By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
The LeBron Jersey Guy, as he shall now be known, can scratch last night’s heckling at Progressive Field off his personal bucket list.
Other items on his “to-do” agenda include…
- Play Michigan fight song outside Jack Tatum’s funeral.
- Take swigs from a bottle of Crown at AA meeting.
- Wear hilarious “Where’s the Beef?” T-shirt to PETA rally.
- Take non-neutered dog for a walk… to Bob Barker’s house.
- Wear hooded sweatshirt, bad mustache and big sunglasses while mailing a package at the post office.
- Move to Miami.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…
- Jhonny Peralta has left the building, and Jayson Nix is now the starting third baseman for your Cleveland Indians. Nix earned the first crack at the position with his solid play as the regular at second before Asdrubal Cabrera returned from the DL and bumped Jason Donald to second. Andy Marte will back him up. Luis Valbuena is here in a utility role.
- Many of you are wondering why Jared Goedert isn’t here. The Indians want to get a good look at what they have in Nix, for one. They also want to see defensive improvement from Goedert, whose error total in 46 games (11) is only slightly less eye-catching than his home run total (17). Sounds like Goedert will be a September callup.
- Travis Hafner was scratched from tonight’s lineup with … say it with me… right shoulder soreness. This is the first time this season that the Indians have announced that the shoulder is bothering Hafner. It’s doubtful that it’s actually the first time it’s bothered him, though. We’ve already seen how much Hafner has altered his swing to account for the shoulder. Apparently, last Friday’s game against the Rays, twice delayed and then restarted because of rain, exacerbated the issue. Does not look like this shoulder thing is going away, and that, of course, only makes a bad contract look worse.
- Not sensing that the Indians are close to making any other trades before Saturday’s 4 p.m. non-waiver deadline. As I tweeted last night, I was told flatly last month that they have no urge to move Fausto Carmona, despite any rumors you’ve read. Things can change and evolve in a month, but trading Carmona doesn’t make any more sense now than it did then. When asked about trading starting pitching, this was what Mark Shapiro had to say last night: “I would say that, compared to the past two years, there’s no sense of urgency that we have to move anyone, there’s no financial motivation or the need to create opportunities for anyone. We’ll take a look at each individual case and the value we can get back, as well as alternatives that would get the playing time. Those things enter into the equation.”
- None of the above applies to Kerry Wood, who has no future here and, in fact, barely has much of a present here. The Indians would move him in a heartbeat, if they could. He could certainly clear waivers and be dealt in August. First, he has to get activated, and that’s coming soon. Wood worked a perfect inning for Double-A Akron tonight — eight pitches, eight strikes. He’s expected to be activated this weekend in Toronto and will likely see one or two appearances in the seventh or eighth inning before returning to the closer’s role.
- Until then, that role belongs to Chris Perez, who showed, in catcher Chris Gimenez’s description, pure rage with runners on the corners and none out Tuesday night against the Yankees. Gimenez said Perez is fearless. He let out a primal scream when he struck out Mark Teixeira for the second out of that inning and did what Gimenez called “Jeter fist pump” when he got A-Rod to ground into a force out to end it. “I get fired up watching Perez,” Gimenez said.
- Marte was not happy to see Peralta go. “He was like a brother to me,” Marte said. Peralta was informed of the trade around 6:20 p.m. last night. Marte said Peralta was “ready” for that kind of news. “He signed here when he was 17, and he had his house and his family here,” Marte said. “It’s hard to get used to. But it’s good for him. He was excited about having a chance to play short there.”
- For some reason, there was an aluminum bat sitting in Marte’s locker. “Maybe that’ll do it,” one observer wryly noted.
- What did Luis Valbuena do to get his season back on track at Triple-A Columbus? “He hit,” Manny Acta said. Well, certainly it’s more complicated than that. Valbuena, who hit .313 with a 1.032 OPS and batted cleanup for the Clippers, said he had better footing and use of his legs to pull the ball more consistently. Defensively, he played 10 games at short, seven at third and six at second.
- Valbuena took over Shin-Soo Choo’s old locker (Choo moved to the “Jim Thome locker” near the entrance to the showers last week). “A lot of hits in that locker,” Choo said, pointing to Valbuena’s new home. “That locker, .300. This locker (gesturing to the Thome locker), .320.”
- Big League Choo, by the way, entered tonight batting .455 (10-for-22) with five doubles since his activation from the DL.
- Ezequiel Carrera, the Triple-A outfielder acquired in last month’s Russell Branyan trade, was placed on the Columbus DL with a right hamstring injury. He had been batting .318 since coming over.
- Acta shaved media relations director Bart Swain’s head. So… now you know that.
UPDATE: This four-game series against the Yankees attracted 112,060. That’s a 15 percent increase to total season attendance at Progressive Field.
By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
UPDATED: Here’s the full story on the Peralta trade.
The Indians have dealt veteran third baseman Jhonny Peralta and cash to the Tigers for Class A left-hander Giovanni Soto.
Peralta joins an injury depleted Tigers team looking to get back into the thick of the AL Central race. The Tigers lost Brandon Inge to a broken bone in his hand.
Peralta is making $4.6 million this season. No word yet on how much of his remaining contract the Indians are picking up.
Peralta batted .246 with 23 doubles, seven homers and 43 RBIs for the Tribe this year. He is a career .264 hitter over eight seasons with the Tribe. He made the move from shortstop to third base last year.
Soto, 19, has spent this season with Class A West Michigan, going 6-6 with a 2.61 ERA in 16 starts. He has struck out 76 and walked 25 in 82 2/3 innings and hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any of his 16 starts.
Soto is headed to Class A Lake County.
Luis Valbuena has been called up from Triple-A Columbus to take Peralta’s active roster spot.
Tonight’s 7:05 p.m. ET game is on WTAM and SportsTime Ohio. I’ll be on the STO pregame show tonight.
INDIANS (42-58): CF Crowe, SS Cabrera, RF Choo, C Santana, DH Hafner, LF Kearns,
3B Peralta, 1B LaPorta, 3B Andy Marte, 2B Donald. RHP Fausto Carmona (10-7, 3.51).
YANKEES (63-36): SS Jeter, RF Swisher, 1B Teixeira, 3B Rodriguez, 2B Cano, DH Posada, CF Granderson, C Cervelli, LF Gardner. RHP A.J. Burnett (8-8, 4.77).
Tonight’s 7:05 p.m. ET game at Progressive Field is on WTAM and STO. Josh Tomlin will be making his debut and hoping to avoid serving up No. 600 to Alex Rodriguez.
Here’s a story on CC Sabathia returning to Cleveland and again sharing his revisionist view of history.
INDIANS (41-58): CF Crowe, SS Cabrera, RF Choo, LF Kearns, DH Duncan, 3B Peralta, 1B LaPorta, 2B Donald, C Gimenez. RHP Josh Tomlin (0-0, 0.00).
YANKEES (63-35): SS Jeter, RF Swisher, DH Teixeira, 3B Rodriguez, 2B Cano, CF Granderson, 1B Miranda, C Francisco Cervelli*, LF Gardner. LHP C.C. Sabathia (13-3, 3.18).
*Jorge Posada was a late scratch with left knee soreness.
By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
If you’re sitting in Section 181, Row J, in the aisle seat between Section 180 and 181 tonight, I hope you brought your glove.
The folks at SeatGeek have determined that your seat is “The Money Seat” – i.e., the spot where Alex Rodriguez’s 600th career home run is most likely to land. It’s going to land in the aisle, so be nimble enough to catch it on the stairs.
Of course, a similar calculation was made for Yankee Stadium last week and nothing happened, so A-Rod has to hold up his end of the bargain, too.
But should Rodriguez hit No. 600 in Cleveland, that’s the spot where it is most likely headed. SeatGeak calculated that there is a 15.9 percent chance of the ball going to Section 182, a 12.5 percent chance of it going to Sectoin 181, a 12 percent chance of it landing in the seatless center field area and a 10.2 percent chance of it landing in Section 183.
If you’re in Section 108, sorry, but there’s only a 0.2 percent chance of it coming to you.
And if you’re behind the plate, you’re really out of luck.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…
- Does 600 carry the same panache it once did? A-Rod, after all, will be the first admitted PED user to reach 600. But Tribe closer Chris Perez doesn’t think that takes anything away from the mark. “There are a lot of guys who used steroids who didn’t reach that number,” Perez said. Asked if Indians pitcher will approach A-Rod any differently this week, Perez said absolutely not. “You have to take care of the guys in front of him, so there’s nobody on base,” Perez said. “It’s hard to pitch around anybody in that lineup. I know I’m not going to shy away from him. If he hits it, so be it.”
- Cleveland is no stranger to milestone home runs. As loyal reader Jim Dancik pointed out, Babe Ruth hit No. 500 in League Park, and Ted Williams hit No. 500 in Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Press box attendant John “Popper” Krepop noted that Williams hit his 500th off Wynn Hawkins, who went on to become the Indians’ traveling secretary. Now that’s minutiae.
- Josh Tomlin will be thrown to the wolves tomorrow night, making his Major League debut against the Yankees. A somewhat surprising announcement, considering the Indians have made it clear they want to get a good look at Carlos Carrasco this year and Tomlin is not on the 40-man roster. Then again, Tomlin, despite getting little to no publicity throughout his Minor League career, has done nothing but prove he deserves a look, too.
- In Columbus this season, Tomlin is 8-4 with a 2.68 ERA in 20 appearances (17 starts), has struck out 80 and walked 33 in 107 1/3 innings and has a .212 average against and 1.08 WHIP. That last number really stands out to manager Manny Acta. “WHIP stands for traffic,” Acta said, “and traffic stands for disaster.” Tomlin has avoided both. “He hasn’t been high-profile, but he’s proved himself at every level and his record speaks for itself,” Acta said. “His numbers need to be challenged at this level … I don’t think his name was at the top of our board [in Spring Training, when Tomlin wasn’t in Major League camp], but he’s worked himself to the top of our board.”
- Tomlin was one of three Minor Leaguers (Beau Mills and Jerad Head being the others) in the Tribe system arrested and charged with felonious assault after a June 3 altercation in Akron. The charges were reduced last week to disorderly conduct. Acta said he has spoken with several people in the organization who know all three players well, and he is not at all concerned about the incident that led to the charges. He said Tomlin has a reputation as a “good kid.” “There are things that happen that are sometimes out of our control,” Acta said.
- So, what about Carrasco? The elbow cramp that pulled him out of his July 20 start was obviously not all that serious, as he worked four innings against Pawtucket on Sunday (allowing two runs on three hits over four innings). Acta said the Indians do still intend to get Carrasco a meaningful opportunity this year.
- Austin Kearns has missed five of the last six games. He dealt with right knee soreness last week and returned Saturday, only to be spiked in the leg on the basepaths. He’s out again tonight, but Acta said Kearns was tested out and should be ready to play again Tuesday.
- Kerry Wood (blister on right index finger) will throw a bullpen session Tuesday, and then the Indians will determine the next course of action with regards to his rehab. No word on whether he’ll have to head to the Minors. When he comes back, he likely won’t be in the closer’s role immediately (similar to his last activation from the DL), but Acta has no plans to leave Perez in the closer’s role permanently and use Wood as a setup man down the stretch. “Whenever Kerry’s ready, he’ll close,” Acta said.
- Anthony Reyes, recovering from Tommy John surgery, is here. He’s starting for Double-A Akron tomorrow night.
- Acta has been pleased with the defensive improvement he’s seen from Matt LaPorta, who turned a 3-6-3 after looking the runner back at third in Sunday’s loss. “A lot has to do with him not bouncing around [between positions],” Acta said. “Not having to work on stuff in the outfield has helped. You can tell he’s made progress because we’re not substituting for him in the late innings. He’s earned that right.”
- Michael Brantley remains in the leadoff spot, despite his .162 average and .229 on-base percentage. Acta said the Indians are still trying to get a read on Brantley at this level, and they believe in his OBP track record in the Minors. They also want to see OBP improvement from Trevor Crowe (.318).
- The Indians will have to make two roster moves after tonight’s game to get Tomlin on the active and 40-man rosters. Not sure what to expect on either front, to be honest. Obviously, a position player has to go. Shelley Duncan has played well, so perhaps Andy Marte gets the boot. Unless, of course, the Indians decide to send Brantley down again to ensure him everyday at-bats.
- Right-hander Alex White was 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA for Double-A Akron in two starts last week, allowing just two runs on 14 hits while striking out 14 with no walks in 14 innings.
- A special congrats to former MLB.com intern Andrew Gribble, who got engaged over the weekend. Save the money, Scribble.
UPDATE: CC Sabathia had more to say about the way the 2007 Indians were broken up, specifically that he never received a contract extension offer from the Indians.
My rant on CC stands.
Tonight’s 7:05 p.m. ET game is on STO and WTAM. Yankees cleanup hitter Alex Rodriguez is looking for home run No. 600. Tribe cleanup hitter Carlos Santana is looking for home run No. 7.
The last time Westbrook and Vazquez faced each other, the Indians beat the Yankees 22-0.
INDIANS (41-57): CF Brantley, SS Cabrera, RF Choo, C Santana, DH Hafner, 3B Peralta, 1B LaPorta, LF Crowe, 2B Donald. RHP Jake Westbrook (6-6, 4.74).
YANKEES (62-35): SS Jeter, RF Swisher, 1B Teixeira, 3B Rodriguez, 2B Cano, DH Posada, CF Granderson, C Cervelli, LF Gardner. RHP Javier Vazquez (8-7, 4.68).
By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
If you thought the Indians’ lineup looked young, you should see the kids running the bases after Sunday home games.
But the kids who ran the bases after yesterday’s game had a special treat waiting for them… and not just the free ice cream sandwiches and popsicles provided by Pierre’s.
Several members of the Tribe were on the basepaths to greet the kids as they darted from base to base. Participants on Sunday were manager Manny Acta, first-base coach Sandy Alomar Jr., Jake Westbrook, Carlos Santana, Chris Gimenez, Frank Herrmann and owner Larry Dolan and his wife, Eva. They cheered the youngsters on and doled out high fives to each of them.
This was only the beginning, as the Indians plan to do this at each Sunday home game from here on out this season.
For a small-market team trying to win games and win over fans, this was really a nice touch – a few extra minutes at the ballpark that go a long way. Many of those kids will remember that experience for the rest of their lives.
And those that won’t probably appreciated the ice cream, all the same.
By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
It’s 95 degrees with 95 percent humidity (at least, that’s how it feels) at Progressive Field, just in time for the Indians’ “Christmas in July” celebration. It’s difficult to dig Ashley Tisdale singing “Last Christmas” on a normal day, let alone one where your shirt is sticking to your back.
I like Christmas. Heck, I’ll go so far as to say I love Christmas. But I’m no fan of Christmas in July. Where does it end? Halloween in March? Arbor Day in February? Martin Luther King Jr. Day on some day other than the day that happens to be Martin Lurther King Jr.’s birthday? (Wait, we already do that one. But you get the point.)
If somebody decides we can have multiple Thanksgivings, I won’t complain. And judging by the girth of some of my fellow press box inhabitants, I’m not alone. But let’s leave Christmas alone. Or at least, go easy on the Christmas tunes.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…
- The Indians’ Christmas in July present came in the form of Shin-Soo Choo returning from the DL. Choo said he was a little cautious swinging the bat in his first at-bat for Akron, but he quickly realized the thumb was fine and there was no reason to hold back. Alas, that first at-bat was the only one that resulted in a hit for Choo. But the point of the rehab assignment was to see live pitching, not necessarily to hit it.
- As expected, Choo slides right into the No. 3 spot of the lineup, with Carlos Santana batting cleanup. As discussed in this story, this should/could generate more opportunities for Santana, but the Indians still need to see improvement from Travis Hafner in the No. 5 spot if Santana is going to get better pitches to hit. Santana had little to work with the last few weeks, as the scouting reports have made it clear he’s a guy to avoid.
- Choo took Aaron Laffey’s roster spot, which was not much of a surprise once Laffey told reporters he’s dealing with a “dead arm” after his last start in Minnesota. The Indians were not pleased that Laffey chose to go that route in making the information public (hey, at least he didn’t tweet it).
- Laffey had an MRI yesterday that did not reveal structural damage. The Indians feel rest is the only remedy. How long will Laffey rest? They didn’t say for certain. But we do know that this will be more than just a spot start opportunity for the guy who comes up to replace Laffey in the rotation.
- Who will that guy be? The Indians will need to add a starter for Tuesday’s game against the Yankees. That happens to be Josh Tomlin’s day to throw for Columbus, and Tomlin is one of three candidates for the job. The Indians could also go with Carlos Carrasco or David Huff, who are scheduled to throw this weekend but could obviously be scratched at a moment’s notice.
- You’d have to assume Carrasco would be the odds-on favorite to get the opportunity, given that Acta has made it clear for weeks that he intends to get Carrasco a meaningful look in the rotation. Carrasco left his start Tuesday with a stiff elbow and is still being evaluated. But pitching coach Tim Belcher said the issue was just cramping and is not considered serious. So I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Carrasco (8-4, 3.98 ERA in 19 starts) is the guy on Tuesday. But we’ll see.
- Justin Masterson takes Laffey’s originally scheduled Sunday start on regular rest, with Jake Westbrook on Monday.
- The felony assault charges against Tomlin, Beau Mills and Jerad Head have been reduced to disorderly conduct by a Summit County grand jury, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. The max sentence is 30 days in jail and a $250 fine.
- Here’s the latest Indians Inbox, in case you missed it.
- A couple other notes on Choo: 1. He changed lockers. He is now in the spot next to the door that leads to the showers, a spot formerly occupied by the likes of Jim Thome, Sandy Alomar Jr., Aaron Boone and, most recently, Mike Redmond. 2. Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said he tried to get Choo on last year’s All-Star team but simply didn’t have enough spots. Maddon is a huge Choo fan. “He’s one of the best players in the American League,” Maddon said. “There’s not a thing he can’t do.”
- Maddon is also a Mitch Talbot fan, and he said he’s not overly surprised with Talbot’s effectiveness here in his rookie season. As you know, Talbot is here via the trade that sent Kelly Shoppach to the Rays. Talbot was out of options, and the Rays didn’t have a place for him in their rotation. “He has a nice arm, a really good changeup, a really good cutter,” Maddon said. “I always thought his delivery was as sturdy as you can be. A guy with a delivery like that has a good chance of avoiding injuries.”
- Speaking of Shoppach, Maddon said he’ll get the start here tomorrow for his big Cleveland homecoming. Shoppach joked that he’ll probably be carted around the field in a convertible to be paraded before his adoring fans.
- Shoppach also said he was going to get on Hafner about the decrease in the number of “Pronkville” promotion in Progressive Field these days. It’s down to one faded sign that hangs in the back of the “Pronkville” mezzanine. “They’re going to call it ‘Travis Town,'” Shoppach joked. “When you stop hitting as many homers, they start calling you by your first name.”
- The Indians are 9-2 in their last 11 games in the home of “Travis Town.” In that span, the pitching staff has a 1.76 ERA. The pitchers have allowed just one homer in their last 120 innings here.
- Amazingly, the Rays haven’t won here since Sept. 28, 2005. Granted, only 17 games have been played between these two clubs here in that span (and granted, that was a pretty big loss for the Tribe at the time), but that’s still hard to pull off. It’s the longest current winning streak vs. an opponent in a home ballpark in the big leagues and the most since Milwaukee took 22 straight from the Pirates at Miller Park from 2007-10.
- Acta believes the key to the bullpen’s surge has been Joe Smith, and it’s a difficult point to argue against. Smith has not allowed a run in 12 straight appearances, covering eight innings. He’s yielded just two hits in that span and has dropped his ERA from 8.10 to 4.50. Smith has allowed just 13 percent (3 of 23) of inherited runners to score this season, the second-best mark in the AL.
- Anthony Reyes made his second rehab start in the Arizona Rookie League on Thursday and allowed three runs (two earned) on three hits with a walk and a pair of strikeouts. He’ll begin to progress up the Minor League ladder.
- Nick Weglarz is hot at Columbus, having homered in three straight and batting .425 with four doubles, four homers and six RBIs over his last 10 games.
- Left-hander Nick Hagadone returned from the DL in Akron and allowed a run on two hits with no walks and two strikeouts in three innings of a 4-1 loss to Reading last night. Hagadone could be bullpen bait before all is said and done.
- A big welcome to Mentor native Caleb Potter, who is in the house tonight. Caleb was Ohio’s participant in the Pitch, Hit and Run national competition that took place at this year’s All-Star Game. He finished first in the 13-14 age group in the national finals of the competition.
- Whoever said painting can be therapeutic didn’t paint my living room yesterday.