"In the room where fortune falls"

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

rallybuck.jpgIf you’re scoring at home, the official attendance tally at today’s home opener was 42,061 fans and one fake buck.

That’s him on the right. It’s the “Rally Buck,” brought to the Tribe clubhouse by backup catcher Mike Redmond.

The buck is an archery target. His belly is filled with holes left behind by arrows that hit their mark. (This is where the negative among you are supposed to insert some lame joke about the ones that didn’t hit their mark scooting past Lou Marson.)

The buck stops here, ostensibly, to inspire some good luck for the 2010 season.

“I might throw a uniform on him,” Redmond joked.

Alas, the buck luck was nowhere to be found in today’s, 4-2 loss to the Rangers. But the minutiae flows freely, all the same.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…

  • Not sure how serious this Grady Sizemore back issue is, but anything serious enough to pull him out of the home opener is nothing to scoff at. That said, manager Manny Acta is also taking advantage of Tuesday’s off day to give Grady three consecutive days off, so we’ll see if he’s back in there Wednesday.
  • Fausto Carmona went eight innings today and became the first Tribe starter to see the seventh inning this year. The early exits in the first week put a tax on the bullpen, but pitching coach Tim Belcher didn’t sound overly concerned. “If the bullpen’s not getting the ball until the sixth or seventh, then seven [relievers] is more than enough to get it done,” he said. “But one inning can make a huge difference. Going to the bullpen in the fifth versus the sixth changes the whole dynamic.” That’s only happened once so far, on Opening Day.
  • Closer Kerry Wood (strained back muscle) threw a 20-pitch bullpen session off a mound before today’s game. Still too early to say when, exactly, you can expect Wood to return. But pitching coach Tim Belcher said the Indians still hadn’t decided whether Wood would even have to go out on a rehab assignment in the Minors. Wood is scheduled to throw another bullpen on Thursday.
  • Meanwhile, temporary closer Chris Perez said his performance the past two days has been “unacceptable” and admitted he’s not long for the closer role if this keeps up. He’s been falling behind in the count, just as he did in spring camp.
  • Russell Branyan (lower back rehab) was in Columbus’ lineup against Louisville today, at first base. He also played last Thursday at DH and Saturday at first base.
  • In the ninth inning today, Rangers closer Neftali Feliz caught Redmond looking on a called strike three that was clocked at 101 mph. Even if you assume the standard mph-bump that comes with these ballpark boards, that’s some serious heat. “He’s got a great arm,” Redmond said. “And I’m sure he was pumped up and put a little extra on that one.”
  • Poor Redmond got all kinds of beat up in the fifth. A Carmona fastball hit him in the left knee when Taylor Teagarden pulled back a bunt attempt, and three other pitches were fouled off and hit him in the knee, shin or groin. “I’ve gone through 13 years of this,” Redmond said. “It’s my own fault. I signed up to be a catcher. Unfortunately, I love it.”
  • Shin-Soo Choo hit his first homer of the season Sunday. “Better than a strikeout,” he said. Choo knows strikeouts a little too well so far, as he logged nine of them in his first 21 at-bats. His No. 1 goal for improvement this season was to keep his strikeout total under 100, so the early showing frustrates him. “I’ve been over-swinging too much and swinging at bad pitches,” he said. “In Spring Training, I didn’t swing at bad pitches.” Not long after he said this, Choo took the field and punched one out again, taking Rich Harden deep for a solo shot in the first. Choo had a nice day, aside from forgetting how many outs there were in the third.
  • Luis Valbuena’s grand slam Sunday was the only one in the AL in the season’s first week.
  • Umpire Joe West called the pace of last week’s Yankees-Red Sox games “pathetic” and “embarrassing.” Acta, for one, said he has no problems with MLB’s pace. “I follow all the rules about pace of game,” he said. “I like baseball because of its pace. I like that I can go to the restroom between innings. I like that there’s not a stopwatch. I don’t see anyone leaving their seats at those Yankees-Red Sox games, or at the Cubs’ games.”
  • Triple-A Columbus catcher Carlos Santana’s season is off to a scorching start, and he’s got the first International League Batter of the Week award of 2010 to show for it. Santana hit .438 with four homers, eight RBIs, six extra-base hits, a 1.313 slugging percentage and 21 total bases in his first four games at the Triple-A level.
  • Nick “The Canuck with Pluck” Weglarz hit a fourth-inning grand slam in Double-A Akron’s win over Binghamton on Sunday. He’s batting .400 with two homers in the early going.
  • Lonnie Chisenhall went 8-for-16 in the Aeros’ season-opening series.
  • Left-hander T.J. House struck out 10 Winston-Salem batters in five innings of work for Class A Kinston on Sunday.
  • Our old friend Ryan Garko is here with the Rangers, who picked him up when the Mariners cut him loose on waivers a few weeks back. Garko will probably be in the lineup against David Huff on Thursday. This is his first trip back to Cleveland since he was traded last July. “It’s great to be back,” he said. “I have a lot of great memories, and it’s great to see the guys. I loved it here. We won a lot of games…I played hard and left it on the field, but it will be weird coming out of the other dugout.”
  • Today was the 110th home opener in Tribe history. The club is 58-52 all-time in home openers.
  • Bob Feller threw out the ceremonial first pitch before today’s game, commemorating the 70th anniversary of his Opening Day no-hitter against the White Sox on April 16, 1940. Feller leads the franchise with four wins in home openers.
  • The Indians were 1-8 against the Rangers in 2009.
  • New Browns president Mike Holmgren was at today’s game. He got a rousing round of applause from the crowd when shown on the scoreboard. He also had a nice view of Travis Hafner barreling into Teagarden on a play at the plate in the seventh, with Teagarden somehow managing to hold onto the ball. So if either of those guys is the seventh overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, now you know why.
  • You think there are some fair-weather folks in the stands on Opening Day? You should see the press box. It was quite a horde that filed into manager Manny Acta’s office after today’s game, as every newspaper and TV station from here to Terre Haute was credentialed. “I expect to see all of you on Wednesday,” Acta joked when the interview was over.

~AC

11 Comments

You know — and I realize that Perez didn’t blow the 9th again — but I feel like it’s going to be a long year for guys like Westbrook, Carmona, Sizemore, Hafner, and Peralta, not coincidentally guys who were on the ’07 team. There are going to be a lot of games where the youngsters — or guys holding spots for a year for guys coming up (*cough* Wright *cough*) — do something that upends otherwise great performances by the guys who have already made it.

Good to have you back today, Castro. I really missed your heartbreaking tweets on Sunday after the Perez brothers blew up for a combined ERA of like a million. All kidding aside… keep up the great work!

Scott Lewis had a good game, 6 innings, 2 hits and 10 Ks. How about we replace the entire major league bullpen with the Columbus starting staff?

This stinks. I tell myself not to get to frustrated, but watching them fall behind in the count is terrible. Didn’t Tim Belcher tell them in that meeting this spring how important it is to throw strikes?:(

Nice to see Fausto pitch well. You know he’s capable of this. Lets hope he doesn’t get complacent as the season wears on.

It is still so strange not to see Wedge twitching like he’s going through heavy withdrawl in the dugout closeups.

what’s concerning to me is the lack of our hitters to work the count. Other than Peavy and Verlander’s start we haven’t accomplished this at all through the first 7 games.

Buehrle: 95 PC in 7.0 IP, 3 SO
Peavy: 106 PC in 5.0 IP, 5 SO
Floyd: 105 PC in 6.0 IP, 7 SO
Porcello: 87 PC, 5.0 IP, 3 SO
Bondermann: 91 PC, 5.0 IP, 5 SO
Verlander: 97 PC, 5.0IP, 3 SO
Harden: 104 PC, 6.0 IP, 2 SO

The strikeouts are are still a glaring statistic.

I’m more concerned about the 45 walks in 7 games. That’s 6+ walks a game! That’s absolutely insane that we’re walking that many guys.

I’m personally concerned about the Rally Buck idea, as if that catches on they’ll use it like the Angels do that stupid monkey.

As for the team I like that Acta left Carmona out there longer than the announcers thought he would, and he was able to rise to the occassion. That just boosts his confidence.

I’m in favor of trading away Peralta when Branyan is ready, putting him over at 3rd, and seeing what we can do on offense then. Jhonny still seems like he’s sleeping most of the time.

Branyan’s not really a third baseman, though. Besides, Peralta’s going to have to increase his value for us to deal him.
But he’s not the only guy in the line-up hitting under .200 at this point in the season, and the other guy (not Redmond) is going to be the one who gets moved for Branyan.
Yeah, I’d love to see Brantley step up, but if he’s still hitting .174 a week from now, I don’t see him sticking around, particularly given the clock issue. For that matter, while I rather loathe the idea of moving LaPorta to the outfield, we could probably use Branyan in the line-up right now.

Branyan can throw and miss balls just as much as Jhonny can. He came up as a 3B didn’t he? I’m not saying he’s great, but maybe he’d make that throw on Sunday. I’m not upset at Jhonny’s offense yet, as he always starts slow. I also don’t get all hyped on someone’s high or low average or ERA at this point in the season – it’s way too early. Yet, our D has to be strong in order to get wins and we need to have to take advantage of the opportunities given on offense. So far that hasn’t happened.

Right now I trust in Acta and hope that he’ll guide the team well. He’s already shown something with leaving Carmona in, by going and getting Perez quickly, etc. (Wedge would have let him struggle more and completely blow up) Now will he show us something by sitting a struggling player, one who makes a bone head play, etc.?

Branyan can play 3rd, yes. But it makes no sense to move him there, as, at the very least, they need to showcase Jhonny as a trade option.
Average doesn’t matter much this early, true, but it does for a guy like Brantley, who is literally on a clock.
Branyan can also play the outfield, so I’d be interested to see if maybe they decide to get him some work there at the AAA level. I don’t know how his skills in the OF compare to his abilities at first, but I really dislike the idea of moving LaPorta.

I agree, don’t move LaPorta from first. Question is if the back issues would allow Branyan to play anywhere else anyway. I hear you on Peralta, but at this point I’d dump him for a bucket of balls just to let him go. He just seems, to those of us on the outside at least, to have no real fire.

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