"Heaven knows I've been away too long"

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

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.”

~AC

19 Comments

AC, 15 minutes left and I don’t know if I can’t take much more of this game!

“he’d be a nice piece of the bench — a switch-hitter with speed”

AC, wouldn’t you consider Crowe to be a viable starting option in left field if Branyan is on the DL and LaPorta is at 1B?

I can’t speak for AC, AM, but I think part of the hesitance with Crowe is that he’s another left handed bat, and they wanted to balance the line-up with Branyan.
But Crowe definitely looks like he deserves a shot.

point taken LACF. I don’t know Crowe’s career L/R splits off the top of my head but he should definitely be the 4th OF candidate. My only contention is that he should deserve the playing time IF Branyan is on the DL AND Brantley’s clock is delayed. You can’t teach speed and being a switch hitter helps a little with our one-sided lineup

Crowe isn’t left handed LACF, he’s a switch hitter. It looks like generally does a little better against left handed pitching from the right side. Crowe’s definitely been one of the more impressive players this spring, I can’t imagine that he won’t at least get the 4th outfielder spot.

all I have to say is hearing Tom Hamilton’s call of Andy Marte’s grand slam really got me in the mood for baseball. Legendary.

I believe it was ST who suggested that Wood’s “soreness” could somehow mysteriously linger on for weeks. Looks like he was right, 6-8 weeks to be exact.

Now we have 3 bullpen spots open. It looks promising for Rivera, Wright, +1.

I wonder if they’d consider someone like Josh Judy for the bullpen? I feel like their policy right now is to take it slow with all prospects, so probably not. Rivera, Wright and Jensen Lewis will probably be the 3 to start the year. I think both Judy, Putnam and Rondon all look better than those 3 guys, though.

ST, I think you just laid out why Brantley will be in Columbus, 2 RBI today or not. With Crowe being a switch hitter (not a lefty like I said), they’ve got a guy who can start the season in left and keep Brantley’s clock from ticking.
Josh Judy has been really impressive, IMO. I’m looking forward to seeing more from him.
The Kerry Wood situation is a great example of Shapiro’s strengths and weaknesses: a bad free agent signing, yet he’ll be replaced as closer by a guy we got in a great trade.
At this point, I don’t think it’s a really a battle for the #4 spot anymore. Talbot had an edge given his lack of options to begin with, but he seems to be showing no signs of cooling off. Huff did himself no favors today.

“He’s fine,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “He stepped awkwardly at first base on that play. Other than that, I saw him walk out of the game. I’m not anticipating anything serious. He’ll be examined and you guys will find out more tomorrow.”

Acta wasn’t concerned about Kerry Wood either so I will remain cautious with Brantley’s ankle. I am starting to conform to ST’s rationale on this one: does anything concern Manny Acta?

It was good to finally have an Austin Kearns sighting. I think he has a legitimate shot at the 4th OF spot given Branyan and now Brantley’s injuries. Crowe probably just locked up the starting LF job.

Josh Judy continues to impress me and I feel more comfortable with him in the bullpen than I do Jensen Lewis. I’d take Crowe, Kearns, Marson, Grudz, and Marte as my bench fillers. For the ‘pen I could see C. Perez, Smith (only against righties), R. Perez (situational lefty to start), Sipp, Judy, Wright, and Rivera. I see Talbot and Laffey as the 4th and 5th SP, respectively.

14 days until opening day!

I still don’t like Kearns. Anyone can run into a ball and have it carry out of the park in the desert. He’s been a strikeout waiting to happen, I think yesterday were his first RBIs of the spring–it sounds like he had some pretty serious issues with his hand which have probably permanently hampered his swing … On the other hand, it sounds like Hafner’s been crushing it. He apparently just missed another home run a couple days ago except he hit it into the wind. I wish he’d waited a couple weeks to get hot though. It’s best to be pessimistic about him and Carmona though
I see that Teahan’s hitting .125 this spring and Omar’s at .154 for the White Sox. Pierre’s at .278. Andruw Jones though is hitting .385, for some reason I doubt he’ll keep that up. I really hope that team crashes and burns for some reason. Perhaps mostly because Hoynes kept referring to their free agent pickups as if they were GOOD things that the Indians should emulate (which Shapiro then did by signing Branyan)–while all I see is they’re trying hard to be the Mets of the American League. Speaking of Russell I have to hope that he doesn’t make it back, they should release him and hope he signs with another team so they can get some of the money back, even if he gets to the point where he’s capable of playing I imagine he’ll still be severely hampered swinging the bat and immobile in the field. The Indians seem to have a strange view of the way injuries affect a player’s performance, we’ve seen this when they trotted out Hafner, Victor and Sizemore as shells of themselves the past 2 years … I’d mostly agree with your bench and bullpen AM (minus Kearns, I’d take Shelley Duncan if Branyan can’t go and Brantley’s out of the equation), but Rafael Perez isn’t a situational lefty. His stuff plays well against right handers, his K/BB is actually much better against RH, while his other career numbers are about the same. Last year it was the lefties who torched him, batting .412 … RHB only hit .277

I’m not a big fan of Kearns either but he’s an Acta guy, a right-handed bat who can apparently play CF if need be and would likely be a two to four week filler for Branyan to get healthy enough to at least pick up a bat.

As for R. Perez, my desire to start his out as a situational lefty is simply to ease him back into a positive role grounded in confidence. I agree with a point that LACF made some time ago that this is a pivotal year for him, and obviously Carmona as well.

Joe Smith should NEVER face a left-handed hitter until he gets his changeup figured out.

Paul Hoynes is a goofball.

AM, I was just about to post the same exact bench as you did. I figure with Peralta’s future uncertain and LaPorta getting the occasional day off, Marte should get a good look.
I was convinced of Grudz, but I think Bixler might have a shot. I would expect to see a lot more of him in the next few days. Push comes to shove, though, I’m sticking with Grudz for experience.
I like Judy a lot, too, but I’d be surprised if he gets a chance in the majors over Lewis. If I’m not mistaken (and I think we all know that I often am), I believe he’s yet to pitch in AAA, and just made the jump to AA last year. I would think they’d start him in Columbus, if nothing else.
I will say this much: I never expect us to have a spring training like this, even if it IS just spring training. This team is bursting with potential, that’s for sure.

I see they just sent Judy to the minors. If they had thoughts at contending I think they’d have to take either Judy or Rondon to the bullpen … as it stands who knows, maybe one of those guys will be called up a couple weeks into the season. At least Judy’s probably assumed his proper place above Todd in the minor league depth chart. We’ll see how Jensen Lewis does. Wright and Rivera don’t look too bad, but I don’t see them sticking around all year either. Bixler was also sent down, he wasn’t in the running for the utility job, that Hernandez guy is in the running and probably has a good shot, Acta must like him to have picked him up. If Hernandez is the utility player, not sure where that leaves Grudz: do they take Grudz over Valbuena? I hope that doesn’t happen. I haven’t seen it mentioned as serious possibility by anyone except Tony at IPI, who seemed to think that IS what they’re going to do … I don’t actually think they need to take Kearns and Crowe. Laporta can start in the outfield whether Branyan’s ready or not. Again if Brantley’s not in the picture I’d rather have Marte at 1st and Laporta in the outfield, than Crowe or Kearns starting. I was wondering if there’s something wrong with Marte though because I don’t think he’s played the last couple games, but I see they sent Duncan down so unless Branyan does come around I’d think that Marte’s in … Unless Kearns keeps on hitting I’d still take Crowe as a 4th outfielder, his speed and defense off the bench is a big plus. Kearns doesn’t really upgrade any aspect of the game if you sub him in. … Off the subject, I’m wondering if the Mariners should be concerned about their big pitching acquisition. Two things Cliff Lee struggled with in the past were controlling his emotions and abdominal strains, he’s already been suspended for throwing at a guy in spring training, and he now has an abdominal injury they claim will leave him out a week, but the last time he had that injury was spring of ’07, and we know how that turned out.

I just had my home remodeled with copper appliances and I have not been back for over 3 months. My job has me traveling all over the world, and I can’t wait to finally be home for an extended time. Copper Sinks

I believe it was ST who suggested that Wood’s “soreness” could somehow mysteriously linger on for weeks. Looks like he was right, 6-8 weeks to be exact. download macgruber

I think Tiger Woods is indeed faking it. Athletic Towels

It appears that Tiger’s ranking is dropping like a rock. He would not be getting so sick if he was using MonoFoil Antimicrobial.

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