June 2010

6/30: Indians vs. Blue Jays

Tonight’s 7:05 p.m. ET game at Progressive Field is on WTAM and STO. I’ll be on the STO pregame show at 6:45 p.m.

Jason Donald is back after missing the last four games with an injured left wrist.


cle4.gifINDIANS (29-47):
CF Crowe, RF Choo, C Santana, DH Hafner, LF Kearns, 3B Peralta, 1B LaPorta, 2B Hernandez, SS Donald. LHP Aaron Laffey (0-2, 6.37).

 

 

 


tor3.gifBLUE JAYS (40-38):
LF Lewis, SS Gonzalez, RF Bautista, CF Wells, C Buck, 1B Overbay, DH Hill, 2B Green, 3B Hoffpauir. RHP Jesse Litsch (0-2, 8.78).

6/29: Indians vs. Blue Jays

Tonight’s 7:05 p.m. ET game is on WTAM and STO.

Jason Donald remains out of the lineup after injuring his left wrist Friday, but he is doing all pregame work. Tomorrow, he’ll get checked out by Dr. Thomas Graham, who will be in to do a routine check on Asdrubal Cabrera’s progress. The Indians still don’t view Donald’s injury as serious, and manager Manny Acta said he is playable. He’s just being cautious.


cle2.gifINDIANS (28-47):
CF Crowe, RF Choo, C Santana, DH Hafner, 3B Peralta, LF Duncan, 1B LaPorta, 2B Nix, SS Hernandez. RHP Fausto Carmona (6-6, 3.64).

 

 

 


tor2.gifBLUE JAYS (40-37):
LF Lewis, SS Gonzalez, RF Bautista, CF Wells, DH Lind, 2B Hill, 1B Overbay, C Molina, 3B McDonald. RHP Brandon Morrow (5-5, 4.50).

"I need a nickname that makes people light up."

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

santana3.jpgCarlos Santana is already 17 days and four homers into his Major League career. I’ve put this off too long. It’s time to give this kid an Official Nickname.

Those of you regularly reading the Indians Inbox (which better be all of you, or else something is askew here) know that the nickname “Smooth” was, at one time, bestowed upon Santana by several readers, only to be rejected by yours truly.

Not that I’m necessarily the final arbiter in these matters, by any means, but my job here is to give voice to the voiceless, to survey the landscape of voices in the wilderness and come to some reasonable conclusion on the pulse of the fanbase on any given topic. And really, what more important topic is there than the Carlos Santana nickname? None that I can think of.

Several nicknames for Santana are currently floating in the Internet stratosphere, but he can only have one, true nickname that will stick, and I’m taking it upon myself to be the one to select it. (Note: I was going to make this a poll, but when learning how to post a poll into this blog became overly complicated and time-consuming I decided to take a more dictatorial approach.)

Only two rules applied:

1. The nickname must tie in to that other Carlos Santana, somehow.
2. It can’t be “Smooth,” because that’s as overplayed and annoying a song as has ever been created.

So without any further ado, here are the results:

Second runner-up… “Shaman” (Submitted by John C., from Chicago.)

References Santana’s 2002 solo disc. John C. who claims to have been at one of Shin-Soo Choo’s first games with the Tribe and held up a sign that said “Big League Choo,” a fantastic nickname that happily stuck. Sadly, I don’t see the same fate for “Shaman.”

First runner-up… “Black Magic Backstop” (Submitted by Jim K. from Youngstown.)

Strong submission. References Santana’s most classic hit. Love the alliteration. Just don’t see it lasting over the long haul, especially when Santana starts playing the occasional game at first base.

And the winner is… “Supernatural” (Submitted by Scott H. from Mountain View, Calif., Paul T. from Cuyahoga Falls and Mike L. from Tallahassee, Fla.)

Hopefully this appeases those who submitted “Smooth,” as the hit single is included on this 1999 disc. You’ve got the alliterative element when you place this before Santana’s name, and you’ve got an apt description of this kid’s abilities. I love it, and I hope you love it, too.

Now on to less important matters.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…

  • Michael Brantley’s coming soon to a Progressive Field near you. “He’s close,” Manny Acta said. The last time Acta said that about a Triple-A guy, he was talking about Carlos Santana. Mr. Supernatural was here the next day. I’m not saying Brantley will be here tomorrow, necessarily, but he’s showing the Indians the things they wanted to see – namely, notching some extra-base hits, playing solid defense in center field and using his speed. Brantley has hit and scored in each of his last six games, batting .464 (13-for-28) with three doubles, a homer, eight RBIs and eight runs. In 21 June games, Brantley is batting .352 (31-for-88) with four doubles, a triple, two homers, 13 RBIs and 14 runs scored while walking 10 times against just eight strikeouts. Consider that before June, Brantley had just six extra-base hits in about a month and a half of action with the Clippers. That lack of power was the biggest knock against him, and he’s addressing it.
  • The addition of Ezequiel Carrera in the Russell Branyan trade adds another body to the Columbus outfield and probably emphasizes the fact that Brantley will be here soon. Carrera will report to Columbus in a week to 10 days, once he’s healed from the hip pointer that currently has him on the disabled list.
  • Obviously, the Indians are looking into the possibility of trading Austin Kearns, which would open up everyday playing time for Brantley up here. Kearns hasn’t down much to help the showcase, as he’s batting .163 (8-for-49) with two RBIs in his last 13 games.
  • The other day, I told you shortstop Josh Rodriguez had been bumped to Double-A Akron to make room for the demoted Luis Valbuena at Triple-A Columbus. Well, that didn’t last long. Rodriguez is back in Columbus after just two games with the Aeros. He will share time with Valbuena at short, while also contributing at DH and in the outfield. Rodriguez is having a strong year, batting .317 with an .881 OPS in 21 games in Akron and .341 with a 1.031 OPS in 26 games in Columbus.
  • Kerry Wood needed that 1-2-3, three-punchout save Sunday against the Reds. And the Indians needed it, too, if they’re going to have any hope of trading Wood, who has not attracted any interest thus far. Wood could hardly be blamed if he wants to pitch himself out of here, given the circumstances. “We all want to win,” he said. “We all want to get to the World Series. I wanted it to happen in Cleveland, but it hasn’t worked out. My job is to go out and do the best I can to help us win the game.”
  • Hearing our old buddy Sal “The ‘Stache” Fasano (now that’s a nickname) is an early candidate to replace Cito Gaston, who is retiring as manager of the Jays at season’s end. Because CastroTurf was once billed as the “Official Web Site of Sal Fasano,” you better believe I’m pulling for Sal to get the gig. He’s currently managing the Jays’ Class A affiliate Lansing Lugnuts in the Midwest League.
  • Acta thinks “Big League” Choo is starting to benefit from batting in front of Santana. He said there was a time, not long ago, when opposing pitchers had no reason to give Choo anything to hit.
  • Before Choo did it against Bronson Arroyo, no Major Leaguer had posted a pair of multiple-homer games against the same pitcher in one season since San Diego’s Mike Cameron did it against the Cubs’ Rich Hill in 2007. Choo is the only player to do it in Interleague Play. (Elias Sports Bureau) 
  • Right-hander Shane Lindsay, designated when Jayson Nix was added to the roster, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Akron. Lindsay has a 2.08 ERA in four relief appearances for Akron in June.
  • Mitch Talbot’s eight wins lead all Major League rookies. His 2.39 ERA on the road is the third-best in the league.
  • The Indians went 5-13 in Interleague Play. They are now 118-129 all-time and 16-38 over the last three years. Certainly bucking a trend, as the AL earned the edge in the season series for the seventh straight year.
  • Hector Ambriz’s UCLA Bruins are battling South Carolina in the College World Series. “I think they’re going to do it,” Ambriz said. “It would be the first national championship in UCLA [baseball] history. We’ve got to win it for Wooden.”
  • Congrats to Terry Grahl for being named the Indians’ representative when the “All-Stars Among Us” are honored before the All-Star Game. Grahl is actually from Michigan, but she made up for it by founding Enchanted Makeovers, a non-profit that refurbishes shelters for women and children.

~AC

6/28: Indians vs. Blue Jays

Tonight’s 7:05 p.m. ET game is on WTAM and STO. It’s back to AL play, which means Travis Hafner is aboard. But Jason Donald remains on the pine with a jammed left wrist.


cle.gifINDIANS (27-47):
CF Crowe, RF Choo, C Santana, LF Kearns, DH Hafner, 3B Peralta, 1B LaPorta, 2B Nix, SS Hernandez. RHP Jake Westbrook (4-4, 4.90 ERA).

 

 

 


tor.gifBLUE JAYS (40-36):
LF Lewis, SS Gonzalez, RF Bautista, CF Wells, DH Lind, 2B Hill, 1B Overbay, C Buck, 3B Hoffpauir. LHP Ricky Romero (6-3, 2.84).

"Flyin' cross the land, tryin' to get a hand"

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

bieber.jpgThe Justin Bieber traveling circus pulled out of Cincinnati after rocking U.S. Bank Arena, next-door neighbor to Great American Ball Park, last night.

Next stop on the Bieber tour? Milwaukee, where the Mariners are in town playing the Brewers. That’s where Russell Branyan was headed, too. And if you can’t have fun conjuring up a scenario in which Branyan asks Bieber for a ride to Wisconsin, you’re not exploring the vast recesses of your imagination.

A number of prepubescent girls were in the lobby of my Cincy hotel late last night, recounting the dynamic stage presence and irresistible charm of young Bieber. When I asked one of them how the show was, she got all googly-eyed and swooned about Bieber “looking right at me.” She was in heaven. I get the same exact feeling when eating chicken parmigiana.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…

  • The Indians and Mariners first talked about Branyan around the time of the Draft. There were no talks for a couple weeks, and then the talks picked up again in the last few days. Though not overwhelming, the Indians appear to have gotten a decent return for Branyan, especially getting a 23-year-old with speed in Ezequiel Carrera. Could be a decent fourth outfielder type. But the main incentive, obviously, was to clear room for Matt LaPorta.
  • For Mark Shapiro’s take on Carrera and Juan Diaz, click here.
  • LaPorta attributed his upswing in performance at Columbus, which included five homers in three games in his first week with the Clippers, to the “law of averages.” Of course, there’s also the “law of Triple-A pitching.” But now that LaPorta knows he has not only an everyday role but also a fixed spot in the field, he should have more of a realistic chance to prove himself at this level.
  • Jason Donald’s hurt. He jammed his left wrist Friday night and has been out of the lineup the last two days. He didn’t do any pregame activity today. But head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff said Donald’s injury is not considered serious and he should be back in the lineup Monday against the Blue Jays.
  • As far as the trading is concerned, what happens from here? More gauging of the market and more hope that contenders find interest in Austin Kearns, Jhonny Peralta, Kerry Wood and Jake Westbrook. Kearns actually has attracted legit interest, but thus far the Indians’ asking price has been too high. They are valuing Kearns as an everyday outfielder while the teams they have talked to see him as more of a role player. The Red Sox, who lost Jacoby Ellsbury to fractured left ribs, have shown some interest in Kearns.
  • If you’re wondering how this Shapiro-to-Chris Antonetti transition is going to shake out, Antonetti will essentially be the active GM after the Trade Deadline. Right now, the conversations being conducted between the Indians and other clubs are headed by Shapiro, though Antonetti has obviously built up his share of relationships with other GMs and assistant GMs over the years, too. Once we get through the deadline, the handoff that has basically been taking place over the last few years should be complete.
  • Speaking of transition, a couple weeks back I told you the Indians will probably start working in Carlos Santana at first base at some point, just to have that position as an option to give him breaks from the wear and tear of catching. That’s not something they want to put on his plate this season, as he has enough to think about. But in Spring Training, he’ll probably begin taking groundballs at first. Keep in mind that Santana was originally a third baseman in the Dodgers’ system, so the acclimation at first shouldn’t be all that extreme.
  • Manny Acta can’t say enough good things about Santana. He said Santana is the best position prospect he’s ever seen arrive midseason. Just in the time since Spring Training, Acta and Sandy Alomar Jr. notice major strides by Santana, from a defensive standpoint. He’s had some issues blocking the plate, and that’s all part of learning. But his ability to control the running game has come better than advertised thus far.
  • The last few days, those of us on the beat have taken to mentioning that the Indians’ obvious flaws have all been exposed in NL ballparks. But Acta doesn’t think Interleague Play has anything to do with it. “Regardless of where you’re playing, baseball is baseball,” he said. “You have to execute.” So, essentially, Acta is saying that the Indians have played bad baseball and right now would be capable of losing in any park against any team. And on that point, I’d certainly have to agree with him.
  • Remember Travis Hafner? He’ll be back as a real, honest-to-goodness member of the lineup tomorrow, when the Indians finally get back to the AL baseball they signed up for. Pronk said he didn’t realize the Indians had a nine-game Interleague trip basically until it arrived. But he doesn’t bemoan the schedule-makers. “We were going to have nine games in an NL park, anyway,” he said.
  • Very little bright side last night, but Jayson Nix had a solid debut.
  • Today’s game began after an hour and a half rain delay that involved very little rain. There was some lightning cracking the sky above and beyond Great American Ball Park. The Reds erred on the side of caution and took a little of the getaway out of getaway day. Then the game started, with the rain falling. As Don Henley once sang, “The more I know, the less I understand.”

~AC

Branyan dealt to the Mariners

By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
http://castrovince.mlblogs.com

Russell Branyan is headed back to the Mariners, and Matt LaPorta is coming back to the big leagues.

The Indians pulled the trigger on the first of what could be several pre-Trade Deadline moves Saturday, sending Branyan back to the M’s in exchange for two prospects — Triple-A center fielder Ezequiel Carrera and High-A shortstop Juan Diaz.

The Indians will either pay the remainder of Branyan’s $2 million contract or send the M’s a player to be named later.

CORRECTION: Mark Shapiro said the Mariners will assume the rest of Branyan’s salary, and the Indians will be on the hook for the buyout of his mutual 2011 option, if the M’s opt not to exercise it. Otherwise, the Tribe will send a player to be named.

Clearly, the main incentive of this move, from the Indians’ perspective, is to give LaPorta an everyday opportunity at first base. He was batting .353 with five homers, 16 RBIs and a 1.061 OPS in 17 games since his June 7 demotion to Columbus.

But the Tribe also nets a pair of prospects. Carrera was involved in that three-team, 12-player monster of a trade involving the Indians, M’s and Mets at the 2008 Winter Meetings. A left-handed hitter with speed, the 23-year-old Carrera was batting .268 with a .654 OPS, nine steals six doubles, two triples and 18 RBIs in 64 games for Triple-A Tacoma. In six Minor League seasons, Carrera, a native of Venezuela, has hit .291 with a .750 OPS and 115 steals.

Diaz, a 21-year-old native of the Dominican Republic, was batting .295 with a .779 OPS, seven homers, eight doubles, three triples and 41 RBIs at High Desert. In five Minor League seasons, he’s hit .255 with a .668 OPS, 16 homers and 159 RBIs.

Carrera will head to Columbus, while Diaz is bound for Kinston.

As for the Mariners, not sure what they’re doing in the buyer’s market. They are 31-43 and 13 games back in the West.

More info at Indians.com.

"It's by an unknown 20th Century poet"

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

poetry.jpgSome woebegone Tribe fan e-mails Akron Beacon Journal beat reporter Sheldon Ocker with a daily poem about the Indians. The worse the team performs, the better this guy’s poetry gets. Today’s submission began, “20,000 leagues under the sea / Is where the Tribe ought to be.”

They’ll have to settle for being 20 games under .500.

Bad baseball, it seems, brings out the creative side in people. My friend Jeff sent me some suggestions for blog headlines that could have been used when the team was in Philadelphia. Keeping with the Springsteen lyric theme I employ so consistently here, he wanted to pull lines from, of course, “Streets of Philadelphia” that sum up the state of the club.

Among the options…

“I was bruised and battered, I couldn’t tell what I felt”

“Oh brother, are you gonna leave me wasting away?”

“I can feel myself fading away”

(Aside: There’s a Justin Bieber concert going on next door tonight. I’ve never heard any of his songs, but I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that none of them contain such downtrodden lyrics.)

Speaking of downtrodden, what a bummer of a road trip this has been for this ballclub. All of their flaws — and there are many — have been exposed in this NL environment.

But as bad as it’s been, one guy not writing snappy poetry or citing Springsteen’s less-uplifting material is Manny Acta. He said his current situation doesn’t begin to touch what he experienced in Washington last year.

“The difference is we have more pieces here,” Acta said. “We know the farm system is starting to produce the players we were anticipating to be here. There’s going to be a light at the end of the tunnel.”

That’s a little more of a traditional Springsteenian speech. The gospel of the chorus that offsets the blues of the verses.

Right now, however, the results are reading like bad poetry. For the good of all involved, even the bards, here’s hoping it turns around soon. 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…

  • Trade Deadline season is just about upon us. But it would be unwise to expect the Indians to make any major splashes, in terms of salary unloaded or prospects acquired. You need tradable commodities to make those kinds of rewards happen, and the Tribe isn’t going to move Fausto Carmona (contrary to rumor and speculation) or Shin-Soo Choo.
  • There has been only marginal interest in the likes of Austin Kearns, Russell Branyan and Jhonny Peralta (Kearns probably tops the list). There has been minimal to zero interest in Jake Westbrook and Kerry Wood. They’re making too much money and performing too inconsistently. Teams aren’t willing to absorb much in the way of salary, and teams value their young talent more than ever in this climate. The Indians, though, have great incentive to move Kearns and/or Branyan to make room for Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley, so I’d still expect something to get done, one way or another. Just don’t expect much in the way of returns.
  • As I type this, Shin-Soo Choo just drew a walk, stole second, then scored on a Carlos Santana double in the first inning. I talked with Choo the other day about his statistics, and he said the number he pays the most attention to is his on-base percentage. As the No. 2 hitter in this lineup, he knows the importance of getting on to set up RBI opportunities for Santana, Austin Kearns and Russell Branyan. Choo has not put up dominant numbers this year, but his .389 OBP, entering tonight, does rank 12th in the league.
  • Choo figures to be the Tribe’s lone All-Star representative when the rosters are announced July 4. Acta listed Fausto Carmona and Mitch Talbot as two other guys he feels are worthy, though Acta acknowledged that none of those guys have the numbers to match up with some others in the league. Choo said it would be a dream come true to be an All-Star, but he wishes his numbers were better so that he would be earning the opportunity, if selected, rather than just filling the Indians’ All-Star quota.
  • The domino effect of Jayson Nix coming aboard and Luis Valbuena going to Columbus was Josh Rodriguez getting transferred back to Akron. This is somewhat significant, as Rodriguez was batting .341 with a 1.031 OPS in 26 games for the Clippers after torching Double-A pitching.
  • While Aaron Laffey was getting beat up at Great American last night, Carlos Carrasco allowed three runs on eight hits, including two homers, with two walks and eight strikeouts in a win over Gwinnett to improve to 6-3 with a 4.26 ERA.
  • Nice to see Clippers manager Mike Sarbaugh, as good a guy as you’ll meet in this game, pick up his 500th career regular season victory with that win. Sarbaugh has won three Minor League championships (in the New York-Penn League in ’04, the Carolina League in ’05 and the Eastern League last year). He was also selected to be a coach for the USA team at next month’s XM All-Star Futures Game.
  • In Akron, Alex White took his fourth defeat despite not allowing an earned run in a 5-3 loss to Binghamton. White has a 1.77 ERA in seven Double-A starts, but he’s 2-4. He’s struck out 23 and walked 13 in 40 2/3 innings.
  • Our old buddy Brandon Phillips was in the Reds’ lineup tonight after an eventful night Friday. He was arrested in northern Kentucky for reckless driving after police clocked him at 72 mph in a 35-mph zone. His mother was in the car with him.
  • The D-backs’ Edwin Jackson became the fourth pitcher to toss a no-hitter this season (five, if you count Armando Galarraga… which I do). This is the first time since 1990 that as many as four no-hitters have been thrown in the Majors before the All-Star break. We’ve also had 12 no-hitters taken into the seventh inning before falling apart. This has, of course, led to the question of whether this trend has any significance or if it’s just coincidence. Acta, for one, is adamant that it’s a “pure coincidence.” His contention is that, at the beginning of the season, if you picked the names of guys you’d expect to toss a no-no, you might have been right on Roy Halladay but you never would have guessed Jackson or Dallas Braden. So to him, it’s all a coincidence.
  • I’d be inclined to argue the opposite point, which is that because guys you never would expect to throw no-hitters are throwing no-hitters, something strange is going on here. But I’ve been wrong before.
  • A bunch of players and coaches holed up in the lounge in the visitor’s clubhouse to watch Team USA get beat in the second round of the World Cup today. And Choo’s fellow South Koreans fell to Uruguay earlier in the day. Not a good day for soccer-supporting Tribesters, unless there’s a player from Ghana that I’m unaware of.
  • But a great day for Justin Bieber fans.

~AC

6/24: Indians at Phillies

It’s a scorcher in Philly. Temperatures expected to reach 97, with a heat index somewhere north of “convection oven.”

Today’s 1:05 p.m. ET game is on WTAM and STO.


cle8.gifINDIANS (26-44):
CF Crowe, RF Choo, C Santana, 1B Branyan, 3B Marte, LF Duncan, 2B Valbuena, SS Donald, RHP Fausto Carmona (6-5, 3.31).

 

 

 


phi3.gifPHILLIES (37-32):
CF Victorino, 3B Polanco, 2B Utley, 1B Howard, RF Werth, LF Ibanez, SS Valdez, C Sardinha, RHP Joe Blanton (2-5, 6.96).

"On the streets of Philadelphia"

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

philly.jpgYou can’t walk five feet in Philadelphia without running into some historical landmark. As a matter of fact, I’d be curious to see the number of historic landmark signs relative to the number of yield signs in this city.

(Note: I was going to say stop signs, but obviously no sign tally in a given town can compete with the stop sign tally. Yet I think the landmark tally could give the yield tally a run for its money here. And that’s a shame, because I kind of like the yield sign. It’s easily my favorite street sign. Why I have a favorite street sign is beyond me.)

Where was I? Ah, yes. Philadelphia. This morning, I made the very touristy decision to visit Independence Hall, where our Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 2, 1776. The document wasn’t read to the public until July 4. On the off chance you didn’t already know this fun fact, you now have permission to blow stuff up twice next weekend.

Other landmarks visited in Philadelphia today included the Liberty Bell Center and the “Rocky” steps at the Art Museum. I also walked by the U.S. Mint, which was a thrill. Big fan of Ice Breakers.

Anyway, here are tonight’s notes. And here’s the rest of the story from the City of Brotherly Love…

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…

  • The Indians entered tonight on pace for 101 losses this season. In a related story, Baseball Prospectus’ latest playoff odds report gives the Tribe a 2.6 percent chance of reaching the postseason. That sound high to you?
  • Interleague has been especially harsh on this Tribe team, which has dropped seven of eight against NL opponents. Manny Acta doesn’t believe there’s a correlation there, necessarily. “We just haven’t been playing good defense,” he said. “Right before [this stretch] we split a four-game series against a pretty good Red Sox team, then took two of three [from the Nationals]. It comes and goes. We’ll continue to be patient and teach and hope things will get better. We’re not about to feel sorry for ourselves.”
  • Aaron Laffey’s coming back. If, at the start of the season, you didn’t expect to see Laffey in the starting five by the All-Star break, you either overestimated the Tribe rotation, underestimated Laffey or didn’t waste your time thinking about these kinds of things. Laffey did not exactly dominate while being stretched out at Columbus, and he walked seven guys in his last start. He’s getting the nod over Carlos Carrasco because of his experience at this level. Acta says to expect to see Carrasco up here sooner rather than later, but for now they want him to continue to work on controlling the running game and establishing his fastball. All in all, a pretty disappointing depth situation at Columbus.
  • There was a report that No. 1 Draft pick Drew Pomeranz (No. 5 overall) is coming to Cleveland next week to take a physical and begin negotiations with the Indians. It’s my understanding that the negotiation process is expected to drag out all summer, but we’ll see. One domino might be close to falling in K.C., where the Royals are getting closer to signing No. 4 overall pick Christian Colon. The Indians have until Aug. 16 to sign Pomeranz.
  • If you had Ruben Niebla on your Major League Coaches fantasy squad, now would be the time to drop him. Niebla tore the patella tendon in his right knee when he slipped on the warning track while shagging fly balls during BP on Sunday and will have surgery next week. The Indians will bring in a replacement sometime in the next week. Among other duties, Niebla threw left-handed BP to Tribe hitters.
  • Third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall and catcher Chun Chen were named to the XM All-Star Futures Game rosters. The game will be held Sunday, July 11, at Angel Stadium.
  • Farm director Ross Atkins said Chisenhall’s shoulder condition will continue to be monitored, but the soreness that sent him do the DL last month appears to be behind him. Chisenhall continues to live up to the Tribe’s lofty expectations at the plate and in the field. “He’s everything we expect him to be,” Atkins said. “He’s one of the purest swingers we have, outside of Carlos Santana.” Atkins said Chisenhall has to continue to adjust his mental approach to the fact that he is and probably always will be one of the best hitters in the lineup and will therefore be pitched differently. In the field, Chisenhall made a seamless transition to third base from shortstop last year. “He’s as natural as any infielder we have,” Atkins said. “He shows no panic and a lot of ease. He has great hands and good feet.”
  • Chen was signed as an 18-year-old out of Taiwan in 2007. Simultaneously adjusting to pro ball and a new culture wasn’t always easy for Chen. Consider that Latin guys who make this move usually have a few teammates in the same boat. Chen wasn’t so fortunate, and nutrition was one area he had to adjust to. Not a lot of Taiwanese options in the clubhouse or in Eastlake, Ohio. But he’s made strides on the acclimation and performance fronts this year. He batted .318 with 30 doubles, six homers and 36 RBIs in the first half for Lake County.
  • Lefty Kelvin De La Cruz, at Double-A Akron, is one of the more prized arms in the system, but he’s had a rough return from last year’s elbow troubles. He gave up four runs on six hits with three walks and three strikeouts in five innings for a loss to Richmond last night. He’s now 1-4 with a 5.61 ERA.
  • rockythesquirrel.jpgRichmond, by the way, has one of my all-time favorite nicknames. The Flying Squirrels. Hokey smoke is that good.
  • Lake County outfielder Bo Greenwell, son of former Red Sox outfielder Mike Greenwell, went 3-for-4 with a double, an RBI, two runs scored and a stolen base in for the Eastern Division in a 6-2 victory over the West in last night’s Midwest League All-Star Game. Chen went 1-for-2.  Greenwell, by the way, is batting .310 with 13 doubles, four homers and 36 RBIs this season.
  • Speaking of All-Star Games, there is a brewing debate as to whether Stephen Strasburg (who struck out nine in a 1-0 loss to the Royals today) should be considered for the Midsummer Classic. MLB.com’s Mike Bauman (yes) and Hal Bodley (no) weighed in on this. Asked for how he’d handle the situation, if he were entrusted with selecting the All-Star roster, Acta declined comment. “I hope I get to the point where I’m picking the All-Star team,” he said.
  • After his session with reporters today, Acta was approached by a Spanish-language outlet. Acta asked for a few seconds between interviews. “Let me refocus my brain to speak Spanish,” he said.
  • In the dugout before today’s game was Gary “Sarge” Matthews, former Major League outfielder who does color commentary for the Phillies broadcasts. Matthews is known for his fedora collection. He and Acta compared notes on this shared area of expertise.
  • In case you missed it Monday, here’s the latest Indians Inbox.

~AC

6/23: Indians at Phillies

Tonight’s 7:05 p.m. ET game at Citizens Bank Park is on WTAM And STO. You can catch me on the STO pregame show.


cle2.gifINDIANS (26-43):
CF Crowe, RF Choo, C Santana, LF Kearns, 1B Branyan, 3B Peralta, 2B Valbuena, SS Donald, RHP Jake Westbrook (4-4, 4.76).

 

 

 


phi2.gifPHILLIES (36-32):
SS Rollins, 3B Polanco, 2B Utley, 1B Howard, RF Werth, LF Ibanez, CF Victorino, C Schneider, RHP Kyle Kendrick (4-2, 4.48).

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