ian Kinsler, SS Elvis Andrus, CF Marlon Byrd, DH Andruw Jones, RF Nelson Cruz, LF David Murphy, C Taylor Teagarden, 1B Chris Davis, 3B Esteban German. RHP Brandon McCarthy.

"You dipped a chip, you took a bite… and you dipped again."

By Anthony Castrovince/ 2_61_turtle_two_heads.jpg

It’s a doubleheader tonight, but it’s a single serving of minutiae.

Kind of a ripoff, if you ask me.


  • Joe Smith is hurt again. Smith, as you might have noticed, hasn’t pitched since Aug. 29, because he injured his left knee. He’s not exactly sure how he did it, but his best guess was that the injury occurred when he missed a step while walking down the stairs at home on the off day on Aug. 31. Smith tore his posterior cruciate ligament in the knee in 2005, and this injury might be related. He played catch today, hopes to do so again tomorrow and hopes to be ready to throw off a mound by the weekend. Smith has already battled a viral infection, a strained tendon in his right index finger and a strained rotator cuff this season. “It’s been a great year,” he said sarcastically.
  • Why Niuman Romero? Well, the Indians had planned to call up Jason Donald, but Donald suffered lower back injury in August and was not deemed ready to help out at this level. Eric Wedge wanted somebody to take some of the load off Asdrubal Cabrera, Luis Valbuena and Jamey Carroll up the middle, so the switch-hitting Romero, who can play all four infield spots, fits the bill.
  • Why did Jordan Brown get the shaft? Good question. Wedge said the reason was that there simply aren’t enough at-bats available to him. But Brown’s defense is what hurt him most. He’s still considered a bit of a liability in left field and at first base, so his International League batting title was considered moot.
  • Still, it seems certain that Brown will be taken in the Rule 5 Draft if the Indians don’t protect him this winter. I’m surprised they didn’t add him for September to at least try to showcase him, if they don’t feel he’s in their future plans. And clearly, he’s not.
  • Indians media relations director Bart Swain points out that Grady Sizemore’s stats after his June 23 activation from the DL were virtually identical to his numbers from 2007 and 2008. From June 23 to Sept. 3, Sizemore batted .270 with a .373 on-base percentage, .470 slugging percentage and an .843 OPS. In ’08, it was .268/.374/.502/.876. In ’07, it was .277/.390/.462/.852.
  • Bart’s point, in case you can’t tell, is that the elbow problem, once addressed with a few weeks of rest and rehab, did not affect Sizemore’s day-to-day performance and perhaps did not need the immediate surgical intervention that people have suggested would have been more appropriate than allowing Grady to play. You can take that for whatever it’s worth to you personally.
  • Columbus manager Torey Lovullo said Yohan Pino, the player to be named from the Carl Pavano trade, looked impressive. He has a four-pitch mix, so he profiles as a starter. At the time of that trade, it wasn’t expected that the prospect acquired would be of much impact, but Pino has the potential to surprise some people next year. We’ll see. For now, the Indians simply don’t have a need for another starter. So Pino and Hector Rondon are headed home.
  • Speaking of Rondon, he got the start in the Clippers’ season finale Monday, and he gave up three runs on eight hits with no walks and five strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings. He finished with a 4-5 record and 4.00 ERA in 12 starts at the Triple-A level. Next stop is a Spring Training competition for a rotation spot, but Rondon will have to develop his secondary pitches more if he’s going to claim a spot.
  • The Clippers finished 57-85, 27 games back in the West Division of the International League. Not an auspicious beginning to their Tribe affiliation, though they did set a franchise attendance record in the first season at Huntington Park.
  • Double-A Akron opens the postseason with a best-of-five series against Reading. Game 1 is at 7 p.m. ET Wednesday at Canal Park. Right-hander Josh Tomlin (14-9, 4.16) will get the starting nod.
  • Short-season Mahoning Valley is also entering postseason play. The Scrappers, led by manager Travis Fryman, posted a franchise-record 49 wins this season and have clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. They play at Brooklyn tonight, with left-hander Vidal Nuno (5-0, 2.05 ERA) on the mound.
  • Class A Kinston wrapped up its season Monday with a loss to Potomac. Right-hander Nick Hagadone going three innings and giving up a run on three hits for a no-decision. Hagadone, acquired in the Victor Martinez trade, had Tommy John surgery last year and is already throwing in the upper 90s. He could be a name to watch as the 2010 season progresses.
  • The Indians have extended their player development contract with Class A Lake County through 2014. The Captains will move from the South Atlantic League to the Midwest League in 2010.


UPDATE (5:05 p.m. ET): As of first pitch, there might be 350 people in the ballpark. Maybe.

UPDATE No. 2: Jason Stein, the Master of Self-Promotion, points out that if all goes to plan, Wednesday’s 12:05 p.m. ET start time will be the fifth different start time in five games for the Tribe. 

9/8: Indians vs. Rangers, Game 1

Let’s play two.


It’s 2:50 p.m. ET, and the tarp was brought back on the field a few minutes ago. The sun is out, but perhaps the grounds crew knows something is coming. If the 5:05 p.m. ET start time is in jeopardy, I’ll let you know.

Both of today’s games will be on STO and WTAM. You’ll find these lineups look pretty familiar.

UPDATE (4:05 p.m. ET): The tarp was just pulled. It appears we’ll be good to go for the scheduled start time.

cle.gifINDIANS (60-76):
CF Michael Brantley, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Jhonny Peralta, DH Travis Hafner, 2B Luis Valbuena, LF Matt LaPorta, 1B Andy Marte, C Lou Marson. RHP Carlos Carrasco (0-1, 18.00).



tex.gifRANGERS (76-60):
LF Julio Boron, SS Elvis Andrus, 2B Ian Kinsler, CF Marlon Byrd, RF Nelson Cruz, DH David Murphy, C Ivan Rodriguez, 1B Chris Davis, 3B Omar Vizquel. RHP Tommy Hunter (7-3, 3.14).

Hello, Niuman!

The Indians made their last September callup Tuesday, and it’s a surprising one.

The Tribe purchased the contract of infielder Niuman Romero from Triple-A Columbus, presumably to provide added depth up the middle.

The switch-hitting Romero, 24, hit a combined .240 with 14 doubles, a triple, a homer, 35 RBIs and 47 runs scored in 115 games at Double-A Akron and Columbus.

Romero saw time at all four infield spots with the Clippers, including 58 games at short, eight at third, eight at second and seven at first.

Also, in an annual rite of September, Clippers manager Torey Lovullo will come up to join the coaching staff for the stretch run.

Meanwhile, Jordan Brown won the International League batting title with a .336 average, and he’s going home. Figure that one out.

The active roster is now at 32 and the 40-man is now at 39.

Tribe-Rangers rained out

Tonight’s game has been called on account of rain. It will be made up as part of a traditional twi-night doubleheader Tuesday, beginning at 5 p.m. ET.

The Indians’ probable pitchers remain the same. Carlos Carrasco will start the first game, and Aaron Laffey will start the nightcap.

"Rest assured I was on the Internet within minutes, registering my disgust throughout the world."

By Anthony Castrovince/

It seems I’ve struck a nerve with the rabid (and, in the unfortunate case of a couple of the comments below, surprisingly crass) Wonder Girls fan base.

Effeminate high school boys are picketing outside the press box, and my approval rating among prepubescent South Koreans has never been lower.

To the Wonder Girls community, I humbly beg for forgiveness. And to the CastroTurf community, I happily report that the Wonder Girls, more often than not, do not resort to lip synching to pull off their dazzling dance moves. While they certainly did appear to be lip synching during their brief display on the Progressive Field Party Deck during Sunday’s game, it didn’t affect the integrity of the performance nearly as much as the ballpark sound system cutting out and leaving the 17,911 in attendance with about a minute and a half of the sounds of silence.

My respect and esteem for the Wonder Girls has grown by leaps and bounds, now that I’ve gotten a taste of what a fervent following they command. And I will keep the good vibes going by pledging to never use this space to erroneously report that the Jonas Brothers don’t write their own songs and Miley Cyrus does not do her own choreography.

With that out of the way, let’s return to real life… or at least our own warped version of it.


  • Grady Sizemore’s elbow surgery is confirmed for Wednesday at the Cleveland Clinic. Team medical director Dr. Mark Schickendantz will perform the arthroscopic procedure.
  • Lou Marson is here, and this final month of the season will be an important time for him to not only prove he’s capable at this level but also to learn the Tribe’s pitching staff inside and out. “To be honest with you, it’s going to take a while to learn not only their names but what they throw,” Marson said. “It’s not one of those things that happens overnight.”
  • Eric Wedge said Marson won’t play every day (which is obvious, considering the Indians are now carrying four catchers). But Marson will obviously get a firm look, considering the Tribe’s 2010 catching outlook and the fact that Marson has a chance to be the regular starter next season.
  • The Indians felt it was important to get Marson up here today, even though Columbus has one game left, because they wanted to pair him with Carrasco. They think that pairing will benefit both pitcher and catcher. “I’ve been catching him since 2004 in the Gulf Coast League,” Marson said of Carrasco. “I’m tougher on him than I am on some of the other guys.”
  • I must be getting older, because Marson looks really young to me.
  • Wedge said the Indians will call up one more player after Columbus’ game tonight.
  • Regarding a CastroTurf Commenter’s question about Kerry Wood’s vesting option status, Wood has finished 44 games this season, with 26 to play. He needs to reach 55 for his $11 million option for 2011 to vest. It’s starting to get interesting.
  • Matt LaPorta, as you’ve no doubt noticed, has not seen any time at first base in the games. But he continues to do pregame work at the position with infield coach Luis Rivera, and the reports have been positive.  “Luis feels good about his progress over there,” Wedge said. Wedge said it’s important that LaPorta get comfortable at first, in case the Indians need him at that spot next season. He also said there’s still a chance LaPorta will see time at first before this season is over.
  • It will be interesting to see Omar Vizquel at third base tonight. He’s been filling in for an injured Michael Young.’s Rangers scribe, T.R. Sullivan, is already calling Omar the best defensive third baseman in Rangers’ history. And this comes after he dubbed him the best defensive second baseman in Rangers’ history earlier this year.
  • According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Michael Brantley is just the second Indians player in the last 50 years to hit safely in his first six games in the big leagues. The only other was Josh Bard, who hit in nine straight games to open his career in 2002.
  • David Huff is now tied with Carl Pavano for the team lead in wins, with nine. That is really sad.
  • But how about Yohan Pino, the player to be named from the Pavano trade with the Twins? He won his second start for Columbus on Sunday, working seven scoreless innings in which he allowed just five hits with two walks and six strikeouts. He is now a combined 4-2 with a 2.49 ERA in 10 starts between Columbus and Triple-A Rochester this year.


9/7: Indians vs. Rangers

A Happy Labor Day to one and all. The tarp is on the field, but no word yet on whether the weather will affect the current 6:05 p.m. ET start time to tonight’s tilt at Progressive Field. Weather-permitting, you can catch the action on WTAM and STO.

UPDATE: As of 5:10 p.m. ET, it’s coming down pretty hard. Looking less and less likely tonight’s game will start on time.

UPDATE No. 2 (7:35 p.m. ET): It’s still raining, and the Indians are still hoping to get this one in. I had heard speculation that we might be looking at a start time around 8:30 or so, if the rain cooperates. Stay tuned.

cle.gifINDIANS (60-76): CF Michael Brantley, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Jhonny Peralta, DH Travis Hafner, 2B Luis Valbuena, LF Matt LaPorta, 1B Andy Marte, C Lou Marson. RHP Carlos Carrasco (0-1, 18.00).

tex.gifRANGERS (76-60): LF Julio Borbon, SS Elvis Andrus, 2B Ian Kinsler, CF Marlon Byrd, RF Nelson Cruz, DH David Murphy, C Ivan Rodriguez, 1B Chris Davis, 3B Omar Vizquel. RHP Tommy Hunter (7-3, 3.14).

Marson promoted from Columbus

For the Indians on Monday night, it will be one acquisition in the Cliff Lee trade doing the pitching and another doing the catching.

Catcher Lou Marson was promoted from Triple-A Columbus and is in the starting lineup for the Tribe’s series opener against the Rangers. Marson, who was set to catch fellow former Phillie Carlos Carrasco, is the fifth player called up from Columbus in September.

The 23-year-old Marson has spent most of the ’09 season at the Triple-A level with Lehigh Valley in the Phillies’ organization and with Columbus. He batted a combined .277 with 18 doubles, two homers and 33 RBIs in 91 games. Known as a contact hitter and not a power guy, he had a .361 on-base percentage. He appeared in seven games with the Phillies earlier this season, going 4-for-17.

Nobody, nobody but Choo

By Anthony Castrovince/

It was South Korea’s answer to Babe Ruth meeting South Korea’s answer to the Spice Girls.

This was, by Korean standards, a major meeting that took place in front of the Indians’ dugout Sunday morning at Progressive Field, when Shin-Soo Choo met the Wonder Girls, the girl group whose smash hit single, “Nobody,” sounds suspiciously like an homage to the Tribe’s right fielder (“I want nobody, nobody but Choo!”)

Here in the States, Choo is still an up-and-coming outfielder proving himself in his first full Major League season. And the Wonder Girls are opening acts for the Jonas Brothers on their world tour, which recently stopped next door at the Quicken Loans Arena.

But in Korea, Choo and the Wonder Girls are sensations.

“What just happened here,” said Tribe bullpen catcher Dave Wallace, “is going to be on the front page of every paper and in all the magazines in Korea.”

HQ1F7462.jpgIt was Wallace who bailed Choo out when the Wonder Girls asked Choo to dance with them for some publicity photos (credit for this one goes to Dan Mendlik of the Indians).

“I’m not a good dancer,” Choo said.

So in stepped Wallace to show Choo the “Nobody” dance.

“That was the highlight of my year,” Wallace joked.

A red-eyed Choo was battling jet lag after returning to Cleveland late Saturday from a quick trip to his home near Phoenix for the birth of his second son, Aiden. So he probably wasn’t in much of a dancing mood.

But Choo, who was in Sunday’s starting lineup, seemed relieved after meeting the Wonder Girls, who gave him a hat, a T-shirt and a CD.

“I was nervous,” Choo admitted. “Playing the game will be easier [by comparison].”

Choo will play his game and the Wonder Girls will sing their songs (they were set to perform at the Taste of Cleveland later Sunday) with pride in their native land.

“They told me, ‘Don’t give up, show everybody we are Korean,'” Choo said. “When I play good, everybody sees and says, ‘Where is he from?’ And when they sing, everybody sees and says, ‘Where are they from?’ We’re from Korea.”


  • The CastroTurf Commenters (who are nearly as popular in Korea as the Wonder Girls) seem, by and large, to fall in line with those who believe Grady Sizemore should have been shut down sooner. And I certainly think the concern that a guy playing through those injuries could be opening himself up to further damage or a longer rehab by playing every day is a valid one.
  • But I also think that this issue wouldn’t be getting nearly as much attention if Sizemore wasn’t the one involved. Kelly Shoppach, for instance, played last season with a bum knee that required arthroscopic surgery at season’s end, and no one paid it any mind. Of more precise comparison is Travis Hafner’s elbow issue that hampered him throughout the 2004 season. Pronk had surgery at season’s end to remove bone spurs and loose bodies from the elbow joint. He recovered in plenty of time to post one of his finest seasons in 2005.
  • My point is that players gut it out through pain all the time — often unbeknownst to us — and perhaps a professional team of doctors and trainers has a better feel for this kind of thing than the rest of us do.
  • If anything, fans’ concerns should be pointed toward Sizemore, who waited more than two months to tell the training staff he was dealing with the elbow issue.
  • CF Michael Brantley is off to a nice start — a five-game hitting streak to open his Major League career. He’s batting .368 (7-for-19) with an RBIs, two runs and a steal.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, Chris Gimenez, who gets a rare start behind the plate today, is 2-for-39 and 1-for-23. Also of note: Hafner is 2-for-17 with a homer, Matt LaPorta is 2-for-20, Andy Marte is 1-for-16 with a homer and Luis Valbuena is 2-for-19.
  • Joe Mauer has hit safely in all 11 games against the Indians this year. He’s batting .512 (22-for-43) with three doubles, four homers, 12 RBIs and eight runs scored. If you go back to last year, he has a 14-game hitting streak against the Tribe.
  • Jason Kubel also kills this team. He is batting .404 (19-for-47) with six walks, four doubles, six homers, 15 RBIs and nine runs scored against the Tribe.
  • The two things I’ve heard most in and around the ballpark the last few hours are: “Did you hear the Wonder Girls are here?” and “Who are the Wonder Girls?”
  • Finally, it needs to be said: I love that Shin-Soo and Woon Mi Choo have named their sons Alan and Aiden. They must be embracing their Gaelic side. Aiden, for the record, was born at 12:38 p.m. Saturday and weighed in at 8 pounds, 3 ounces.


UPDATE: I don’t mean to burst anyone’s bubble, but not only do the Wonder Girls lip synch, but they use not one, but two fake microphones. They wear the McDonald’s drivethru-style mic headset, and they have microphone stands in front of them. Talk about overkill.