"They're gonna know me wherever I go"
By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
There was an air hockey table in the recreation room where we spent our lunch periods at Euclid High School. It became the site of some legendary aerated action involving yours truly and my equally socially awkward friends. We created a championship belt and a bracket system, and I’ll never forget the patriotic fervor that erupted the day we pitted a guy named Gerald against a foreign exchange student named Philip. Chants of “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” echoed through the halls that afternoon.
And this was how it went, day in and day out, during my senior year. Until one day, a 15-year-old freshman who was roughly 6-foot-7, with hands the size of my Algebra 2 textbook, decided he wanted to get involved. The first one of us who took him on ended up leaving the table crying. (Not because he got beat, but because he had other, personal issues going on.) But the rest of us? We couldn’t figure this kid out. He had the reflexes of a cat on caffeine and a steely gaze that burned your soul and buried your confidence. What’s more, he never said a word. He just grabbed his mallet, slipped seven pucks into the slot, then rode off into the sunset that was sixth period.
We never learned his name. We just referred to him as “God.”
And I guess, when I really give it some thought, that’s the only personal comparison I have to what’s going on with Stephen Strasburg.
Should be fun to watch Sunday.
In the meantime…
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…
- Sunday’s game has been picked up nationally by TBS. I assume because David Huff is pitching.
- You had to figure Matt LaPorta would collect a little confidence facing Triple-A pitching for a spell, and he’s got to be feeling much more confident after crushing three homers against Rochester last night. But the Indians don’t plan to bring LaPorta back to Cleveland until they can guarantee him everyday playing time. So until or unless Austin Kearns and/or Russell Branyan get moved or have their playing time significantly lessened, it would appear LaPorta will remain in Triple-A.
- And before you ask, no, there’s absolutely nothing going on in the trade department. Yet.
- You know who’s probably not going to be in Triple-A much longer? Carlos Santana. He’s starting to make the Indians believers in the defensive strides he’s made this season. Manager Manny Acta said a promotion for Santana before the All-Star break is not out of the realm of possibility. And obviously, Santana will be here before September.
- Santana has such an elite bat (as evidenced by his 1.008 OPS through 56 games this season) that the Indians expect him to stick once he comes up here. They don’t want any major defensive development to have to take place at this level. One area where Santana has shown the need to improve is in controlling the running game. He’s thrown out 9 of 40 runners this season. It’s certainly not from a lack of arm strength. Acta said Santana has shown a tendency to overthrow in-game, at times. It’s not a trait he’s demonstrated as much in drills. “He has a cannon for an arm, and he wants people to see it,” Acta said. “It gets him a little long at times.”
- What do the Indians do if both Santana and Lou Marson (who has been excellent defensively) are both up here and worthy of playing time? The Indians believe they could definitely work Santana in at first base, on occasion, in that scenario. He was, after all, a third baseman before the Dodgers moved him behind the dish.
- Jamey Wright and Mark Grudzielanek were officially released today.
- Justin Masterson has clearly rebounded over his last three starts, and he was dominant in that two-hitter he tossed against his old mates last night. You can’t help but wonder if Masterson would have even had the opportunity to make these last three starts if the Indians would have had a hot hand in the Columbus rotation.
- Speaking of that Columbus rotation, Carlos Carrasco has had an unsteady season. But he has won his last three starts with a 4.71 ERA, striking out 21 and walking four in 21 innings. He worked eight scoreless, allowing just three hits with a walk and nine strikeouts, in Wednesday’s win. Acta said Carrasco needs to keep himself composed when he has baserunners aboard.
- Taking a cue from Masterson and Carrasco last night, Akron left-hander Scott Barnes tossed seven scoreless on two hits while striking out 10 against New Hampshire.
- Aaron Laffey has gotten stretched out to tolerate a pitch count of 75. In two starts with the Clippers, he’s 0-1 with a 4.66 ERA in 9 2/3 innings. Acta said Laffey remains in the Indians’ plans.
- Jason Donald gets his first Major League start at second base tonight, but Acta said not to read too much into it. He spelled Luis Valbuena to get an extra right-handed bat in there against Jon Lester. Donald will see the occasional start at second (preparing him for when Asdrubal Cabrera returns), but Acta said it won’t be a 50/50 split for Donald between second and short.
- Second baseman Jason Kipnis has been promoted to Double-A Akron to replace Cord Phelps, who moved on up to Columbus. Kipnis was drafted as an outfielder in the second round last year before converting to the infield. He batted .302 with eight doubles, a triple, two homers and 15 RBIs over his last 24 games for Class A Kinston.
- I’m working on some other projects for MLB.com (including in-depth coverage of the Strasburgian Spectacle on Sunday) for the remainder of the homestand. So you won’t see my byline much on the Indians’ coverage. I’m leaving you in the highly capable hands of John Barone, so treat him well.