"It must be impossible for a Spanish person to order seltzer and not get salsa."
By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
Regular readers of this space know that one of my favorite pastimes is arguing with Indians iTrac vision trainer Jason Stein, not-so-affectionately known as the “Master of Self-Promotion.”
The most heated of these arguments pertained to Clarence Clemons’ heroic/historic saxophone solo on “Jungleland” (which Stein callously dismissed as superfluous) and a debate over which American music legend has proven more influential, Bob Dylan (yes) or Willie Nelson (definitely not).
Well, Stein and I are at it again. This time, the argument pertains not to music but to Mexican. I referred to the food item that blankets a chicken fajita as a “wrap.” This immediately offended Stein, a native Texan and a self-described expert on Texican grub.
“Why do you call it a wrap?” he said in his Texan twang. “It’s a tortilla.”
I argued that a tortilla in chip form is known as a “tortilla chip” or simply a “chip,” and a tortilla in wrap form is known as a “tortilla wrap” or simply a “wrap.” Stein counters that a tortilla that’s fried becomes a “tortilla chip,” but the tortilla on its own is known just as a “tortilla” and never a “wrap.”
Somebody — anybody — please chip in, cast a deciding vote and wrap up this Mexican standoff.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…
- It’s natural – maybe even a little fun — to speculate that the Twins will come beating down Mark Shapiro’s door to get Kerry Wood. But the Twins already have a projected Opening Day payroll nearing $100 million, and they’d have to assume quite a bit of Wood’s $10.5 million contract (plus the vesting 2011 option) to make it worth it for the Indians to move him. So for now, I wouldn’t expect much on that front. But Wood will obviously be on the trading block all year, as this story discusses.
- Aaron Laffey started against the Mariners today and turned in two scoreless innings, just as he did in his first outing of the spring, against the Reds. The scoreless appearances can’t hurt Laffey’s hopes of landing one of the two open spots in the rotation. That’s a lesson he learned last year, when he went into the Cactus League season with the approach of working on his pitches and not necessarily worrying about the results. “That didn’t work out in my favor,” he said.
- No, it did not. Laffey was passed over for the fifth starting spot and was none too pleased about it. He sulked for a little while, then reported to Triple-A Columbus, only to be called up two weeks into the season to help out the rotation when Scott Lewis went down with an elbow injury. Laffey remained in the bigs from there on out, minus his stint on the disabled list with an oblique injury.
- This time around, Laffey said he’s working on his pitches behind the scenes, in his bullpen sessions. Specifically, he’s changed the grip on his two-seamer, trying to get more consistency with his location. The 57 walks allowed by Laffey in 121 2/3 innings in the Majors were rather uncharacteristic. “[The new grip] keeps the ball on the center of the plate and also has more depth to it,” he said. Laffey has had a coach stand in the box while he warms up in the bullpen to get a feel for the pitch. Then he takes what he’s learned about it into the game and, to this point, has fared quite well.
- Manny Acta said the Indians will take results into account, of course, but he said execution of pitches is what really counts. “It’s about getting first-pitch strikes, which we preach, and staying ahead of the hitters and keeping the defense involved,” Acta said.
- Justin Masterson worked 1 1/3 innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits with a walk and three strikeouts. Acta had to pull him because of his pitch count. Masterson had trouble controlling his sinker.
- Lots of Indians alumni in the Mariners clubhouse, including Cliff Lee, Ryan Garko, Franklin Gutierrez, Milton Bradley, Josh Bard, Mike Koplove, former pitching coach Carl Willis (now the M’s Minor League pitching coordinator) and former catcher Tim Laker (now the manager at Double-A West Tennessee). I talked with Garko and Lee about all the movement in Cleveland over the last two years. Here’s that story.
- I told you a little bit about Wes Hodges the other day. Formerly dubbed the Tribe’s “third baseman of the future,” he’s now facing the possibility of moving to first base full-time at Triple-A Columbus this season. He started at first base today and had a big game, contributing a pair of two-run doubles. “He can swing the bat,” Acta said. “He’s able to use the whole field.” Acta said Hodges’ position is a matter of inter-organizational debate, but he’ll “probably” end up at first. “If his bat comes around,” Acta said, “that’s going to be his ticket.”
- Luis Valbuena also had a nice day, going 3-for-3 with a double in the third, an RBI single in the sixth and two runs scored.
- Rule 5 pickup Hector Ambriz has logged two scoreless innings in two appearances, but they’ve both been adventures. He gave up a pair of hits to the Reds on Saturday and got out of it. Today, he walked the bases loaded with two out but got Guillermo Quiroz to fly out to end the inning. “He looked like he had his adrenaline pumping,” Acta said. “You can’t blame somebody who wants to impressive, but at times that’s not the way to do it.”
- They played Bob Seger’s “Fire Down Below” on the PA before today’s game. Sweet.