Results tagged ‘ Adam Miller ’

"The name died before the man"

Really upsetting news about Nick Adenhart, the 22-year-old Angels pitcher killed in a hit-and-run car accident early this morning. The Indians just faced Adenhart about two weeks ago in Cactus League play. He was an up-and-comer with so much in store for him.

610x.jpg“Horrible,” manager Eric Wedge said. “That’s the only word I can even think of. The first people I think about are his parents, his family. It shouldn’t take a great deal to have perspective in this game, but when something like that happens, it brings you back down to earth.”

Amen to that.

In the grand scheme of things, much of what happens between the lines in this game — and any game — is all just, well…

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Trevor Crowe gets his first Major League start today. “I figured I’d get in there when a guy needed a break at some point,” Crowe said. “But I didn’t think it would be in the first series.” Crowe’s parents, David and Terryl, made the trip to Texas from Oregon. Crowe had no intention of informing them that he was in the lineup. “They’ll find out when they get here,” he said with a smile.
  • As expected, Kelly Shoppach is catching Carl Pavano today. They were also matched up in Spring Training. But Wedge said that’s not a concrete pairing, the way Shoppach-Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez-Fausto Carmona are.
  • Carmona was really erratic on the mound last night. He also made a couple mental miscues, such as not running over to cover first base on Elvis Andrus’ infield single to Ryan Garko in the second inning and not looking Josh Hamilton back to third when fielding a bouncer to the mound in the fifth.
  • Adam Miller will throw a 35-pitch bullpen session back at the Goodyear complex on Friday. If all goes well, Miller, working his way back to game readiness despite decreased range of motion and strength in his right middle finger, will throw live batting practice sessions on Monday and Friday of next week.
  • The Indians have not started a season 0-3 since 1996. They went on to win 99 games that season.
  • The last time the Tribe was swept by the Rangers in a three-game series was Aug. 16-18, 2008, here in Arlington.
  • Indians hitters were 2-for-20 with runners in scoring position in the first two games of this series.
  • Two games in, and Indians hitters have already been plunked by two pitches. So they’re on track to break the franchise and MLB record of 103 HBPs set last year.
  • Hector Rondon is one of the more intriguing arms in the Minor League system right now, and he showed it Wednesday night, in Double-A Akron’s season-0pening 9-5 win over Bowie. Rondon went 5 2/3 innings, allowing a run on five hits with a walk and six strikeouts.
  • Carlos Santana, celebrating his 23rd birthday, chipped in with a 2-for-4 night in which he homered and drove in four runs.
  • Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News passes along this tidbit: The Indians took out a full-page ad in the Buffalo Bisons’ game program, thanking the organization and its fans for their support over the last 14 years. Pretty classy move.

~AC

I ain't here on business, baby, I'm only here for fun

Off days on the road are pretty much a waste. Personally, I’d rather spend a day off at home with friends and family than in some Marriott Courtyard watching HBO.

So when the 2009 schedule came out, and I saw the Indians had an off day scheduled in Arlington, no less, you can imagine my chagrin.

040709b.jpgAnd then the Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band tour schedule came out, and all was once again right with the world. The Boss rocked Tulsa, Okla., last night, and my brother Bill and I were there — on the floor, about 10 yards from Bruce’s microphone.

By now, any reader of this blog is already familiar my Springsteen obsession. So I’ll spare you the detailed account of how he scorched the earth with his guitar solo on “Seeds” or my enthusiasm over his ability to captivate and inspire an arena-filling crowd not just with his musicianship but also through his boundless energy and sheer depth of feeling. I won’t mention that the band — even with Clarence Clemons, the bearer of two bad hips and two bum knees, having to be elevated to the stage, quite sadly, by a mechanical lift — has never sounded tighter and never handled Springsteen’s famous setlist audibles more ably.

But I will say that I’m currently nursing what I believe to be a broken toe as a result of the stage crush that ensued when Bruce came toward us near the end of “Rosalita.”

And to quote a less-inspiring rocker, it hurts so good.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • The Indians will induct former players Sandy Alomar Jr. and Wes Ferrell into their team Hall of Fame in August. Former owners Bill Veeck and Dick Jacobs will also be inducted as the inaugural class of the Distinguished Hall of Fame for non-uniformed men and women who significantly contributed to the fortunes of the franchise. Veeck and Ferrell will be inducted posthumously.
  • Cliff Lee said he intended no disrespect toward Victor Martinez on Monday when he referenced Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s two-run single to the right side and said, “If Vic lays out and is able to catch that ball, those runs don’t score.” I was there when Lee said it, and it was clear he was making a point (not much of a point, but a point nonetheless) that mere inches separated that play from being an out. He wasn’t throwing Martinez under the bus, but some people (namely, the talking heads on “Baseball Tonight”) read it that way.
  • Lee is on line to start the April 16 opener of the new Yankee Stadium, opposite former mate CC Sabathia. Pretty cool.
  • Speaking of former Indians, the Rangers are giving Omar Vizquel the start at short tomorrow.
  • Adam Miller’s throwing program is ongoing at the Player Development Complex in Goodyear. He’s still not to the point of facing live hitters, according to Eric Wedge.
  • Jamey Carroll will not have surgery to repair that broken bone in his left hand. It will heal itself naturally. Carroll is still expected to miss four to six weeks.
  • Wedge offered another reason why he wants Travis Hafner in the cleanup spot: “The last thing we need is to put him somewhere in the lineup where he’s not accustomed to being,” Wedge said, “because then you have him trying too hard to get back to where he used to be.”
  • Anthony Reyes, scheduled to make his first start of the season Sunday against the Blue Jays, worked 4 2/3 innings not against but for Mount Olive College in an exhibition on Tuesday night. He faced the Class A Kinston hitters and limited them to a run on two hits with a walk and eight strikeouts. He threw 80 pitches.
  • Tonight’s game marks the 400th all-time meeting between the Indians and Rangers.
  • Former Tribe pitcher Mike Bacsik, who now works for an sports talk radio station, was in the Indians’ clubhouse before tonight’s game. Bacsik will forever be remembered for serving up Barry Bonds’ 756th career home run.
  • Bullpen catchers Dave Wallace and Dan Williams attempted to count the number of balls used in Spring Training this year. They weren’t sure of the exact number, but it was in excess of 12,000.

~AC

I've been out in the desert, just doing my time

Having been here long enough to run for Goodyear City Council, I’d say today was a welcomed day on the spring calendar. It’s getaway day, and never has the prospect of flying to Houston for a pair of exhibition games sounded so good.

state-flag-arizona.jpgAh, but Arizona will be missed on some levels. Goodyear itself and the rest of the Phoenix area grew on me — from the beautiful mountain scenery in Sedona to the sizzling chicken fajitas at Raul and Theresa’s Mexican restaurant near the ballpark, there were plenty of stimulating sights to take in.

Not everybody had the best of times, of course. Jhonny Peralta’s wife was bitten by a scorpion, Bart Swain’s 2-year-old son grabbed a cactus, and Andy Marte didn’t find any takers.

As for the rest of us, we’ll always have the memories of the Affliction T-shirts, the Goodyear Ballpark scoreboard and its inaccurate ball and strike counts and the unsold packets of Dippin’ Dots.

Now, let’s carry on…

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • In a stark contrast to previous spring wrap-ups, Eric Wedge did not have glowing things to say about this Arizona camp. “There was some good, some bad,” he said. “It was unusual. It was a tough camp to read, because of the World Baseball Classic and [the fact that] we had so many players in competition [for rotation and bullpen spots]. It was a camp like no other we’ve been a part of.”
  • Wedge admitted his analysis was affected by what’s transpired the last few days, which have been particularly brutal pitching displays.
  • In general, the Indians played very lethargic baseball the last couple weeks. Not the way you want to “ramp up” (a Wedgeism if ever there was one) just before the start of the season proper. Wedge said he’s hoping the move to Houston and a big-league ballpark will be a shot in the arm for this club. He thinks the seven-week grind has gotten to them, and it’s time for a needed change of scenery.
  • The bottom 11 ERAs in MLB this spring all belong to Arizona-based teams, while 16 of the top 19 team ERAs belong to Florida-based teams.  
  • As far as Anthony Reyes’ performance today, this was the first time all spring that he hasn’t looked very sharp. Reyes admitted he just didn’t have it this afternoon. He gave up seven runs, six of which were earned, on five hits over two innings. He’ll have one last tuneup on Tuesday, when he starts for Class A Kinston in North Carolina.
  • Scott Lewis will also stay behind. He’ll start a Minor League game in Goodyear on Sunday before joining the Tribe in Texas.
  • While Lewis will start the home opener on April 10, Reyes, the No. 5 starter, won’t follow him on the 11th. That start will go to Cliff Lee, who will be kept on four days’ rest (there’s an off day Tuesday, in case you lost track). Reyes will start on Sunday, the 12th.
  • Head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff said the Indians are in the process of working out the upcoming schedule for Adam Miller, who threw another bullpen this morning. At some point in the near future, Miller should progress to facing live hitters.
  • David Dellucci said he strained his left calf rounding first base in a game on March 26. He tried to loosen it up before the game two days later, and it did not cooperate. That’s when he was scratched. He’s not anticipating a long rehab, though he admitted he has some “much-needed at-bats” in store in extended spring and Triple-A before he’ll be ready to join the Indians. Dellucci missed time this spring not just with the calf and thumb injuries but also with pink eye and a cortisone shot to the hamstring (which he said is a standard part of his spring each year).
  • The latest version of the Indians Inbox is up and running. If you’d like to submit a question for the next one, you can do so at tribemailbag@yahoo.com. If you do, don’t forget to include your name and hometown.
  • Lots of Journey and other ’80s classic rock blaring in the clubhouse this morning as players packed. These guys are ready.

~AC

Out by those mountains, west of the moon

It's a 1.5-mile trek to the top of Pistewa (formerly known as Squaw) Peak, which is part of the Phoenix Mountains. Thousands of people huff and puff their way to the top each day, and for good reason -- the view up there is incredible.

 

Now if only they could add a water fountain at the top and a slide to bring you down. Then you'd have fun for the whole family.

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • As reported yesterday, Eric Wedge still has no plans of dropping Travis Hafner down in the lineup. Wedge says he hasn't looked at the stats even once this spring. He's going by what he and the coaches see in Pronk's at-bats, and what they see is progress.
  • The rest of us finally got a taste of that progress today, as Hafner hit a lined solo shot out to right-center off Padres right-hander Kevin Correia to lead off the second inning. It was Pronk's first homer of the spring and one of the few times he's really driven the ball this month. Alas, Hafner wasn't heard from again in this one. His timing looked off as he struck out against Eulogio De La Cruz in the seventh.
  • Jhonny Peralta will bat in the fifth spot, Wedge said.
  • Some more good news today on Adam Miller, who threw his slider off the mound for the first time since he began this experiment of pitching without the ability to bend the tip of his right middle finger. Pitching coach Carl Willis said Miller's slider is now more of a "slurve." It's a pitch that needs some work, but the results today were positive enough that we can safely say Miller took another step forward.
  • It's interesting to talk to Willis and the others who are involved in this Miller experiment. Willis said one of the first things they did was have Miller try to pitch with a three-finger grip. That didn't work out so well. Miller has reportedly been very thoughtful in this process, asking all the pertinent questions about the potential surgery and what he has to do to avoid it.
  • Jake Westbrook also threw a bullpen today. He's been doing so every Monday and Friday, and that will continue as the Indians leave camp and Westbrook stays behind. Over the course of April, he'll progress to facing live hitters and eventually get into some games. He could be ready to go out on a rehab assignment by mid- to late-May. Today, Westbrook threw 60 fastballs off the mound and 15 curves and changeups off flat ground.
  • Now that Trevor Crowe's on the big club in place of Affliction model David Dellucci, you can pencil him and Ben Francisco in as the backup center fielder. But as Crowe himself pointed out, that's basically a "once a year" kind of job, given Grady Sizemore's penchant for playing every day. Then again, Wedge did say he expects to give Sizemore more time off this season. I guess we'll see about that.
  • Jhonny Peralta booted the first ball hit to him (or anybody) at third base today.
  • Left-hander Shawn Nottingham -- a Canton native acquired as the player to be named later in the trade that brought Shin-Soo Choo from the Mariners for Ben Broussard -- has been traded to the Pirates for a player to be named later. Nottingham split last season between Class A Kinston and Double-A Akron. He went 3-4 with a 4.58 ERA in 14 starts at Kinston and 0-2 with a 7.09 ERA in 19 relief appearances in Akron.
  • The April 10 home opener has officially sold out. The April 11 and 12 games against the Blue Jays still have seats available, including the $32 "All You Can Eat Seats" in the upper deck and the Pepsi half-off tickets in the bleacher, mezzanine and upper box sections. Those games fall under the "spring value" ticket pricing, which is detailed at Indians.com/valuepricing.
  • Speaking of tickets, you do have a birthday, right? Well, the Akron Aeros wish to recognize this incredible feat by providing you with a free ticket to one of their home games during your birthday month. And if you're one of those unfortunate souls with a birthday from September through March, have no fear of discrimination. Those born from January through March will be treated to a game in April, and those born in September through December will get a free ticket to a game in August. Visit www.akronaeros.com and click on the "Free Ticket on Your Birthday" link to register.

~AC

Miller to keep on keeping on

The Indians had low expectations for Adam Miller pitching with decreased range of motion and strength in his right middle finger. It had seemed as though Miller was headed for season-ending and career-threatening surgery to repair the problem.

But after nine throwing sessions, including three bullpens, Miller has had no pain, no inflammation and no further decreases in range of motion, and he’s made enough incremental gains in command and velocity that the Indians now believe he might be able to avoid surgery.

“He’s proven us wrong on all three fronts,” head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff said.

And the Indians, of course, are happy to be wrong, because this means that Miller might once again be able to pitch himself back into their plans.

First things first, though, he must be able to show he can throw and command his slider with the finger predicament. Thus far, he’s thrown nothing but fastballs and changeups. He’ll begin throwing the slider off flat ground Saturday and Sunday before his next bullpen session on Monday.

Miller is far from out of the woods. Because he has altered his release point and his mechanics to compensate for the finger issue (he’s now pushing the ball off his right index finger, whereas he used to push off the middle finger), he is certainly at risk for other injuries. But for now, this is good news on Miller, and the right-hander is apparently pleased with his progress. Soloff said Miller’s demeanor is “night and day” from 10 days ago.

“I think he clearly understands the non-surgical route is an option,” Soloff said, “and it’s becoming more and more of an option each day.”

More info on Indians.com in a little bit.

Miller update coming soon

I’m expecting to get an update on the Adam Miller situation during today’s game, but it sounds like he’s going to continue to stay the course and pitch with decreased range of motion and strength in his right middle finger, rather than undergo season-ending (and career-threatening) surgery.

A full update from head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff to come soon, but that’s what I’m hearing for now.

"Due to our policy of overselling flights, this flight has been oversold."

I am back in the Spring Training saddle after a few days back in the Cleveland tropics. And it's worth noting that my Continental flight from Phoenix to Cleveland was overbooked, as was every other flight between the two destinations that day.

 

As is the case with, well, most things in life, this puzzles me. What does an airline gain by overbooking a flight? Those who were left without a seat -- or those who were willing to give up their seat -- were put up in hotels, placed in first class on another flight and given vouchers for free meals. This can't be a money-making proposition for the airline, can it?

 

I know this much: It's certainly not an inviting scenario for the passenger. You buy a ticket to one flight and end up on another flight on another day. In what other business does this sort of thing occur?

 

I have never bought Bruce Springsteen concert tickets, shown up to the arena and been told, "I'm sorry, but someone else is in your seat. But we'd be happy to give you front-row seats for tomorrow night's Nickelback show." I have never gone to McDonald's, ordered a cheeseburger, paid for it, then been told that they are currently out of cheeseburgers but I can come back the next day for a free one.

 

Well, not yet, anyway.

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • Naturally, the rotation battle was settled in my absence. As much as the word "competition" is thrown around, so much of these supposed spring battles are decided upon long before the team even arrives at camp. So it was refreshing to see a guy like Lewis come into camp and win a job the old-fashioned way. Back in January, Lewis' name was something of an afterthought. I remember Mark Shapiro listing the candidates for the fifth spot in the rotation and almost forgetting to include him.
  • Well, Lewis won the job yesterday, then proceeded to go out and get rocked today. He allowed five runs on eight hits with two walks and two strikeouts in three innings against the Angels. Bobby Abreu, Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter went back-to-back-to-back with solo shots off him in the third. And though it was a windy day at the Big Chipotle, none of these were what you'd call wind-assisted. "He wasn't able to get a feel for the baseball," Eric Wedge said of Lewis. "You look at the way he's pitched, and he was probably due for one of those days."
  • Adam Miller will throw a bullpen session Friday. It will be his third bullpen since being cleared to throw with decreased range of motion and strength in his right middle finger, and it will be his last bullpen before the Indians decide whether to let Miller pitch with the problem or to have him undergo season-ending surgery. Head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff will update the media on the situation, but that update might not come until Saturday. We shall see. For what it's worth, Miller is telling people that he feels pretty good.
  • Masa Kobayashi is showing improvement and not a moment too soon. He worked two perfect innings today, striking out four batters. He's mixing up his pitches better, working in his split-finger fastball more often.
  • Rafael Betancourt stepped off the mound and got looked at by the trainer in the midst of his inning of work. Still not sure what that was all about, but he went on to finish the inning without any problems.
  • For those wondering if the talk about the "dry heat" affecting the flight of the ball in Arizona, PR guru Bart Swain passed along some stats comparing Grapefruit League ERAs to Cactus League ERAs, and there's a discernible difference. The bottom line is that, through yesterday's games, the overall ERA was 4.42 in Florida and 5.68 in Arizona. Also, 10 of the lowest 13 qualifying ERAs among pitchers belonged to guys in the Grapefruit League.
  • Progressive Field press box attendant Joe Corrado is retiring. Corrado spent 59 years with the club at old Cleveland Stadium and the ballpark formerly known as The Jake. He started out as an usher in 1949. He's a good man, and he'll be missed.
  • It's a busy night in the Phoenix area. You've got the Billy Joel-Elton John show at the U.S. Airways Center downtown and the Sweet 16 going on at the University of Phoenix stadium in Glendale. I just hope nobody gets confused and shows up to the concert in their Mizzou gear or the West Regional in their tattered "Storm Front" tour T-shirt.

~AC

I got my finger on the trigger, but I don't know who to trust

One question I keep getting in the wake of yesterday's Adam Miller news is: How is this a career-threatening situation? Even if Miller has to have the surgery, he can still return next year, right?

 

My first reaction is an emotional one: You obviously aren't familiar with Adam Miller's luck, are you?

 

My second is more of a medical one. "Career-threatening" was the grim term used by head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff. In the four years I've been covering this team, I don't believe I've heard Soloff use those words about any injury or any surgery. That's because there is generally a documented precedent for each injury and each surgery, and, therefore, a clearer idea of the chance of recovery.

 

There is no precedent for the surgery Miller would have performed. It's a complicated one, using a tendon from the wrist to replace and act as a ligament in the middle finger. There is no guarantee that it would work. Miller might still not be able to bend the tip of his finger. And if he's not able to pitch with that predicament now, there's no reason to believe he'd be able to pitch with it a year from now.

 

If the surgery does work, and Miller can again bend his finger, you're talking about the loss of another year of development. This kid is a prospect, not a proven Major Leaguer. We have seen him face "Major League" competition once -- and that was back in 2007, before all this finger stuff began to get in the way. And though the results were positive, that was in an exhibition environment, where you take the results with a grain of salt. Miller has great stuff, but so did Fernando Cabrera. There are no guarantees in this sport, even for a player with Miller's talent. And the more time he spends in rehab, the less time he has to develop into a quality Major League pitcher. Additionally, Miller would be at risk for more setbacks such as the ones he's endured here in camp, because the finger is such a narrow and sensitive space.

 

Can Miller's finger, with proper treatment, once again begin bending on its own, without surgery? It doesn't look that way, based on what Soloff told us. He made it sound as though Miller was fortunate to progress as well as he did following surgery last May 27. The stress of Spring Training preparation on Miller's finger caused another breakdown of that pulley system, and surgery appears to be the only way to correct the problem.

 

So, is it definitely career-ending surgery? No. Is it career-threatening? Most definitely. We're talking about unchartered waters and a great risk -- a risk the Indians hope to avoid as Miller attempts to reinvent himself on the mound over the course of the next week.

 

In an unrelated, programming note, that's it for me today. I'll get you caught up on all the "excruciating minutia" from Tribe camp on Friday.

The second cut is the deepest

The Indians trimmed their spring roster by 15 players this morning, sending out several top prospects, a few contenders for the last spot in the big league bullpen and a contender for the last rotation spot.

RHPs John Meloan, Adam Miller and Juan Salas, LHP Tony Sipp and 2B Luis Valbuena were optioned to Triple-A Columbus. RHP Hector Rondon and C Carlos Santana were optioned to Double-A Columbus.

RHP Jack Cassel, LHP David Huff, C Armando Camacaro, 1B Jordan Brown, 3B Wes Hodges, INF Jesus Merchan, 1B Beau Mills and OF Stephen Head were reassigned to Minor League camp.

So strike Huff from the mix for the fifth starting job, which will likely go to Aaron Laffey, with Jeremy Sowers and Scott Lewis also strong in the running. Huff only had two appearances in Cactus League play and seemed to press.

Strike Meloan, Salas and Cassel from the bullpen competition. Zach Jackson, Kirl Saarloos, Vinnie Chulk and Matt Herges are the leading candidates for that job. 

And say goodbye to Santana and Valbuena, who made a strong first impression after their acquisitions in 2008.

There are now 44 players remaining in camp.

UPDATE: Was given incorrect info earlier. Rondon and Santana to Akron, not Columbus.

Adam Miller's career on the line

Adam Miller’s career is very much in jeopardy as a result of decreased range of motion and strength in his right middle finger.

After seeing two hand specialists on Monday and Tuesday, Miller was cleared to attempt to pitch at the Player Development Complex this morning. According to head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff, Miller is experiencing no pain in the finger and he has his normal velocity. But because of his inability to fully bend the tip of the finger, he has none of his customary command of his pitches.

Miller now has a week to 10 days to prove he can adjust to what is essentially a change in anatomy and gain enough command to compete as a professional pitcher. If he doesn’t do so, the Indians will recommend that he has surgery to replace two pulley ligaments in his finger with a tendon from his wrist. If he has the surgery, he will be out of commission for six to nine months, and there is, of course, no guarantee that he’d be able to return to a competitive level.

So it’s not overly dramatic to say the next week to 10 days could decide whether Miller ever pitches for the Cleveland Indians — or anyone else, for that matter.

Why the 7-10 day deadline? Well, from the moment Miller experienced soreness in the finger on Feb. 27, the clock was ticking on the potential effectiveness of the surgical procedure. The longer he waits to have it, the less likely it is that it would be successful.

Why didn’t Miller have this surgery last year? If you remember, at the time, Miller had a hole in the finger that was leaking fluid. The surgery performed by Dr. Tom Graham sealed that hole and repaired one of the pulleys. But Graham could not do the reconstruction because of the risk of infection brought about by the hole.

Obviously, this is a very complicated issue — one I’ll do my best to explain in a story on Indians.com in a little bit. But the gist of it is that Miller threw a bullpen session this morning that was so wild that the Indians’ training and coaching staffs have reason to question whether he will be able to adjust enought to be a competitive professional pitcher. It’s a sad — and I’m sure frustrating — state of affairs for the 24-year-old once known as one of baseball’s top prospects.

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