The people have the power
By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
There are times in this job when you feel like a lone voice in the wilderness, your words lost somewhere in the vast technological trophosphere of the Internet, never to be absorbed or reflected upon. You slave over what you regard as a particularly well-articulated piece of prose, only to check the Indians.com comments section and see it has drawn nothing more than the usual negativity about Jhonny Peralta grounding into double plays.
For that reason, I should note, I am thankful for the CastroTurf community we have built up over the last few years and the loyal legion (however small) of self-proclaimed “Castronauts” who use this space for thoughtful banter about all things Indians.
And yet never have I felt the potential impact of this little corner of the World Wide Web quite like I did this morning, when I walked down the main hallway of the Indians’ Player Development Complex, looked under that photo of Kelly Shoppach crossing home plate as his gleeful teammates waited to greet him, and saw the most heartening of hyphens.
“Three-run homerun,” the caption read.
Could it be?
Yes, the caption that just two days earlier had erroneously read “three run homerun” had been 50 percent fixed (“home run” should still be two words, but I’m not going to nitpick and lose these warm and fuzzy feelings).
I took a few steps back, looked at the caption under the photo of Satchel Paige and was pleased by punctuation yet again.
“African-American pitcher,” it read in the place where, two days earlier, the unhyphenated, “African American” once stood.
My Tuesday blog entry, written somewhat tongue-in-cheek but nonetheless with a backbone of grammatical conviction, had been noted by a prominent figure in the Indians’ front office and immediately addressed. The power of the press, it would appear, still exists, even on such a miniscule scale.
Two hyphens, in a guarded hallway at a baseball complex in the Arizona desert, 20 miles west of Phoenix. This, friends, is my journalistic legacy.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…
- A scintillating morning at the PDC today. Guys stretched, guys played catch, guys took some groundballs, and a few guys even got up on the mound and threw the baseball into the glove of a catcher. It was pretty cool. Wish you could have been there.
- Things will begin to pick up considerably tomorrow, when the position players join the pitchers and catchers for the first full-squad workout of camp. Manny Acta will address the players beforehand with his first major pep talk as Tribe skipper. He said he’s been saving his best “Vincente Lombardo” material for Friday. Mainly, Acta will stress the importance of getting off to a strong start and try to instill a winning mentality in this young club. “We want to make these guys believe we can win,” he said.
- You might have seen White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen on Twitter (@ozzieguillen). You won’t be seeing Acta in the same capacity. “I’m not a Facebook guy, I’m not a Twitter guy, I’m not a MySpace guy,” he said. Vincente Lombardo… err… Vince Lombardi probably would have been the same way.
- Friday will also mark the initiation of live batting practice. It’s always a treat to watch a guy like Grady Sizemore stand in against a teammate like Fausto Carmona and see how he fares, especially when you consider how far ahead of the hitters the pitchers are at this point.
- Russell Branyan was in camp today and spoke to reporters about his decision to sign with the Tribe, rather than the Rays. He admitted it was a tough choice, but, in the end, decided the Indians were the better fit. He’s not sure if he’ll have the same guarantees to be the everyday guy at first base, as he was in Seattle, but he’s comfortable with the opportunities he will have here. "I've spoken to Mark [Shapiro] and Manny, and the way they want to handle it is to do whatever's best for the ballclub," Branyan said. "They're trying to create a winner in Cleveland, and whatever it takes is what's going to happen." I'll have more on Branyan on Indians.com in a little bit.
- As you might expect, the Indians are expecting to carry 12 pitchers at the outset of the season, so it’ll be the standard seven-man bullpen. It’s possible the Tribe will carry two lefties in the ‘pen in Rafael Perez and Tony Sipp. Acta said he’s not hung up on the need to have two lefties. “It’s only important if the guys are usable and you can have confidence in them,” Acta said. “We don’t need to have a certain amount of lefties or righties.”
- What the Indians do need to do this spring is get a read on Rule 5 Draft pickup Hector Ambriz. If he doesn’t make the Opening Day roster, he must be offered back to the Diamondbacks. “Obviously, we have to give the guy an opportunity,” Acta said. He said getting a good look at Ambriz will be more important than gauging veterans like Jamey Wright or Jason Grilli, who have more of a track record that can be counted on.
- Acta feels Carlos Santana’s English has progressed to the point of usability, when it comes to working with a pitching staff. “He’s not an introverted type of kid,” Acta said of Santana. “He’s not afraid to speak, he’s not shy. His English is going to continue to improve. He knows how important it is, and he’s going to put as much effort as possible into that.”
- Sipp says he isn’t overly superstitious when it comes to jersey numbers, and that’s a good thing. Last season, you may recall, Sipp was No. 49. But he lost that number to new pitching coach Tim Belcher (seniority reigns supreme in these matters). So Sipp took over No. 33, which he lost Wednesday when the Indians signed Russell Branyan. Now, Sipp is wearing No. 46, for who knows how long. “Scott Lewis told me that’s his old number,” Sipp said. “So if he comes back, I’ll probably lose it again.”
- David Huff changed his number to 28, which was worn recently by former bench coach Jeff Datz and not-so-recently by STO broadcaster Rick Manning and the legendary Cory Snyder, among others.
- The Indians will have two intrasquad games leading up to the March 5 Cactus League opener against the Reds. Those games will take place next Wednesday and Thursday. Smart money’s on the Tribe.
- Finally, from the alumni department, the top two headlines on MLB.com last night linked to a story on CC Sabathia feeling right at home with the world champion Yankees and a story on Cliff Lee tossing his first bullpen for a Mariners team giddy to have him in the fold. Those two guys, uh, used to pitch for the Indians.