"Surprise, surprise, come on open your eyes"
By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
A few items of interest as I watch newly minted rotation member Mitch Talbot take one on the chin in Surprise Stadium…
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…
- Russell Branyan got four plate appearances as a DH in a Triple-A game against Louisville this afternoon. He went 2-for-3 with a home run and a walk. “Pretty good for the first day,” Acta said. “He came out feeling fine.” Branyan is expected to play in the field at first base his next time out.
- Mark Grudzielanek, the odds-on favorite to claim a utility job in which he’d spell Luis Valbuena at second base against certain (if not all) left-handers, is expected to be back in the lineup Thursday for the split-squad game in Tempe, against the Angels. Grudzielanek tweaked his right hamstring Sunday morning and hasn’t appeared in a game since.
- Shin-Soo Choo bounced around the outfield spots a little bit (20 games in left, one game in center) last year, but that won’t be the case in 2010. “Choo’s not moving around,” Acta said. “Unless there’s a big-time necessity, he’ll be playing right field every day.” The Indians will be able to use Michael Brantley and/or Austin Kearns and/or Trevor Crowe to fill in when Grady Sizemore gets a day off.
- Speaking of Choo, if you were holding out hope (however faint) of a long-term deal with the Indians this spring, don’t hold your breath. That’s too much holding for one person to handle, anyway.
- That above link is part of a new “All Access Beat” format we’re trying on the MLB.com club sites. It’s essentially a notebook, with separate little items on the same page. The ones of utmost importance will be linked on the Indians.com homepage. That will be a good source for all the long-form news, notes and minutiae of the upcoming season. And I’ll still be blogging here, too, of course.
- At some point, the Indians have to start getting concerned about some of the things they’re seeing in the bullpen this spring. Closer Chris Perez has 10 walks in 9 1/3 innings, left-hander Tony Sipp has seven walks and a 7.71 ERA in seven innings, and Joe Smith has eight walks and a 5.19 ERA in 8 2/3 innings. Rafael Perez was pretty effective at preventing runs before a rough one against the Dodgers last night, but he’s walked eight guys in 9 1/3 innings.
- Sipp said this is the worst spring camp he’s ever had, in terms of performance. But he’s encouraged by how good his arm feels after all the problems he endured on the road to the big leagues. “Mentally, this has been a productive spring for me,” he said. “I finally came in healthy. I’m still looking forward to the season.” Acta said Sipp “hasn’t had a good Spring Training,” but that doesn’t change anything with regard to the bullpen spot that is assured to him. “This guy had a dominant second half in the big leagues last year,” Acta said. “I’m new, but that still has to count for something.”
- Valbuena is in similar standing. He has not lost hold of his starting second base job, despite entering tonight’s game batting .222 with a .595 OPS in 36 at-bats. “Defensively, he’s played well,” Acta said. “He hasn’t swung the bat the way he did last year. But he didn’t come to camp to compete for a spot. He came to camp as our second baseman.” And he’ll leave that way. “I’m not going to surprise you guys with two days left,” Acta said with a smile.
- Does a 16-7 record in exhibition play mean anything? Well, sure it does. At least, in Acta’s eyes. “If our record was horrible, everybody would be saying horrible things about us,” Acta said. “When you win and play good, it’s good for the soul and it’s good for the confidence of the young kids.”
- For the season-opening series in Chicago, it will be Jake Westbrook vs. Mark Buehrle on Monday, Fausto Carmona vs. Jake Peavy on Wednesday and Justin Masterson vs. Gavin Floyd on Thursday.
- Matt LaPorta’s looking for your help with his at-bat music. The best I could come up with is “This Little Light of Mine.”