"Heaven knows I've been away too long"
By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
I’m off to watch my Ohio University Bobcats tackle Georgetown in the first round of the NCAAs. And then I’m really off, heading home to Cleveland for a few days.
I’ll be back in the Spring Training saddle on Tuesday. Until then, I’ll be leaving you in the more-than-capable hands of my MLB.com colleagues Tom Singer and Jesse Sanchez, who will have the daily reports on Indians.com.
But before I leave you, here’s a few days’ worth of minutiae to keep you as satiated as possible.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…
- Check out Indians.com for a feature on Fausto Carmona and the latest edition of the Indians Inbox. Also, take a look at an esteemed panel’s take on the Indians’ All-Decade team for the 2000s.
- Asdrubal Cabrera will be back in the lineup Friday in Scottsdale, against the Giants. He’s been out since last Friday with a mild left groin strain suffered on a headfirst slide into third base. Cabrera had another baserunning mishap earlier this spring when his belt broke on a slide. “That was crazy,” he said. “I had to borrow Sandy Alomar’s belt. The big belt.” Cabrera took groundballs and batting practice Wednesday and ran the bases today.
- Veteran reliever Jason Grilli had what figures to be season-ending surgery to repair the quadriceps tendon in his right knee on Wednesday in Vail, Colo. Grilli injured the knee on the agility field while doing a running drill. He had been hoping to compete for a spot in the Tribe bullpen.
- Kerry Wood (right lat soreness) played catch today, but that’s about it. Not sure when he’s getting back into games, but Manny Acta continues to say the injury is nothing serious. “I know you have to write about it, but it’s not an issue for us,” Acta said. “It’s not a big deal.”
- Russell Branyan’s lower back issue, on the other hand? Who knows? All I know is Acta was asked if there’s been any progress with Branyan, and all he said was, “No. We’ll let you know the day before he’s ready to play.” (Countdown to Opening Day: 18 days.)
- Jeremy Sowers, likely headed for the DL as he gets stretched back out following shoulder soreness, made his spring debut against the Reds today, allowing a pair of runs on three hits with no walks and no strikeouts in two innings. Jonny Gomes took him deep in the second. “In terms of health, I felt fine,” Sowers said. “In terms of effectiveness, I had highs and lows. But you don’t expect to come out with guns a blazin’ and painting the knees the first time out in Spring Training.”
- Sowers is out of Minor League options and knows he could be nearing the end of his tenure with the Tribe. The Indians will stretch him out as a starting alternative, but who knows if they’ll have a need for him in the rotation early in the year? What is Sowers expecting? “I just want to be healthy,” he said. “Whatever else happens is out of my control. If my place isn’t here but with somebody else, it’s fine. I’ve been treated very well by this organization. It’s a first-rate organization. They’ll do whatever is best for the team.”
- Sowers was running sprints across the warning track as his Vanderbilt Commodores fell to Murray State. He was not pleased to learn about Murray State’s win on a last-second three-pointer. And neither was Jensen Lewis, who had Vandy in his Final Four. Hang with ’em.
- Travis Hafner’s starting to drive the ball. He doubled the other day and homered to dead center today, off Reds right-hander Enerio Del Rosario. “He’s feeling good,” Acta said. “He’s getting all the extra work he asked for, and we’re able to play him back to back to back games. I’m sure if this guy’s healthy, he’s going to help us out.” Acta is expecting Pronk to enter the season with “no restrictions” after two years of shoulder issues.
- Carlos Carrasco is not in the mix for one of the Indians’ rotation vacancies and is ticketed for Triple-A Columbus. But the Cliff Lee trade acquisition made a nice impression on the coaching staff by pitching four no-hit innings against the Rockies’ regulars in Tucson on Wednesday. “That’s what I want to do,” Carrasco said. “I was aggressive and felt I could throw anything in any count. … I want to prove they can trust me that I can make the team and keep the ball down.”
- Hector Rondon will also be a guy worth tracking in the Columbus rotation. He worked three scoreless against the Reds today, striking out four batters along the way. “He threw the ball very well,” Acta said. “He had a good slider today, and that’s something we’re looking for from him.”
- Tony Sipp is assured of a bullpen spot, but he’s having a rough spring. He walked three batters in Tucson on Wednesday and has walked five batters total in four innings of work in the Cactus League. He’s carrying a 6.75 ERA. The walks bother Sipp more than anything else. “You don’t give yourself a chance when you do that,” he said. Sipp knows it’s too early to read too much into the results, but that’s no consolation. “Nobody wants to go out and do bad,” he said. “You want to have some good momentum going into the season.”
- Wes Hodges has been on a tear this spring. Today he got the Indians on the board with an RBI single in the second inning and followed that up with a solo homer of Homer Bailey in the fourth. Hodges is batting .391 this spring, if you need him. It’s just a shame he doesn’t have a position to call his own. Moving to first base this season means he’ll have the potential to be blocked by Matt LaPorta (or Branyan… but… well… you know).
- Quietly, Trevor Crowe’s been swinging the bat pretty well, too. He was in the leadoff spot today and went 2-for-3 with a walk. If Crowe can bring those kind of contributions to the plate on a regular basis, he’d be a nice piece of the bench — a switch-hitter with speed.
- Minor League exhibition games begin Friday, with the Indians’ farmhands taking on the Brewers. Columbus and Akron will play host to Nashville and Huntsville, while Kinston and Lake County will travel to Maryvale to take on Wisconsin and Helena.
- Lewis, Lou Marson and Mitch Talbot were tossing a football around in the clubhouse this morning. Somewhere, “The Room” director Tommy Wiseau was smiling.
- Finally, the line of the day goes to the legendary Bob Feller. Rapid Robert, 91, threw out a ceremonial first pitch at an old timers’ game in Mesa on Wednesday. “One of these days,” Feller said with a smile, “it will be the last first pitch.”