June 2010

6/22: Indians at Phillies

Tonight’s 7:05 p.m. ET game at Citizens Bank Park will be broadcast on WTAM and STO.

Manager Manny Acta will announce after tonight’s game who is taking David Huff’s rotation spot on Friday. It will be either left-hander Aaron Laffey or right-hander Carlos Carrasco. The Indians wanted to inform the player before announcing the decision to reporters.

cle5.gifINDIANS (26-42):
CF Crowe, RF Choo, C Santana, LF Kearns, 3B Peralta, 1B Branyan, SS Hernandez, 2B Donald, RHP Mitch Talbot (7-5, 4.21).




phi1.gifPHILLIES (35-32):
SS Rollins, 3B Polanco, 2B Utley, 1B Howard, RF Werth, LF Ibanez, CF Victorino, C Schneider, LHP Jamie Moyer (7-6, 4.76).

Huff optioned out

You might have seen this coming. David Huff has been ousted from the Tribe rotation and optioned to Triple-A Columbus.

Who’s going to take Huff’s rotation spot Friday in Cincinnati? The Indians will announce that Tuesday. Obviously. Aaron Laffey and Carlos Carrasco are the two top options at Columbus. Both pitched over the weekend, so both are options for Friday.

Carrasco is 5-3 with a 4.29 ERA in 13 starts for the Clippers. He has struck out 65 and walked 27 in 79 2/3 innings of work. He allowed three runs on five hits with two walks and two strikeouts in five innings in a game against Pawtucket that was suspended by rain on Sunday.

Laffey is stretched back out to handle a starter’s workload but has struggled with his control. He’s 0-1 with a 3.98 in four appearances, striking out nine and walking 15 in 20 1/3 innings. He allowed a run on five hits with seven walks and two strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings Saturday.

Huff was 2-9 with a 6.04 ERA in 13 starts and 1-8 with a 7.20 ERA over his last 11 starts.

"Went a little heavy on the pine tree perfume there?"

By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com

freshener.pngOver the last few hours, I’ve tried to concoct a scenario to explain the car I passed in the parking garage this afternoon. It’s not the car that was the issue, but what I happened to notice inside the car. Hanging from the rearview mirror was not one, not two, not even eight or nine… but roughly 15 or 16 air fresheners.

They all appeared to be orange, for the record.

It is reasonable to suspect that the driver of this vehicle is the obsessive-compulsive sort. Or perhaps the smell of coconut arouses this person’s senses in ways that overpower any frustration that might arise in traffic on the daily commute. My hunch, though, is that this person is in the unenviable position of car-pooling with a coworker who possesses mutant B.O.

Whatever the scenario, I’m sure the good people at Little Trees thank this air freshener enthusiast for the patronage.


  • Trevor Crowe is out of the lineup for the second straight game. The Indians want to be cautious with Crowe’s right knee after he fouled a pitch off the knee last weekend. “You’re never 100 percent,” Crowe said. “But [the knee] is definitely tolerable. They just want to help me down the road.”
  • With Crowe out, it was Anderson Hernandez in the leadoff spot last night and Jason Donald tonight. “Our leadoff options are on the DL,” Acta said, referring, of course, to Asdrubal Cabrera and Grady Sizemore. “It’s tough to find a team five-deep in leadoff options.”
  • Crowe’s absence has also opened up more playing time for Shelley Duncan, who has come on strong at the plate (.306 average, two doubles, three homers and 11 RBIs in 15 games) since his promotion from Columbus. In the field? Eh, not so much. Duncan misplayed two doubles in the third inning last night. Acta noted that the Indians “didn’t sign Shelley because we thought he would win a Gold Glove.”
  • R.A. Dickey, getting the start for the Mets tonight, is one of baseball’s more interesting stories. If you’re unfamiliar with his background and how he became a knuckleballer, you can check out the profile I did on Dickey for MLB.com.
  • The Indians held a pitchers’ fielding practice session before BP again today, part of the final preparation before the upcoming nine-game road trip to NL cities (Pittsburgh, Philly, Cincy). In a moment resembling something out of Spring Training camp, Acta gathered his pitchers around him on the mound beforehand to deliver some words of wisdom before the drills. “We made sure they’re aware that we’re going to play in the NL, and they’re going to see a lot of bunt plays,” Acta said. “In the AL, sometimes you can go a month without seeing a sacrifice bunt. So they need to zero in on what we’re doing and devote full attention to it.”
  • The other part of the preparation, of course, is pitchers taking batting practice, which has been going on for the last few weeks. Acta said David Huff has stood out as the guy who handles the bat better than anyone else on the pitching staff. But I wouldn’t expect to see him pinch-hitting anytime soon.
  • The primary pinch-hitter, of course, will be Travis Hafner, who will be a bench player for the length of the road trip. On the off chance you didn’t already know this, Pronk is absolutely not an option at first base. He hasn’t played there since 2007. First, it was an arthritic elbow that limited him from playing there regularly, and then the shoulder issues set in and put the kibosh on his participation in the field altogether.
  • Here’s another reminder of those halcyon days of Spring Training: The Indians will be taking a bus to Pittsburgh for the weekend series with the Pirates. They’re leaving on a two-bus caravan after tonight’s game.
  • The Tribe will get a look at the Pirates’ future this weekend. In the past week, the Bucs have promoted three of their top prospects, third baseman Pedro Alvarez (who debuted last night), outfielder Jose Tabata and right-hander Brad Lincoln (who gets the start Sunday).
  • When Carlos Santana was promoted from Columbus last week, the Indians braced us for the fact that he’s going to have some kinks to work out defensively. We saw a bit of that last night, as he and Mitch Talbot struggled to get on the same page, in terms of the signs. Santana’s English has improved dramatically in the time since the Indians acquired him two years ago, but a bit of a language barrier still exists, and that was evident last night.
  • The Indians signed their 12th-round pick, shortstop Tyler Cannon, from the University of Virginia. He hit .341 with three homers and 38 RBIs this season.
  • The new Indians Team Shop will open at Westgate in Fairview Park tomorrow. The first 25 fans through the doors at 5:30 a.m. will get two all-you-can-eat-seat three-packs.
  • Matt LaPorta continues to rake in Columbus, especially against lefties. He’s 5-for-7 with three homers and six RBIs off left-handers.
  • Third baseman Jared Goedert came out of nowhere this year to earn a promotion from Akron to Columbus. He’s batting .378 with six doubles, two homers, seven RBIs and a 1.261 OPS in nine games with the Clippers.
  • Joe Smith has allowed just one earned run in his last 11 innings over 10 appearances.
  • It was an animated atmosphere in the clubhouse before BP today, as the players gathered around the big screen to watch Mexico’s eventual 2-0 win over France in the World Cup.
  • Shin-Soo Choo’s native South Korea is crazy about soccer, to the point where the nation’s Justice Ministry is ignoring the usual 9 p.m. curfew for its 50,000 convicts on the night of games. Choo is not as soccer-crazed as some of his comrades, but he does remember getting up at 6 a.m. to watch South Korea’s matches in the 2002 World Cup, which South Korea helped host. Choo was in Class A Wisconsin at the time. “We had roommates in the Minor Leagues,” Choo said. “My roommate said, ‘Choo, what are you doing up?’ I said, ‘I apologize, but I have to watch this game.'” Choo did not watch today, when South Korea got spanked by Argentina.
  • CastroTurf is going on hiatus for a few days. I’ll catch back up with you Tuesday from Philly. There will be a fresh edition of the Indians Inbox posted on Indians.com on Monday.


6/17: Indians vs. Mets

Tonight’s 7:05 p.m. ET game at Progressive Field is on WTAM and STO.cle7.gif

INDIANS (25-39): SS Donald, RF Choo, C Santana, DH Hafner, CF Kearns, 1B Branyan, 3B Peralta, LF Duncan, 2B Valbuena. RHP Jake Westbrook (4-3, 4.62).




nym3.gifMETS (37-28):
SS Reyes, CF Pagan, 3B Wright, 1B Davis, RF Francoeur, DH Carter, LF Feliciano, 2B Tejada. RHP R.A. Dickey (4-0, 2.78).

6/16: Indians vs. Mets

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

This certainly qualifies as one of the more interesting lineups of the season, to date.

cle4.gifINDIANS (25-38):
SS Hernandez, RF Choo, C Santana, DH Hafner, CF Kearns, 3B Peralta, LF Duncan, 1B Marte, 2B Donald. RHP Mitch Talbot (7-4, 3.59).




nym2.gifMETS (36-28):
SS Reyes, CF Pagan, 3B Wright, 1B Davis, LF Bay, DH Carter, C Barajas, RF Francoeur, 2B Tejada. LHP Jon Niese (3-2, 3.61).

"Things got real quiet real fast"

By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com

We are back to normal here at Progressive Field, now that the Stephen Strasburg Circus has left town and there is no longer a merchandise stand dedicated to an opposing player.

Being around here for as many green-seat specials as I have the last couple years, it was certainly fun to see such an electric atmosphere at a non-opener for a change. Maybe it’ll get electric again when knuckleballer R.A. Dickey gets the starting nod for the Mets on Thursday.

In the meantime, we’ll have to settle for Johan Santana.


  • Tonight marks the first time the Indians are facing Santana since the 2007 season, when they (well, not the current crop of “they,” obviously) became the first team to beat a reigning Cy Young Award winner five times. Santana was 0-5 with a 4.38 ERA in six starts against the Indians that year and is 7-7 lifetime against them.
  • Rafael Perez has leapfrogged Tony Sipp as the go-to lefty option in the back end of Manny Acta’s bullpen. These two have moved in completely opposite directions in recent weeks. Sipp has now allowed an incredible 15 earned runs in his last 2 1/3 innings, walking five and serving up 14 hits. He’s ERA has gone from 1.40 to 7.48. (I actually considered breaking form and putting an exclamation point after that sentence.) Acta, though, still thinks Sipp can work out his struggles at this level. “We’ll keep running him out there,” Acta said. “If he can’t [work it out], we’ll worry about other alternatives.”
  • Perez benefits from Sipp’s demise. “We’ll trust him in those [tight] situations because we know what Tony’s going through,” Acta said. Perez has had a brutal year, but he’s allowed just two earned runs over his last 10 appearances (three strikeouts, two walks, 10 hits in 9 1/3 innings) and no runs his last five appearances, covering 5 1/3 innings.
  • Acta is facing the team for whom he served as third base coach in 2005 and ’06. He said he is eternally grateful for that experience of being a part of a team on a major stage and the pressures that come with it. He’s also grateful to have been a member of the ’06 team that fell one win shy of the World Series. “Every time I lie on my couch or drive my car, I think of the Mets,” Acta said with a smile. “I bought them with the playoff money I got in ’06.”
  • Acta said Grady Sizemore and Asdrubal Cabrera are here at Progressive Field every day getting treatment. Speaking of Sizemore, he said, “He obviously can’t stand to watch us play. He wants to be out there. But he’s in good spirits and getting better every day.”
  • ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark, with some help from Inside Edge and pitch f/x, compiled a list of all known instances since 2002 in which a player homered off a fastball of 100 mph (or higher). There are six of them: Travis Hafner off Stephen Strasburg on Sunday, Jonny Gomes off Ubaldo Jimenez on Aug. 1, 2009, Corey Patterson off Joel Zumaya on April 10, 2007, Chris Shelton off Brandon League (101 mph) on Aug. 19, 2005, Luis Gonzalez off Billy Wagner on June 18, 2003, and Mike Sweeney off Bartolo Colon on May 9, 2002.
  • Hard to imagine the man known as Pronk getting around on a 100 mph fastball in 2008 or ’09, when his shoulder woes slowed his swing. And the pitch Hafner hit was a tough one to hit, even by 100 mph fastball standards. It was low in the zone, and Pronk had to scoop it out. “A lot of it is just seeing the ball out of his hand,” Hafner said. “I’ve felt a lot better over the last week or so. I’m just trying to shorten up my swing. If I get the barrel to stuff, I’m going to be more successful.”
  • The Indians’ six complete games this season are the third-most in the Majors, trailing only the Angels and Phillies (seven each).
  • Saturday was Shin-Soo Choo bobblehead night, and “Big League” received about 10 cases containing somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 dolls. He’s planning to keep a few for himself and his parents and planning to bring the rest to South Korea in the winter to sign and sell to members of his fan club to raise money for charity. Choo liked this year’s bobblehead version of himself much more than last year’s, when the doll depicted him in a white “Miami Vice”-style suit for an 80s weekend promotion. “I never wear a white suit,” Choo said.


6/15: Indians vs. Mets

Tonight’s 7:05 p.m. ET game is on WTAM and WKYC Channel 3.

cle3.gifINDIANS (25-37):
CF Crowe, RF Choo, C Santana, DH Hafner, LF Kearns, 1B Branyan, 3B Peralta, 2B Valbuena, SS Donald. RHP Justin Masterson (2-5, 4.74).




nym1.gifMETS (35-28):
SS Reyes, CF Pagan, 3B Wright, 1B Davis, LF Bay, DH Carter, C Barajas, RF Francoeur, 2B Cora. LHP Johan Santana (4-3, 2.96).

6/13: Indians vs. Nationals

Let the Stephen Strasburg Show begin.

Today’s 1:05 p.m. ET game is on WTAM and WKYC Channel 3 locally and TBS nationally.

cle2.gifINDIANS (25-36):
CF Crowe, RF Choo, C Santana, DH Hafner, LF Kearns, 1B Branyan, 3B Peralta, 2B Valbuena, SS Hernandez. LHP David Huff (2-7, 5.46).




was2.gifNATIONALS (30-33):
2B Guzman, CF Morgan, DH Zimmerman, 1B Dunn, LF Willingham, C Rodriguez, RF Morse, SS Desmond, 3B Gonzalez. RHP Stephen Strasburg (1-0, 2.57).

"Everybody form a line"

By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com

The Indians have sold more than 9,000 tickets to Sunday’s game against Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals in the past week, including 3,000 since Thursday morning.

The secondary market for Sunday’s game has also heated up. According to data from SeatGeek.com, there is a 22.2 percent increase for the Strasburg start over the season average at Progressive Field. The average transaction price for Strasburg’s start is $14.98 higher than tonight’s game and $7.72 higher than Saturday’s game.

With Carlos Santana making his debut, the Indians are hopeful for a heavy walkup crowd at the ballpark tonight.

On Saturday, there will be no Strasburg and probably no Santana (Mike Redmond will likely catch Fausto Carmona), but at least you’ve got that Shin-Soo Choo bobblehead.

Anyway, here’s the story on the Indians getting ready for Strasburg. And here’s what Tribe legend Bob Feller thinks about the Strasburg hype.


Here comes Santana, down goes Marson

By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com


UPDATE: Here is the full story on Santana’s promotion, including quotes from Mark Shapiro.

Oye, come on up.

On Thursday, manager Manny Acta said catcher Carlos Santana, the Indians’ top prospect, would be with the club sometime before Sept. 1.

Friday certainly qualifies.

Santana, a switch-hitting slugger who is one of the more hyped Tribe prospects in recent memory, is joining the Indians in time for the weekend series against the Nationals. He has been promoted from Triple-A Columbus, which is where Lou Marson is headed

The news comes as the Indians are gearing up to face another of the Majors’ top prospects, Nats right-hander Stephen Strasburg, who is fresh off a dazzling debut against the Pirates. A Strasburg-Santana matchup is certainly an appealing one.

Santana earned the callup by batting .316 with 13 homers, 14 doubles, 51 RBIs and a 1.044 OPS in 57 games for the Clippers. He went 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs against Rochester on Thursday.

The Indians were pleased with Santana’s defensive development over the course of the season. They were ecstatic about the defense from Marson, who had thrown out 38 percent of those attempting to steal. But Marson was batting just .191 with a .530 OPS.