"That's the way you do it! That's the way you debate!"
By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
I had an inkling the “tortilla” vs. “wrap” discussion would inspire thoughtful debate, and I humbly accept the fact that the vast majority of you (including my fiancée, who is now on shaky ground) sided with Jason “The Master of Self-Promotion” Stein on this one. I shall hereby cease referring to tortillas wrapped around fajitas as wraps.
But I think my dad best articulated my feelings on the “Jungleland” saxophone solo and the Bob Dylan vs. Willie Nelson debate:
“Stein’s lack of understanding of the nature of said sax solo is a result of his inability to grasp the meaning behind this musical masterpiece. It is the ballet that is danced, the opera that is sung, the plaintive cry of youth yet to be understood.
“Dylan vs. Nelson is like comparing DiMaggio to Kaline. Both Hall of Famers. But one a master of the sport, a brilliant performer, a class act who married the most beautiful woman in the world. The other a very good ballplayer.”
Amen. I’m up 2-1, Stein.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…
- Russell Branyan was supposed to make his Cactus League debut today, but he was nowhere to be found. That’s pretty much been the case since the Indians signed him two weeks ago, as I have yet to see Branyan, who has a herniated disc in his lower back, take any batting practice. Manny Acta said Branyan has been taking groundballs and some swings (probably in the indoor cages). But it was Acta who announced that Branyan would play today, and, following the game, it was Acta who announced that there is now no such timetable for Branyan. “This is what we knew when we signed him,” Acta said. “He’s still finishing his rehab. We have a lot of time left. We’ve got to take care of this guy.” Branyan didn’t play the last month of the ’09 season with the Mariners.
- So far, the Branyan situation reminds me a little bit of ’07, when the Indians signed Trot Nixon, and he arrived to camp barely able to move following back surgery. Nixon slowly eased his way into action and, of course, was able to assume his position as the Tribe’s regular right fielder at the start of the season. The Indians obviously expect Branyan to be ready, as well, though I wouldn’t classify Wednesday’s change in plans as a great first step.
- Matt LaPorta, on the other hand, did manage to make his Cactus League debut today, playing three innings at first base and going 0-for-1 at the plate. He’s still seeing all his time at first but will eventually transition out to left field.
- I profiled LaPorta on the Indians.com site today. A collection of quotes has been kept in the clubhouse this spring, and the “LaPortaisms” that have been chronicled have been hysterical.
- The highlight for the Indians today was a nine-run fourth inning in which 14 guys came to the plate, all nine guys scored a run and Grady Sizemore smacked a grand slam off Jackson Quezada. That pretty much sealed the game, which improved the Indians to 5-0 this spring season. “Guys are pounding the strike zone and playing good defense,” Acta said. “[In the big inning] they took advantage of a little wildness by [the Padres]. That’s what we tell our guys is you have to pound the strike zone [to avoid those innings].”
- If you’re wondering where Carlos Carrasco’s been, he pitched in Monday’s intrasquad game here in Goodyear, while the Tribe was in Tucson. I’m told LaPorta took him deep.
- Speaking of action that goes beyond the Cactus schedule, the Indians will have a “B” game against the Reds here on Sunday morning.
- From the alumni department, Josh Barfield entered today’s game at second base in the bottom of the sixth. After being cast off by the Indians last fall, he signed a Minor League deal with the Padres last month and was not given an invite to big league camp. This guy was once supposed to be the Tribe’s long-term second baseman. Today, he was wearing No. 99 for the Pads. I root for Barfield because he’s a great kid and a hard worker, but he obviously has a long climb ahead of him if he’s going to get back to the bigs.
- I talked a little with Hector Ambriz about his spring so far. Rule 5 situations are inherently awkward, because the odds are generally against the guy sticking with the club. They come in, get acclimated to a new staff and new teammates, then get shipped back to their old team if they don’t make the Opening Day roster. But Ambriz found the acclimation process here to be pretty easy. After all, he joined a club that’s experienced a ridiculous amount of turnover in the past year. “I didn’t skip a beat there,” he said.
- Ambriz has a real opportunity here, given the state of the Tribe ‘pen, but he knows he’s going to need to rein in his adrenaline a bit if he’s going to make the most of it. He’s turned in two scoreless innings, but he’s been a little wild in the process. Ambriz is converting from starting to relief work, so he’s working with Tim Belcher, Scott Radinsky and Charlie Nagy on refining his pitch selection. “I throw a curveball, slider and split[-fingered fastball],” he said. “It’s a matter of focusing in on one to get first-pitch strikes.”
- Tribe owner Larry Dolan was in the house today.
- Not too many other people were. The Indians announced that 2,271 tickets were distributed for today’s game, and there were definitely fewer than that actually in the seats. The weather has not been ideal, and it’s not quite spring break season, but, from my vantage point the past week, Cactus League attendance has been hurting so far.