This one's worth reading, Jeff in Pittsburgh. Click here.
By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
Today’s headline goes out to reader Jeff B. in Pittsburgh, who wrote me a nice note explaining that while he enjoys and appreciates these blog entries, my penchant for using song lyrics and “Seinfeld” quotes in the headlines aren’t especially helpful to him, personally.
Jeff is like many of you, I imagine, in that he subscribes to CastroTurf’s RSS feed. And in his RSS reader, he sees only the headline. So when I use a quote in the headline, it is difficult for Jeff to determine whether the entry is worthy of being clicked on.
Loyal readers like Jeff are the reason I gives this blog my best effort, day after day, season after season. Far be it from me not to cater to his wishes, especially on such a momentous occasion as Opening Day. So I hope today’s headline served him well.
And if not, well, here are a few more notes to peruse as the Indians and White Sox get things started.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…
- Luis Valbuena is out of today’s lineup with a bruised right hand, but Manny Acta said his condition was “playable” and that the Indians were merely being conservative. “Our medical staff is pleased with his progress,” Acta said.
- Acta stressed that although Valbuena had a rough spring camp, he remains the regular at second base and will not be a part of a platoon at the position. Last year, Jamey Carroll spelled Valbuena pretty much whenever a left-hander was on the mound. But Acta said the Indians will use Mark Grudzielanek “as we see fit.” We’ll see what that means and how this develops over time, but Acta has said in the past that he’s not in the business of grooming 24-year-olds to be platoon guys, so that bodes well for Valbuena getting the opportunity against left-handers, once he’s healthy.
- Jake Westbrook is getting the Opening Day start, despite missing all of last season. How rare is this? Well, in the context of the 2010 season, It’s not all that rare at all, as both Ben Sheets (A’s) and Shaun Marcum (Blue Jays) are also starting the opener for their teams despite missing ’09. But in the context of history, this is actually pretty rare, indeed. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it had only happened to four pitchers in the last 50 years — Carl Pavano (’07, Yankees), Scott Erickson (’02, Orioles), Alex Fernandez (’99, Marlins) and Diego Segui (’77 Mariners).
- Westbrook’s last start was May 28, 2008, also against the White Sox. Only two players from the Tribe’s starting lineup that day are in today’s lineup — Grady Sizemore and Jhonny Peralta.
- This year marks the 70th anniversary of Bob Feller’s Opening Day no-hitter against the White Sox — the only Opening Day no-no in MLB history. It came on April 16, 1940 at Comiskey Park. Feller in attendance for today’s game as a guest of the Chicago Baseball Museum and the Jerome Holtzman Library. The museum will have a luncheon tribute to Rapid Robert on Tuesday at Harry Caray’s Restaurant. I’ll have a full feature on Feller’s no-hitter on Indians.com, closer to the actual anniversary.
- Asdrubal Cabrera gets his first Opening Day start at short. Trivia time: Can you remember the last person not named Peralta or Vizquel to serve as the Indians’ Opening Day starter at that position? Answer to come a little later.
- Early in spring camp, Acta stressed the importance of getting off to a strong start this season, and today he added that winning early would help ease tensions from a fan base that was “turned off” by what transpired the last two years. But Acta also said the Indians are no different from the other 29 clubs. “Every one of us wants to have a good start. No one ways, ‘We want a slow start.’ … All you can do is have a plan and see if it works or not.”
- This is the fifth time in the last six years that the Indians and White Sox are facing each other on Opening Day. Only one of those meetings came in Cleveland.
- The Indians have lost five of their last seven openers, yet they have the fifth-best Opening Day winning percentage among current AL teams. They are 57-52 all-time, trailing the Yankees (63-45-1), Orioles (62-46-1), Mariners (18-15) and Angels (26-23).
- The Tribe has opened on the road eight of the last nine years.
- Westbrook and Mark Buehrle also faced each other on Opening Day 2005 in a memorable pitcher’s duel. Westbrook was a hard-luck loser, as he went eight innings and gave up just one run. Buehrle blanked the Tribe for eight innings.
- The Indians have used a different Opening Day first baseman each of the last six years (Ben Broussard, Eduardo Perez, Casey Blake, Ryan Garko, Victor Martinez, Matt LaPorta), and they’ve used a different Opening Day third baseman each of the last five years (Aaron Boone, Andy Marte, Casey Blake, Mark DeRosa, Peralta).
- The Indians are taking a 15-game road losing streak into this season.
- Among AL teams, the Indians ranked 12th in batting average, 13th in slugging percentage and 10th in OPS in the first six innings of the game. From the seventh inning on, they tied for third in batting average and finished fifth in slugging percentage and fourth in OPS.
- Answering the trivia question, that shortstop was Felix Fermin, in 1993.
- I love an underdog as much as the next guy, but tonight I’m rooting for recent E Street Radio guest DJ Mike Krzyzewski, who impressed me with such rare selections as “Then She Kissed Me,” “Back in Your Arms” and “Viva Las Vegas.” Let’s go Duke.