"I'm gonna watch you shine, gonna watch you grow"
By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
Not much has changed about Goodyear in the past year. This is presumably a growing area that we won’t even recognize in five years, so fast will the development be.
Alas, the only new obvious developments I see from 2009 to 2010 are the Red Robin near my apartment and, of course, the Cincinnati Reds’ complex that neighbors that of the Tribe. So it’s a work in progress, obviously and understandably slowed by the nation’s economic picture.
But I am happy to report that Peanut Butter (which always gets capitalization in this space) has been added to the media lunch room at Goodyear Ballpark. And in the eyes of this scribe, that’s major progress.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…
- Purported Opening Day first baseman Russell Branyan arrived at the complex about noon today for his daily rehab work. Opening Day, for the record, is in 20 days.
- Where’s Shelley Duncan? Ostensibly competing for a spot on the Tribe bench, he hasn’t appeared in a Cactus League game since March 8 in Tucson, against the D-Backs. Apparently he’s been dealing with an elbow issue, but he’s expected to make the trip back to Tucson tomorrow, to face the Rockies.
- Where’s Rule 5 pickup Hector Ambriz? He’s also been dealing with an elbow issue and hasn’t appeared in a Cactus game since March 9. He’s expected to throw a bullpen session Wednesday. Obviously, this doesn’t help Ambriz’s chances of sticking with the Tribe.
- No throwing schedule has been announced for closer Kerry Wood (right lat soreness), but he was fielding grounders and tossing the ball around during BP this morning, so I’d say his injury is nothing serious. Also, Asdrubal Cabrera (strained left groin) took grounders and some swings today and should be back in the lineup soon.
- Jake Westbrook looked particularly sharp today in his third outing of the spring. He was perfect through three innings against the Giants before giving up a pair of base hits that led to a run in the fourth. But he got out of the mini-jam with an inning-ending double play. He threw 39 pitches in the game and another 20 in the bullpen, and he’ll now officially be on the normal pattern of four days’ rest between starts. “I’m excited about the way I came back from three days’ rest the last two outings,” he said.
- Westbrook said he stopped throwing bullpen sessions between starts four or five years ago, to combat soreness in his arm. But he’s begun throwing those sessions here in camp and plans to take that routine into the regular season. That tells you a lot about how good Westbrook’s arm feels, nearly two years removed from Tommy John surgery.
- Manny Acta named Westbrook his anticipated Opening Day starter even before Westbrook took the mound in winter ball. He’s pleased to see Westbrook is living up to expectations thus far. “I couldn’t backtrack from that anyway,” Acta joked. “I made the decision based on his track record. But he’s getting better each outing. Right now, he’s throwing well.”
- Shin-Soo Choo went deep for the first time this spring, and he did so against two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum. Choo had never faced Lincecum and his funky delivery before. “I’ve watched him a lot on TV,” Choo said. “I was watching his release point [from the on-deck circle]. He’s quick.” Choo, who is batting .350 with five RBIs in seven games this spring, said he feels ready for the season to start. “I’m seeing the ball good and not swinging at bad pitches,” he said.
- One young guy who has really stood out in camp, for all the right reasons, is third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, and he’s profiled at Indians.com today. Farm director Ross Atkins said Chisenhall has a special ability to not get caught up in his environment and just go about his work. “He can block out those derailers and distractions that don’t matter,” Atkins said. “He has such a natural swing and ability to square up the ball, and that probably contributes to his relaxed state.”
- Atkins said right-hander Omar Aguilar, acquired earlier today in a trade with the Brewers, will most likely head to Double-A Akron to start the season. Aguilar is a power arm with a hard fastball, and he’s shown flashes of what Atkins described as “an average Major League slider.” The Brewers were hyping him as a closing prospect a couple years ago, but his stock took a hit last year.
- Mitch Talbot said his outing against the Brewers on Monday was the best he’s thrown all spring. It certainly looked that way, as Talbot retired nine straight Milwaukee batters, then headed to the bullpen to keep throwing until he reached his pitch count. The Indians believe Talbot’s best pitch is his changeup, and Talbot agrees. “It hasn’t been my best pitch out here,” he said. “In Arizona, the ball slips out, and it’s harder to get a grip on it.” Talbot learned the changeup his junior year of high school. He initially threw a circle change that came in around 88 mph and didn’t have much differentiation from his fastball. His high school coach showed him a different grip, and he began to have success with it, after a little trial and error. “The first one I threw went about three feet above the head of the catcher,” he said. “But it had good action on it.”
- Outfielder Jordan Brown is back at the Player Development Complex following the arthroscopic knee surgery he had performed in Cleveland last week. Brown is walking without crutches already. “It’s amazing what they can do,” Brown said. “It was a 20-minute procedure, and I was putting weight on the knee in two to three days.” The official timetable for Brown’s return to action at Triple-A Columbus is four to eight weeks. Obviously, he hopes to be on the front end of that spectrum. “It’s a really aggressive rehab,” he said, “which is nice.” Brown will rehab here in Goodyear.
- Before today’s game, Carlos Santana was given the Lou Boudreau Award winner as the organization’s top Minor League position player of the year from 2009, and Hector Rondon was given the Bob Feller Award as the top Minor League pitcher of the year (with Feller, of course, on hand to present it to him).
- The Indians are facing the Reds for a 7:05 p.m. PT game on St. Patrick’s Day (aka Wednesday), and the two clubs are using the game to enhance their partnership with the city of Goodyear. All proceeds from Wednesday’s game, including ticket, merchandise, concessions and parking sales, will be donated to the Southwest Valley Family YMCA. As far as the St. Patrick’s Day occasion is concerned, Irish music will be played throughout the game, green beer will be served at the concessions and the Reds will wear green hats.
- Seniors were invited to run the bases after today’s game. As he walked off the field, Acta passed the line of people waiting for their turn and reminded them, “No sliding!”
- Secretly, way deep down, despite having gone to Georgetown for undergrad and served as student manager under John Thompson on the men’s basketball team, I believe Chris Antonetti is rooting for my OU Bobcats in the first round of the NCAAs on Thursday.
UPDATE: I neglected to mention that I’ve got an Inbox in the works for Thursday, so if you have a question to submit, go ahead and do so at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include your name and hometown.