Today’s 1:05 p.m. ET game will be broadcast on WTAM and WKYC Channel 3.
INDIANS (59-76): CF Michael Brantley, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Jhonny Peralta, DH Travis Hafner, LF Matt LaPorta, 2B Luis Valbuena, 1B Andy Marte, C Chris Gimenez. LHP David Huff (8-7, 6.57).
TWINS (68-67): RF Denard Span, SS Orlando Cabrera, C Joe Mauer, DH Justin Morneau, LF Jason Kubel, 1B Michael Cuddyer, 3B Brendan Harris, CF Carlos Gomez, 2B Nick Punto. RHP Nick Blackburn (9-9, 4.16).
Just because today’s game wasn’t good enough for FOX doesn’t mean it’s not good enough for us, right? Right.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…
- Shin-Soo Choo is not in the lineup and not in the ballpark. He flew out to Phoenix on Thursday night to be with his wife, Woon Mi, for the birth of their second child. It was a boy who weighed in at 8 pounds, 3 ounces. No name yet. Choo was expected to be back in Cleveland tonight. No word on whether he’ll be in the lineup Sunday.
- But Choo better make it back in time for the Wonder Girls’ performance on Gateway Plaza before tomorrow’s 1:05 p.m. ET game. The South Korean girl group will no doubt be singing its hit single, “Nobody,” which is a favorite of Choo (“I want nobody, nobody but Choo”). They’ll also throw out a ceremonial first pitch and sign autographs.
- Throughout the second half, people – fans and media like – have insisted that the Indians should shut down Grady Sizemore. Obviously, the Tribe made that move yesterday, and some think it should have come much sooner in this lost season. “I don’t understand that,” Eric Wedge said. “What do we want him ready for? Are we getting him ready for Thanksgiving? Are we getting him ready for Christmas? … The guy wanted to play, and he wasn’t putting himself in any danger for next year, so that’s how we played it.”
- As for the notion that perhaps the Indians should have had Sizemore go under the knife at the beginning of the year, so that he could rehab and be ready for a strong second half, the fact of the matter is that Sizemore didn’t even inform the training staff that he was dealing with the elbow problem until May. And as Wedge stressed, surgery is considered a last resort, not a first line of thinking. “Surgery is not something you just jump into,” Wedge said. “It’s a big deal.”
- Michael Brantley has the green light on the basepaths, and that’s certainly a rare luxury for a rookie, especially one in his first week in the big leagues. “His feel is something I trust early on,” Wedge said. And Wedge, of course, reserves the right to take away that green light anytime he sees fit.
- Jose Veras tossed a perfect inning last night, and Wedge said he saw improvement. “He had better command,” Wedge said. “We’ve always liked his fastball. But I liked the way he pounded the zone and worked ahead.”
- Tony Sipp is really opening eyes, as he’s allowed just one run over his last 15 appearances, striking out 17 batters in 13 2/3 innings. “He trusts his stuff,” Wedge said, “and he’s been very aggressive.”
- Though cleared to be activated off the DL, the switch-hitting Trevor Crowe is still limited a bit from swinging from the left side.
- I caught up with Carl Pavano, who said he’s acclimated well to his new surroundings in the Minnesota clubhouse. He had laudatory things to say about playing for Eric Wedge and about working with head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff. Pavano said the Indians had no real financial incentive to be careful with him and his pitch counts early in the season, but they are the reason he is still on the field at this juncture of the year. He’s still dealing with the shoulder issue that caused him to skip a couple starts with the Tribe, and he said that’s left some of his pitches up.
- All in all, count me among those surprised to see Pavano log 162 innings pitched this season and still be a factor in September. It’s good to see, because Pavano, contrary to what anybody in New York thinks, is a great guy.
- Kelly Shoppach is the head driver on the struggle bus. He’s 4-for-his-last-34. He’s struck out 16 times in 43 plate appearances in that span.
- Andy Marte enters tonight in an 0-for-12 funk after a hot week.
- Last night’s win was the Tribe’s 700th in the history of this ballpark. The Tribe is 166 games over .500 all-time at Progressive (nee Jacobs) Field.
- First baseman Beau Mills drove in his 82nd run of the season in Double-A Akron’s 5-1 win over Erie last night. He’s now ranked seventh in the Eastern League in RBIs. Josh Tomlin won his league- and organizational-best 14th game. Jose “Can’t Stand Ya” Constanza swiped four bags to give him 48 on the season, which is tied for the fourth-most in the league.
- On a completely unrelated note, tickets for the Ohio University-UConn tilt at Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio (the navel of the universe) tonight are just $5. If you hurry, you can still make it.
Today’s 4:10 p.m. ET game at Progressive Field will be on WTAM but won’t be on TV. It will only be available for viewing on MLB.TV.
INDIANS (59-75): CF Michael Brantley, LF Jamey Carroll, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, 3B Jhonny Peralta, DH Travis Hafner, RF Matt LaPorta, 2B Luis Valbuena, 1B Andy Marte, C Wyatt Toregas. RHP Justin Masterson (4-6, 4.57).
TWINS (67-67): CF Denard Span, SS Orlando Cabrera, DH Joe Mauer, 1B Justin Morneau, LF Jason Kubel, RF Michael Cuddyer, 3B Brendan Harris, C Jose Morales, 2B Nick Punto. RHP Scott Baker (12-7, 4.44).
We’ll begin with a cautionary tale. In this space, I provide you with plenty of injury updates over the course of a season — a product of my access to the clubhouse and the dugout (indigestion updates are a product of my access to the media dining room).
But I don’t have access to the trainer’s room, which is why I, as a reporter, get duped time and again by a team protecting its competitive integrity by misleading the press every so often.
Case in point: I’ve spent all season occasionally inquiring about the condition of Grady Sizemore’s left groin and been told each time that it’s fine and that the problem that kept him out of the World Baseball Classic was healed in Spring Training. Still, the stolen-base numbers didn’t lie, and today we find out that Sizemore will have surgery to address the issue in a couple weeks.
As a reporter, you get upset when you discover you’ve been misled in such a manner. But as a rational-thinking human being, you understand that the Indians gain nothing by telling the dude from MLB.com that their leadoff man isn’t up to full speed on the basepaths. It’s a similar scenario to last season, when Victor Martinez’s elbow issue was kept a secret. It’s part of the game, and I get it.
I suppose I could offer up more bold assertions in my reports from this point forward, such as, “The Indians insist Sizemore is not still dealing with the groin strain, but it’s obviously affecting him on the basepaths.” But such speculation (while not exactly empty in this instance, given Sizemore’s stolen-base total this season) would be speculation and nothing more. And I would hope regular readers of this blog and of Indians.com realize that speculation not based on legitimate conversations with people proven to have accurate information about the goings-on of this ballclub is not my specialty (there’s plenty of other places on the Internet for that kind of stuff).
So, we’ll just go with what we know when we know it. And sometimes we won’t know it until a player is officially scheduled to go under the knife.
On the other hand, one thing I don’t understand was the Indians’ decision to mislead reporters in Detroit earlier this week, when we were told that the Sizemore situation was still being discussed and that no decisions had been made as to whether or not he’d be shut down. Head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff made it clear that it was decided in Baltimore last week that Sizemore’s season would come to an end after the road trip. Maybe I’m not thinking about this hard enough, but I don’t see what the Indians gained by hiding that information from us.
And with that said, we move on to the minutiae.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…
- Double-A Akron catcher Carlos Santana has been named the Eastern League MVP. He’s batting .289 with 21 homers and 94 RBIs in 127 games. He leads the league with a .518 slugging percentage, a .930 OPS and 89 walks. He’s also thrown out 30 percent of would-be base stealers. “Carlos has had an extremely consistent and productive year and has not taken for granted that he’s exceptionally talented as a baseball player,” farm director Ross Atkins said in a release. “He has worked to improve upon what is already good enough to afford him Major League opportunity, and he clearly has the opportunity to be one of the best at what he does.”
- This is the second straight season Santana has won his league’s MVP honor. He was named MVP of the California League last year, despite playing the final month of the season in the Carolina League after his trade from the Dodgers.
- In just his fourth Major League game, Michael Brantley is batting leadoff. He’s excited about the opportunity. “You can hope and dream that it’s going to happen,” he said, “but now that it’s actually here, it’s even more exciting.”
- Brantley, who drew 59 walks against 48 strikeouts and stole 46 bases at Columbus this season, profiles for the role. “This is a good opportunity for him at this level,” Eric Wedge said.
- But this opportunity doesn’t solely belong to Brantley. Wedge said the newly activated Trevor Crowe will see time in center field and possibly at leadoff, and Asdrubal Cabrera might see some more time at leadoff, as well. “We’ve got options,” Wedge said.
- Mike Gosling is back. And that begs the question: What is Mike Gosling doing here? The Indians already had an eight-man bullpen, including a long man in the form of Tomo Ohka. And since being designated for assignment a month ago, Gosling had transitioned to starting work and posted a 6.66 ERA at Triple-A Columbus. Wedge said Gosling is here as a precaution, should some game get out of control. “We don’t want to walk that line, in case we have a tough couple of days,” Wedge said. “[Gosling] can pitch in multiple roles.”
- Tony Sipp has allowed just one run over his last 14 appearances, covering 12 2/3 innings. He’s struck out 13 batters in that span.
- Infielder Lonnie Chisenhall and Cord Phelps and outfielder Tim Fedroff are Carolina League end-of-season All-Stars. Chisenhall hit .276 with 18 homers and 79 RBIs in 99 games for Kinston before getting promoted to Akron, Phelps leads the Carolina League with 91 walks, and Fedroff is currently 10th in the league with a .277 average.
- Don’t forget about the Indians Wives Association’s “Shirts off the Players’ Backs” silent auction, which will be taking place at Section 153 of Progressive Field during tomorrow afternoon’s game. The auction, which will conclude at the top of the seventh inning, will feature game-worn jerseys from Indians players such as Sizemore, Peralta, Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera and Travis Hafner. More than a dozen game-worn and autographed jerseys will be available, and proceeds benefit the Domestic Violence Center.
- Finally, from the “Old Habits Die Hard” department, Carl Pavano is listed on both the Twins and Indians rosters on the scoresheets handed out to the media tonight.
As hinted on Twitter earlier this afternoon, Grady Sizemore has been shut down to have season-ending arthroscopic surgery on his inflamed left elbow.
Head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff will meet with reporters in a few minutes to discuss the impending surgery.
Michael Brantley is taking over Sizemore’s duties in center field and the leadoff spot tonight and, I’d imagine, for the better part of the remaining schedule.
Also today, left-hander Mike Gosling’s contract has been purchased from Triple-A Columbus. This is his second stint with the club. He was 0-0 with a 6.75 ERA in seven appearances between June 19 to Aug. 1. While with the Clippers since being designated for assignment on Aug. 1, he was 0-3 with a 6.66 ERA in five games, including four starts.
UPDATE: Not only is Sizemore having the elbow surgery (which will take place next week at the Cleveland Clinic), he’ll also have a procedure performed the following week to stabilize his left abdominal wall.
Essentially, the groin pull that Sizemore suffered in Spring Training, forcing him out of the World Baseball Classic, never fully healed, and this procedure will address it. Sizemore visited specialist Dr. Bill Meyers in Philadelphia while the team was in Baltimore last week, and Meyers recommended either rest or surgery. The Indians will go the surgical route, and Sizemore will rehab from the two procedures concurrently.
Neither procedure is considered serious, and the plan is for Sizemore to initiate his regular offseason conditioning program in early November.
Also, OF Trevor Crowe (oblique strain) was activated off the DL, so he’s another option in center field.
What better way to get pumped up for a day game than to blast the sweet soul melodies of Hall & Oates?
All right, I can think of roughly 1,394,193 better ways. But apparently, this was the best the Indians could come up with this morning, because the voices of Darryl Hall and John Oates blared through the speakers in the visiting clubhouse at Comerica Park, creating a disturbing mix of pop and jock.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…
- We haven’t discussed the fate of Eric Wedge in these parts in a while, as the Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez trades took the heat off the beleaguered skipper. But there are conversations taking place in the Indians’ front office right now about the fate of Wedge and his coaches, and Wedge told reporters this morning that he expects some resolution by season’s end. “If they told me tomorrow that I’ll be back or that I’m not going to be back,” Wedge said, “I wouldn’t handle anything differently, either way. My job is to put us in the best position to be a better team, regardless.” Should be interesting to see what happens Oct. 5, if not earlier.
- If you didn’t like the early returns on the Lee trade when Carlos Carrasco turned in a rough debut the other night, you won’t like the news that 19-year-old Jason Knapp will be shut down for two weeks as the Indians try to determine the extent of his right shoulder soreness. Head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff said Knapp had an MRI exam on the shoulder this week, and the club is “still in the process of gathering information.” Surgery has not yet been ruled out as an option. If Knapp is healthy enough to do so, he’ll probably pitch somewhere this winter to account for the innings he missed while on the DL at the time of the trade. He made four starts for Class A Lake County, but the shoulder trouble persisted.
- Jhonny Peralta shunned the media after his three-error performance in last night’s loss. He said he was upset with himself and didn’t want to talk. This morning, he said he had put the rough game behind him, but he said third base is still an adjustment for him. “At shortstop, every groundball I knew how to move,” he said. “Third base is a little different. You don’t have time to think.”
- For the record, that was the first time Peralta ever made three errors in a game. And as bad as the three errors were, he did make a tremendous diving stop of a ball hit by Brandon Inge in the fifth inning to prevent an extra-base hit. “I know I can be a good third baseman,” Peralta said.
- The errors weren’t all that plagued Peralta last night. He also grounded into the game-ending double play. In fact, Peralta is making a late-season push for the GIDP title. He’s now grounded into 18 double plays, tied for the fifth-most in the AL. Only the Rays’ Evan Longoria (25), the Mariners’ Jose Lopez (20), the Red Sox’s Mike Lowell (19) and the Twins’ Orlando Cabrera (19) have more. The Twins’ Michael Cuddyer also has 18.
- The Indians became the third team this season to log five errors in one game, joining the Mets and Giants.
- Right-hander Jeanmar Gomez has been named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year. Gomez went 10-4 with a 3.38 ERA in 21 starts this season and threw a perfect game in May.
- Maybe I’m the only one who finds this remotely interesting, but the Indians’ first game after the CC Sabathia trade was here at Comerica Park, and this is also where both Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley, the two key acquisitions in that trade, made their Major League debuts.
- Wedge said he’s going to hold off on giving Brantley any starts in the leadoff spot, where he was accustomed to batting in the Minors, until he gets settled in. But it is possible down the stretch, particularly if Grady Sizemore gets shut down.
- Finally, if you’re attending Saturday’s game against the Twins, be sure to visit the Indians Wives Association’s “Shirts off the Players’ Backs” silent auction, which will be taking place at Section 153 of Progressive Field. The auction, which will conclude at the top of the seventh inning, will feature game-worn jerseys from Indians players such as Sizemore, Peralta, Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera and Travis Hafner. More than a dozen game-worn and autographed jerseys will be available, and proceeds benefit the Domestic Violence Center.
Today’s 1:05 p.m. ET game at Comerica Park is on WTAM and STO.
INDIANS (58-74): CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Jamey Carroll, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, DH Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Jhonny Peralta, RF Matt LaPorta, 1B Andy Marte, LF Michael Brantley, C Kelly Shoppach. RHP Fausto Carmona (3-9, 6.20).
TIGERS (71-61): CF Curtis Granderson, RF Clete Thomas, LF Carlos Guillen, 1B Miguel Cabrera, DH Aubrey Huff, C Alex Avila, 3B Brandon Inge, 2B Ramon Santiago, SS Adam Everett. LHP Nate Robertson (1-1, 6.84).
You know you’re in Detroit when you have to pass through a metal detector upon entering the media gate at the ballpark.
Keep on rockin’, Motor City!
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…
- You might have noticed that there’s been little rhyme or reason to the matchups of starting pitcher to starting catcher. That’s by design, apparently. “I’m trying to give different guys the opportunity to catch different guys and pitchers the chance to throw to different guys,” Eric Wedge said. “Sometimes you get locked into something [a la the Kelly Shoppach-Cliff Lee combo], but you’d rather not be that way.”
- This will get even more complicated when Lou Marson presumably joins the club following Monday’s end to the Triple-A season. Wedge said if that’s the case, he’ll just pick his spots with his catchers.
- Jason Knapp, the 19-year-old right-hander who was a key acquisition in the Cliff Lee trade, won’t pitch again this year. Knapp, who was on the disabled list at the time of the trade, is still battling shoulder soreness. He had an MRI exam on the shoulder last week, but the Indians are mum on the extent of the injury because Knapp had not signed the form authorizing the club to discuss his medical condition.
- Nothing new on the Grady Sizemore situation, as obviously he’s in tonight’s lineup. If I had to guess (and it’s only a guess), I’d say the Indians make up their minds as to whether or not Sizemore will have elbow surgery before season’s end around the time Trevor Crowe gets activated off the DL. But we’ll see. “I see both sides [of the debate],” Sizemore said. “Every player wants to be out there and finish the season. But I understand the logic behind the conversation. They want to put me in a position to where I’m strong for next year.”
- Wedge said Sizemore’s recovery would not be as slow and deliberate as Travis Hafner’s recovery from arthroscopic shoulder surgery last year. The Indians anticipate that Sizemore can be at full health by the start of Spring Training if they time this right.
- Michael Brantley might have a little more leeway on the basepaths than the average September callup. After all, he did swipe 46 bags in Triple-A this year. “We’ve got the luxury of working off Spring Training and seeing his feel and his breaks,” Wedge said. “And we know what he was able to do in Triple-A. For a young player, he has very good feel.”
- Brantley’s newest prized possession is the ball he swatted for his first Major League hit last night. “It’s going right up on my wall,” he said proudly, “and I’m going to keep it for the rest of my life.”
- Andy Marte – he of the four homers in his last seven games – said two things have helped contribute to his strong season: a shorter stroke and better conditioning. “I feel more energy,” he said. And the increased playing time the last two weeks obviously helps, too.
- Carl Pavano is the Twins’ probable starter for Friday night’s series opener at Progressive Field.
- With Brantley and Carlos Carrasco making their debuts last night, the Indians have now used 50 players this season — 29 pitchers and 21 position players.
- Akron Aeros manager Mike Saurbaugh was named Manager of the Year by the Double-A Eastern League. No surprise there. The Aeros, with a league-best 83-53 record, have clinched their fifth consecutive postseason berth. This is Saurbaugh’s second season at the helm.
- The Aeros’ playoff schedule, by the way, begins Sept. 9, with divisional round games scheduled at 7:05 p.m. ET at Canal Park on Sept. 9, 10 and 13 (if necessary).
- Victor Martinez trade acquisition Nick Hagadone makes his Class A Kinston debut tonight. He was 0-1 with a 2.45 ERA in five starts for Lake County.
- John Meloan, who was traded by the Tribe and released by both the Rays and the Pirates, has latched on with the A’s, who plucked him off waivers and assigned him to Triple-A Sacramento.
- The Indians have homered in nine of their last 10 games.
- The bullpen ERA over the last 21 games is 3.78.
- Jhonny Peralta is the Tribe’s nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, which is given annually to the MLB player who combines exceptional performance on the field with devoted work in the community. You can vote for the Clemente Award nominees at www.chevy.com/clemente.
Tonight’s 7:05 p.m. ET game at Comerica Park is on WTAM and STO.
INDIANS (58-73): CF Grady Sizemore, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Jhonny Peralta, DH Travis Hafner, 2B Luis Valbuena, 1B Andy Marte, LF Michael Brantley, C Wyatt Toregas. LHP Aaron Laffey (7-3, 3.40).
TIGERS (70-61): CF Ryan Raburn, 2B Placido Polanco, RF Magglio Ordonez, 1B Miguel Cabrera, DH Marcus Thames, 3B Brandon Inge, LF Wilkin Ramirez, C Gerald Laird, SS Adam Everett. RHP Rick Porcello (11-8, 4.27).
September is here, and the race for third place is officially on.
And the CastroTurf blog is back up and running just in time for the stretch run. So let’s get to it.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…
- The Indians are considering shutting down Grady Sizemore and having him undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left elbow before season’s end. Sizemore is batting .317 with eight extra-base hits over his last 19 games, but when you see him struggle to throw the ball to the infield, you wonder what he’s still doing out there. Eric Wedge said Sizemore’s elbow condition is no worse now than it was, say, a couple months ago. But with Michael Brantley here and Trevor Crowe nearing his return, the Indians are considering the possibility of giving Grady a headstart on his rehab.
- Wedge also said Shin-Soo Choo will probably get spelled more down the stretch. Choo is two years removed from Tommy John surgery, so the Indians might still take some precautions with him.
- Travis Hafner had his ailing left shoulder examined in Cleveland on Monday, and “nothing extraordinary” (those are Wedge’s words) was found. Pronk should be back in the lineup tomorrow night.
- Crowe, on the 15-day DL with a right oblique strain, is here in Detroit to ramp up his baseball activities. He hopes to be activated by the end of the week. Wedge didn’t reveal a specific timetable.
- Kerry Wood is available tonight. He had been dealing with a minor shoulder issue that is apparently not bothering him anymore.
- Brantley will see time in both left field, where he’s starting tonight, and center field, where he spent the majority of his time in Triple-A. Brantley batted .298 with five doubles, a triple, a homer and 10 runs scored in 21 games in August.
- Brantley’s father, Mickey, is in attendance tonight. Mickey is a former Mariners outfielder and Blue Jays coach. He’s a good man, and he’s raised a good son. From the way he carries himself, you would never suspect that Michael is just 22 years old.
- The August deadline for clubs to add players eligible for postseason rosters passed, and Jamey Carroll is still here. I can’t say I’m completely shocked, and neither, for the record is Carroll. “I’m a utility guy,” he said. “When’s the last time a utility guy was traded?”
- Andy Marte, a favorite of the CastroTurf Commenters (sounds like a band name… and an awful one, at that), is on fire. Marte has three homers in his last six games and six RBIs in his last four games. He’s batting .375 (15-for-40) over his last 11 games after batting just .125 (7-for-40) over his first 12 games. Wedge had said last week that Marte was missing “hittable” pitches (drawing the ire of the CCs). Here’s what Wedge had to say about Marte today: “He’s made some adjustments. There are real reason things are happening for him up here. The last week to 10 days, he’s really found his swing. It’s great to see, because he’s a great kid. He’s never given in to the fight or the frustration.”
- Jose Veras was getting Triple-A batters out. If his performance with the Tribe is any indication, that success won’t translate up here, but we’ll see.
- Speaking of wayward relievers, John Meloan was designated for assignment by the Pirates. When the Indians traded him for nothing (aka Winston Abreu), it was a sign that there must be something wrong with this guy. Now that the Rays and Pirates have both passed on him in the past month, I’m convinced.
- Speaking of the Buccos, the Indians traded LHP Bobby Livingston to them for cash.
- How many Minor Leaguers have the Indians traded to the Pirates for cash the last two years? We have to be in or nearing double digits.
- We haven’t had any minutiae up here the last few days, but some things haven’t changed. Chris Perez is still mowing them down (17 1/3-inning scoreless streak… the longest by a Tribe reliever since Rafael Betancourt worked 19 straight scoreless in 2007), and Asdrubal Cabrera (.370 average and 14 RBIs in August) is still hot.
- Luis Valbuena has had a hot enough second half to bump up to the No. 5 spot of tonight’s lineup.
- The Indians were named one of the best workplaces in Northeast Ohio by NorthCoast 99, an annual recognition program that honors 99 workplaces for top talent in the region. The program was developed and is presented by the Employer’s Resource Council.
- I sense a few jokes about trades coming after that last note. If you post one, do us all a favor and at least make it remotely clever, all right?