4/20: Indians at Twins
By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
Greetings from brand-spanking-new Target Field, where the Indians and Twins will kick off a three-game series at 8:10 p.m. ET.
My feelings about this place haven’t changed since I toured it last September. It has jumped near the top of my list of Major League facilities, ahead of that behemoth they built in the Bronx. Those of you prone to pilgrimages need to check it out.
As far as the lineup is concerned, Russell Branyan is set to make his 2010 debut, with Austin Kearns notably starting in left field over Matt LaPorta. LaPorta is taking fly balls in the outfield for the first time pregame today.
INDIANS (6-6): SS Cabrera, CF Sizemore, RF Choo, DH Hafner, 3B Peralta, 1B Branyan, LF Kearns, 2B Valbuena, C Marson. RHP Justin Masterson (1-0, 2.45).
TWINS (9-3): CF Span, 2B Hudson, C Mauer, 1B Morneau, RF Cuddyer, DH Kubel, LF Young, SS Hardy, 3B Harris. RHP Kevin Slowey (1-1, 3.48).
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…
- Thursday’s game between the Tribe and Twins will be on the MLB Network. Previously, it wasn’t scheduled to air in Cleveland.
- Manny Acta said activating Branyan today was the “plan all along.” He had told reporters last week that the Indians wanted to see Branyan play back-to-back days at first base in the Minors, but he made it clear he said that so that we wouldn’t be bothering Michael Brantley about the imminent possibility of getting sent down. That’s all well and good, I suppose, but the notion of having Branyan play in consecutive games before activating him off the DL didn’t seem like the worst idea in the world. Obviously, the Indians are confident in the condition of Branyan’s back.
- That said, Branyan is not ready to tolerate more than four games a week, Acta said. So you’ll probably be seeing Matt LaPorta bounce back and forth between left field and first base. LaPorta, as you know, has not only not played a game in left field this year; he hadn’t taken so much as a fly ball at the position before today’s pregame activity. Acta said LaPorta will get some work at the position again on Wednesday and play Thursday.
- Brantley had a stellar spring camp, and he has a lot to look forward to at the big-league level. But the need for some more development time was pretty glaring the first couple weeks up here. All of his hits — and there were only five of them in 24 at-bats — came against right-handed pitching. Acta said the Indians could have kept Brantley up here in a part-time role, but there’s obviously not much sense in that.
- Speaking of performances against lefties, Grady Sizemore is batting .056 (1-for-18) with five strikeouts.
- Kerry Wood (strained back muscle) threw to live hitters today and felt good. He’ll either throw another simulated game Thursday or head out on a rehab assignment in the Minors. Acta made it clear he wants Wood to pitch in some games before joining the Tribe, because he only appeared in two games this spring.
- The All-Star ballots were released today, and you’d have to imagine Shin-Soo Choo will get some votes after his AL Player of the Week heroics. Choo won a watch from Game Time Watch Shop for his efforts. “When I won Player of the Month in Sept. 2008, I got a 52-inch TV [from Sharp],” Choo said. “I still use it.”
- Entering tonight, Choo has either scored or driven in 48.9 percent of the Indians’ runs. So, yeah, you could say he’s a big reason they got back to .500.
- But how about the pitching? The Indians have been outscored 50-45, but they have, entering tonight, the fourth-best starters’ ERA in the AL (3.40), and their bullpen has allowed just three of 29 inherited runners to score (leading the AL and ranking second in the Majors).
- The Cleveland Indians Charities High School Hardball Classic takes place Friday and Saturday at Progressive Field. For more information on the six games, visit indians.com/community.
- Tonight marks the Indians’ first outdoor game in Minnesota since a May 10, 1981, game at Metropolitan Stadium. I was negative-11 days old.
- I could write thousands of words about the various features that make Target Field such a wonderful place to watch a game, but all of that is available elsewhere. What I do want to tell you about covering a game here is that my favorite feature has to be the men’s restroom in the press box? Why? Because it actually is a men’s restroom… with multiple urinals and everything. At the Metrodome, the press box bathroom was a unisex unit with one toilet and a door that may or may not have locked.