Beat the drum and hold the phone, the sun came out today

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

One win, two injuries, and about 97 tweets later, the first day of Cactus League play is in the books (and I have the early stages of carpal tunnel syndrome).

Once the drama of the Jordan Brown and Jason Grilli injuries settled down, the Indians had a nice day at The Big Chipotle.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…

  • Justin Masterson breezed through two innings of work. He even retired the only two lefties he faced.
  • A full story on Masterson will be up soon at Indians.com. But it’s interesting to note that he’s always quick to downplay the importance of his changeup, while the Indians (be it Eric Wedge last year or Manny Acta this year) are always quick to point out how pivotal that pitch will be if he’s going to have success against lefties. I’d side with the club on this one, because a sinking fastball and a slider thrown by a right-hander with a low arm slot isn’t always going to work. Masterson’s numbers last year are proof of that.
  • Here’s what Masterson said about the development of his changeup: “The funny thing is, when I first got drafted [in 2006], I went to the Instructional League and had an awesome changeup. I didn’t necessarily remember how I threw it, going into the offseason, and then it was a constant search to re-find what we were doing. The last few years it’s been a work in progress. I think we’ve finally come to something that won’t be perfect but, for the most part, will work.”
  • It worked today on Jay Bruce, who struck out on a check-swing… and broke his bat. Well, that’s technically not true. Apparently, Bruce broke the bat on a foul ball a pitch earlier and didn’t realize it. When he check-swung at strike three, the barrel of the bat went flying toward Masterson. “I thought he was throwing the bat at me,” Masterson said with a laugh. “I was like, ‘Come on, dude. I’m sorry!’”
  • Kerry Wood gave up a leadoff double but worked his way out of the jam without incident.
  • Aaron Laffey looked especially sharp, throwing two perfect innings. Laffey has kept a low profile in camp thus far, but, in my book, he’s still a favorite for a rotation spot. “He probably threw the ball the best today,” Acta said.
  • The Perez pair – Chris and Rafael – also worked a scoreless inning. The only guy who had any real trouble was Joe Smith, who allowed a pair of runs in the eighth.
  • The line on Rafael Perez was that he relied too heavily on his slider last year. He was less predictable in his starting stint in winter ball and today, mixing in his fastball to great effect.
  • By and large, Acta had a lot to like from his pitchers today. “They did what we preach,” he said. “Pound the strike zone.”
  • On the offensive end, Asdrubal Cabrera led off the game with a home run. That figures. Acta moved Grady Sizemore down to the No. 2 spot so that he could be the one driving Cabrera home and so that he wouldn’t be hitting as many solo shots. “It was a great at-bat all the way,” Acta said of Cabrera’s homer, which came on a 3-2 pitch from Mike Lincoln. “We were joking that some other guys can lead off games hitting home runs.”
  • Non-roster infielder Brian Buscher (who is not considered part of the middle infield utility mix, because he’s left-handed) and Nick “The Canuck with Pluck” Weglarz also went deep. Weglarz had a three-run blast.
  • Still no word on the extent of the Brown and Grilli injuries. That will come tomorrow.

~AC

6 Comments

“On the offensive end, Asdrubal Cabrera led off the game with a home run. That figures.”
Ahahaha! Good stuff, AC. I actually laughed out loud when I read that.
A lot to like here from our pitchers, but I’ll keep my dreams of a World Series low until we’ve seen a bit more!

a solid start to meaningless games! ah, i don’t even care, i’m just excited the tribe is playing again. can’t wait to make my annual pilgrimage to the north coast to catch a game.

Well said, very informative and nice presentation. Thanks for the post.

Sony

I’m glad that Masterson comes off differently in the article on indians.com than he did in the couple of quotes in this post. The quotes attributed to him here made me think that he just didn’t get it. He will not be effective as a starter in the major leagues without a changeup that he can use against lefties, so I hope he really is making efforts to find the one he had in the Instructional League. A good change can be more than an out pitch, it can be a strike out pitch – particularly for someone who throws as hard as Masterson.

In any case, good start for the Tribe, meaningless as it may be.

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