Results tagged ‘ Adam Miller ’

This is our kingdom of days

We are now three weeks away from Opening Day. In the meantime, here’s the rundown of yet another “day that ends in y” here at Spring Training camp.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • The Indians are today’s featured team on MLB Network’s “30 Clubs in 30 Days.” The first airing has already come and gone, but you can catch repeats at 11 p.m. ET tonight, and 6 a.m., 8 a.m., 10 a.m., noon and 4:30 ET on Tuesday.
  • Shin-Soo Choo did not play in South Korea’s 8-2 win over Mexico in the opener of Round 2 of the World Baseball Classic at San Diego’s Petco Park on Sunday. Choo gets one day off per round.
  • Head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff will update the media on Adam Miller’s finger condition on Wednesday.
  • No player has improved his organizational stock this spring more than Chris Gimenez, who hit the walkoff three-run homer against the Mariners today. He’s proven he can handle his duties behind the plate, the versatility he provides with his ability to play the corner outfield spots and first base is a plus, and he’s been productive with the bat. He won’t crack the Opening Day roster, but he could be one of the first guys the Indians turn to down at Triple-A Columbus, depending on need.
  • Gimenez also won some points with fans today. As I’m typing this, the game ended about 15-20 minutes ago, and Gimenez is still down there signing autographs for fans lined up down the first-base line. He might have to walk back to the complex, as the last shuttle has likely left for the day.
  • A total of seven double plays were turned by the Indians and Mariners today. I neither know nor care if that’s a Cactus League record.
  • What’s more important is that Jeremy Sowers looked good again. He gave up a run on three hits with a walk and two strikeouts in four innings. Afterward, he credited the immortal Sal Fasano with the improvements he’s made in pitch selection. Fasano encouraged Sowers to begin using his two-seamer to right-handers and his four-seamer to left-handers, which Sowers had not done previously. You can read more about Sowers right here.
  • After a slow start, the rotation battle has heated up with the recent performances of Sowers, Aaron Laffey and Scott Lewis. “You like to see what’s happening with multiple guys,” Eric Wedge said.
  • Still waiting for that big hit that announces Travis Hafner is back. He’s driving the ball consistently in BP but that hasn’t translated into the games. Hitting coach Derek Shelton said Hafner’s improvements in approach from last year to this year are noticeable. He said Hafner got into some bad habits last year as a result of the shoulder problem. 
  • Here’s a choice quote from Shelton on outfield prospect Michael Brantley: “When you talk to him, he’s not a 21-year-old kid. His stages of thought and what he watches with pitchers is advanced, and that’s going to help his progression to the big leagues.”
  • Well, now I’m done typing, and Gimenez is just finishing up. He signed for every last fan who waited and even posed for some photos. You’ve got to love that.

~AC

Miller to see hand specialist

The strange saga of Adam Miller’s right middle finger continues.

Here’s the latest update: The good news is that the finger is not giving him any pain; the bad news is that he can’t bend the finger at the distal interphalangeal joint — the joint near the end of the finger, below the nail.

Yep, it’s always something.

As Miller said, “It’s the last thing to touch the ball [when he's throwing], so it’s pretty important.”

Miller first felt a problem with the area on the last pitch of his round of catch on Friday. He was throwing out to 75 feet that day and was expected to throw out to 90 feet today. Instead, he will see Scottsdale hand specialist Dr. Donald Sheridan tomorrow morning. He will also see team hand specialist Dr. Tom Graham, who will be in town for his annual spring visit, on Tuesday.

As you know, Miller’s fickle finger, which was surgically repaired last year and gave him some soreness in camp, already cost him a shot at an Opening Day spot in the bullpen.  

“It’s kind of weird,” Miller said. “I didn’t think you could have this many issues with a finger.”

More updates to come on the site later and in the coming days.

She was shakin', snappin' her fingers

The sweet sounds of Eddie Money’s “Shakin’” are blaring in an empty Goodyear Ballpark as I type this.

Yep, that’s when you know it’s definitely time to punch out for the day.

But before I go…

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • It was already pretty obvious the Indians look at Laffey as their fifth starter-to-be. He is, after all, the only guy competing for the job who has actually gotten the starting nod in each of his appearances. Today he proved he’ll probably win the job, tossing four perfect innings against the A’s and getting eight groundball outs. Really impressive outing, and Laffey’s confidence is demonstrated in this quote: “I’m taking the mindset that it’s already my spot.” That’s the kind of stuff we heard from Cliff Lee last year.
  • Rafael Perez is back after a dominant run (for him, not his team) in the first round of the World Baseball Classic. Perez pitched one inning in each of the Dominican’s three games and was perfect each time, striking out three batters along the way. Eric Wedge said he’ll ease off Perez the next couple days before bringing him back into the exhibition fold. The Indians have no concerns over how he was used in the Classic because each of his outings was so effortless.
  • Zach Jackson also looked pretty good, for the most part, today. He got into some trouble in the eighth when a fastball got away from him and hit Jack Hannahan in the head. Jackson might profile well for that final bullpen spot, because he could give the Indians length and he’s left-handed (complementing the three right-handed starters).
  • Adam Miller began playing catch Wednesday and threw out to 75 feet today. He’ll throw out to 90 feet Sunday. No word on when he’ll go off a mound, but his return-to-throw was expected to last two weeks total.
  • Jake Westbrook threw 15 pitches off the 10-inch mound this morning. He continues to progress nicely in his return from Tommy John.
  • Nice play for the Tribe in the ninth inning today. Cliff Pennington was on third after tripling off Vinnie Chulk with one out. Joe Dillon hit a grounder to short against a drawn-in infield, and non-roster invitee Wilson Valdez scooped it up and made a nice throw home to catcher Chris Gimenez, who applied the tag for the second out.
  • Finally, a big congrats to Frank Viola’s daughter, Brittany, who has been selected to USA Diving’s 2009 World Championships team. She’ll be competing in Rome in July in the 1-meter and 10-meter diving events.

~AC

"This is an astronaut pen. It writes upside down."

My pen ran out of ink the other day, and I pulled out a replacement from the Marriott Courtyard.

Now, any traveling sportswriter worth his credential can be seen at all times with a pen from some form of Marriott, because A. we like free pens and B. we like Marriott points.

What’s interesting — to me, at least — is that the longest-lasting, boldest Marriott pens, by far, come from Fairfield Inns (at the bottom of the totem pole, in terms of hotel quality), while the worst, by far, come from the Marriott or the Renaissance (which rank at the top). The Courtyard falls in the middle realm. This ranking seems a bit counter-intuitive, doesn’t it?

Wow. We are one month into Spring Training camp, and I’m writing about pens. If this isn’t proof that the spring schedule is too long, I don’t know what is.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Let’s shift from pens to ‘pens. Kerry Wood looked excellent yesterday, and Jensen Lewis (no runs allowed, seven strikeouts in six innings) has looked terrific all spring. This bodes well for the Tribe bullpen, which today saw the debut of Joe Smith. He also looked good in tossing a scoreless fourth against the Rockies.
  • The battle for the last bullpen spot is wide open, now that Adam Miller is shut down with that finger soreness. In a perfect world, the Indians would go with a left-hander for that job (which could be sort of a long man position), because they’re expected to have three right-handed starters. But they will go with the best arm, regardless of which arm that happens to be.
  • Kirk Saarloos and Zach Jackson are in the mix for the last rotation job, but they’ll also be considered for the bullpen. Right now, the Indians are impressed with what they’ve seen from non-roster guys like Saarloos, Vinnie Chulk and Jack Cassel. They like Matt Herges but want to get to the point of extending him over two innings (we haven’t seen that from him yet). Juan Salas could join this mix of favorites once he’s built up to pitch two innings.
  • Ed Mujica, out of options, would probably be the favorite for that job if he didn’t look so terrible in Cactus games.
  • When it comes to the rotation battle, Jeremy Sowers had his best outing of the spring, to this point, today. He went three scoreless innings, allowing two hits and no walks with a strikeout. He appeared to have better command of his fastball, and that’s the key to his survival.
  • Cliff Lee labored again. “He got his work in,” as they say when a guy like that struggles in these games. Lee gave up four runs (three earned… though the error was his) on five hits with a walk and three strikeouts in three innings. He threw a lot of fastballs. “It’s good, especially early in the spring, for a starting pitcher to throw a lot of fastballs and work to find their release point,” Eric Wedge said.
  • Grady Sizemore (groin strain) returned to the field today without incident, and Travis Hafner played consecutive days for the first time. Pronk will continue to get ramped up over the next three and a half weeks.
  • Off day tomorrow. A new Inbox will be up on the site. Go Bobcats.

~AC

Miller shut down, and other updates

The Adam Miller finger saga continues, and it’s drastically going to affect his ability to compete for a bullpen spot.

Miller will be shut down another week to 10 days because of soreness in his right middle finger, head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff said. After that period, Miller will begin an expedited return-to-throw program that will last about two weeks. The tentative goal is to get him in about four to six Cactus League games after that point.

Hard to imagine the Indians would see enough of Miller or be confident enough in his finger to bring him north at that point, but you never know.

I’ll have more info on this up on the Indians.com site in a little bit.

Also want to update you on the Shin-Soo Choo situation. I had reported that it was a triceps issue, not an elbow issue. But as any renowned doctor will tell you, the triceps runs just above the elbow, so they can certainly be interrelated.

That being said, by all accounts around here, Choo’s injury does not appear to be serious. Best guess is that he is limited to DH duties for the South Korean team. The Indians’ biggest problem with the situation is that they don’t have their trainers working with Choo. It leads to some uncomfortability. But Choo is the only Major Leaguer on that team and there is a lot of pressure on him to play for his country.

Lastly, I had written that Kerry Wood would throw a bullpen today. If you’re really obsessive, it was actually a live batting practice session. He threw to David Dellucci and Andy Marte, and his slider looked particularly nasty. Wood feels and looks good. He’ll throw a simulated session Saturday and is expected to pitch in Tuesday’s game. 

Let me in the sound

u2-2.jpgI've got to get back to digesting the new U2 album, "No Line on the Horizon," which, upon first listen, sounds a lot like "Zooropa II" -- and that is in no way a compliment. But hey, I'll listen to anything twice.

 

But before I go, allow me to wrap up today's news and notes from before, during and after the Tribe's kiss-your-sister finish with the Royals.

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • It could get crowded at DH on Friday against the Brewers. That's already the targeted debut for Travis Hafner, and now Grady Sizemore's return to the lineup might get pushed back to Friday. The Indians had considered starting Sizemore at DH on Wednesday, but Eric Wedge said he's leaning toward taking advantage of Thursday's off day to give Grady extra time to rest and test that sore left groin. So it's conceivable that you'd see each guy get a couple at-bats Friday.
  • Friday is also the day Cliff Lee makes his Cactus debut and David Dellucci is expected to return after getting three stitches removed from his left thumb.
  • Speaking of Lee, he'll spend part of Thursday's off day flying in an F-16 fighter jet. Luke Air Force Base, located nearby, invited him out to film a public service announcement for their upcoming Air Show and to get a special orientation on the maneuverability of the aircraft from Major Dan "Dutch" Munter.
  • And to think, Lee is the same guy who turned down a World Baseball Classic invitation because he thought it was too dangerous.
  • Wedge's take: "I'm sure [Lee] will throw up all over the place, but other than that, we'll see what happens. He'll be all right. I don't know those guys, but I trust those guys."
  • LHP Tony Sipp looked good in his spring debut, tossing a scoreless inning.
  • Ed Mujica, on the other hand, continues to look like Ed Mujica. Today he came on with the bases loaded and served up a grand slam to Alex Gordon, followed immediately by a solo shot from John Buck. Fighting for a bullpen spot, Mujica now has a 19.64 ERA this spring. Wedge thinks he's trying too hard and therefore overthrowing.
  • No new developments with Adam Miller. He's still resting that sore right middle finger.
  • Joe Smith is still playing catch after missing a week of workouts with a viral infection. No word yet on when he'll start throwing bullpens.
  • When it comes to third base, now that Mark DeRosa's gone, Wedge said he wants to get a good look at Wes Hodges. Jamey Carroll, who started in center today, will also see a good deal of time there. Tony Graffanino, Josh Barfield and, to a much lesser degree, Jhonny Peralta and Andy Marte are also in that third-base mix.
  • The challenge for Josh Barfield in his adaptation to the outfield and third base is his arm strength. Wedge said it's a work in progress as Barfield is still "getting under" some throws.
  • I did a feature on Anthony Reyes and his work with Tom House this offseason. House is the guy known for having his pitchers throw footballs to warm up when he was pitching coach for the Rangers. House, who is now pitching coach at USC, doesn't make his guys do that anymore, but Reyes will fire the pigskin around, anyway. "I'll launch 'em," he said.
  • Finally, a very happy birthday to inimitable Plain Dealer scribe Paul Hoynes.

~AC

"No one gives us the finger! We're Yankees!"

You already know the Indians beat the Rockies today. But in the spirit of the late, great Paul Harvey, allow me to tell you "the rest of the story."

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • Adam Miller will continue to get treatment on his right middle finger for the next couple days before the Indians decide whether or not he's ready to start throwing again. He and the Indians both maintain this is not a serious problem and they're just being cautious.
  • I don't think a middle finger has caused this much trouble since George Costanza rode in a car with Danny Tartabull.
  • Kerry Wood appears to have bounced back nicely from his back soreness. He threw a second 40-pitch bullpen today and will throw live BP on Wednesday. They're targeting early next week for Wood's Cactus debut.
  • Anthony Reyes makes his spring debut Tuesday against the Royals in Surprise. He's had no elbow issues in camp thus far.
  • Cliff Lee will throw a simulated session Tuesday and will probably make his Cactus debut on Friday against the Brewers.
  • Pitching coach Carl Willis said before today's game that we'll see all five candidates for the last rotation spot at least two more times (and keep in mind Zach Jackson and Jeremy Sowers both threw in the game that followed). As the Indians increase the innings doled out to their starters, the competition will get pared down.
  • Stephen Head crashed hard into the wall while trying to catch a foul ball in the first inning of today's game, dropping him to the ground. He was looked over by head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff for a few minutes and remained in the game. He cranked out a two-run single in the bottom of the inning.
  • Gotta love Big Sal going deep in the sixth. Well, unless you're Rich Rundles, who served up the two-run jack to The Mustachioed One.
  • A new Inbox is up and running on the site.

~AC

I have to get up and climb that hill again

The Indians last played at Phoenix Municipal Stadium in 1992. The concourse and press box have been renovated since then. The mountains in the distance, on the other hand, haven't moved.

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • Not sure what to make of the news that Adam Miller has soreness in his right middle finger. Frankly, you take any negative news regarding Miller's physical condition at its worst and work your way down from there. His history has allowed no other perspective. For now, Eric Wedge insists this is nothing major, but I'll provide another update on his condition Sunday.
  • As reported in that Miller story, Travis Hafner and David Dellucci are both expected to join in on the Cactus action later in the coming week. The non-injured Cliff Lee will also make his first start around that time.
  • Apparently the pitchers are now ahead of the hitters, as there was a grand total of six hits today between the Indians and A's.
  • Carl Pavano looked good today -- as good as you can look the first time out. He threw two perfect innings, getting five groundball outs. When asked the last time he felt this good, he replied, "I don't know if I can think back that far."
  • Scott Lewis also pitched well in two scoreless innings. He hit a batter to open one inning and walked a guy to open the other but worked his way out of trouble each time. "The game doesn't speed up on him," Eric Wedge said of Lewis. "He does a good job staying in his tempo and his routine."
  • Matt Cassel, better known as Jack Cassel's brother, was traded from the Patriots to the Chiefs today.
  • Single-game tickets are now on sale for all the Indians' home games. You can get them right here. If you buy four or more tickets today or tomorrow, you get a free Grady Sizemore fleece blanket (and, for the person who asked, it's a different blanket than the one given out at the games last year).
  • Wedge has been impressed with what he's seen from right-hander Hector Rondon, who worked a scoreless eighth. "He has a live arm and a good fastball," Wedge said. Rondon went 11-6 with a 3.60 ERA in 27 starts at Class A Kinston last year and was added to the 40-man roster at season's end.
  • Happy birthday to Indians PR director Bart Swain.

~AC

May the rising sun caress and bless your soul for all your life

I am the proud possessor of my first sunburn of the year. And in a related note, I can vouch for the view of the action at Goodyear Ballpark from the lawn in right-center field.

 

Oh, but I have been working today, too. I swear. Here, I'll even prove it.

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • Third-base coach Joel Skinner, who works with the catchers, had a great line about Carlos Santana. "I keep waiting for the jack in the box to come out," Skinner said. In other words, Skinner, like a lot of other people here, can't believe the Indians got this guy in the Casey Blake trade. There's got to be a catch, right? Maybe not. The Dodgers, who have Russell Martin, obviously dealt from a position of depth, but Santana seems to have serious star potential. Skinner and others are raving about his swing (and remember, he's a switch-hitter, which is a huge plus) and his arm. He's got the perfect catcher's build, to boot.
  • The Indians have four players in Baseball America's Top 100 prospects list. Santana ranks 26th, outfielder Matt LaPorta is No. 27, outfielder Nick Weglarz is No. 58 and right-hander Adam Miller is No. 82. You can find the complete list right here.
  • Michael Brantley is not on that BA list, but he probably should be. Because of his build, his maturity, his skills and the fact that he's only 21 and still improving, some higher-ups around here are starting to think he might be the best player the Indians acquired last summer.
  • Mark DeRosa christened Goodyear Ballpark with its first home run -- a three-run shot in the third. He scooped up a breaking ball tossed by Keiichi Yabu.
  • Ed Mujica looked awesome on the back fields in live BP. Today, Ed Mujica looked like Ed Mujica.
  • Wedge thought both Mujica (4 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 1 IP) and Vinnie Chulk (3 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 1 K) were overthrowing. "If you do that, you open up and you're not the same guy," Wedge said.
  • If you're looking for a little background on Juan Salas, my MLB.com amigo Jesse Sanchez had a nice blog posting on him last August that you might want to check out.
  • More BP on Field No. 1 for Travis Hafner this morning. And for what it's worth, he hit a couple shots that cleared the scoreboard in right-center field. Victor Martinez also had a nice round of BP, spraying balls to both sides of the field.
  • Another choice quote from Rapid Robert: "If the ballclub's as good as the facilities, they ought to win the World Series in four games."

 ~AC

From the churches to the jails, tonight all is silence in the world

It's a low-key Sunday at the PDC.

 

Oh, for the record, I'm taking the advice of one reader and, from this point forward, referring to the Cleveland Indians Player Development Complex as the PDC. I figure over the course of a seven-week spring camp, this little abbreviation will save me two minutes and one second of typing time, and I plan to spend that 2:01 doing something much more productive - like, say, watching this.

 

(Quick digression: Did you know they've sold more than four million Snuggies? Recession? What recession?)

 

(Quick digression No. 2: My buddy Tobin, however, rails against the Snuggie as a blatant ripoff of the Slanket, which he purchased about four years ago... for $70! When I teased him about the price, he made the astute comment that the first guy to buy a CD player probably didn't care about the price, either. He simply had the foresight to know a great product when he saw it. Hard to dispute that.)

 

Anyway, position players officially reported today -- even though virtually all of them were already here. On the back fields, pitchers and catchers held their second workout.

 

Now, I know some of you might someday visit the PDC, so I’ve been trying to look at this new place from a fan’s perspective. Anyone who visited Chain of Lakes Park knows what a special spot that was to get up close and personal with the team. You could hang out by the weight room, you could walk amongst players headed to the practice fields and you could wait by the Tribe’s bullpen during and after games to get easy access for autographs.

 

The Goodyear facility, as expected, isn’t nearly as accommodating. But there is an area to the side of Field No. 6 where fans can meander freely. A few of them were hanging out there yesterday, and several players stopped to sign between drills. I’m not sure what kind of access fans will have at the ballpark. We’ll see when the games start.

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

 

  • More PFPs and bullpen sessions today. I get paid to watch baseball, and, believe me, I know this is a privilege. But the list of things I’d rather watch than PFPs includes a wide variety of eye-sores, including but not limited to “Weekend at Bernie’s II” (I did that just to satisfy the handful of you who still e-mail me about “Weekend at Bernie’s II,” three years after the joke went cold… not that it was ever warm.)
     
  • As for the bullpens, 13 guys threw this morning, including Kerry Wood and Carl Pavano, who made what I’d guess you’d call their first official appearances in front of the Tribe brass. Wood is listed at 6-foot-5, 211 pounds, while Pavano is listed at 6-foot-5, 240. Sometimes the media guide listings are exaggerations, but not here. They both look healthy and strong. “You put Wood and Pavano together,” Eric Wedge said, “and you’ve got two big-league bodies right there.”
     
  • Speaking of healthy and strong, Adam Miller threw today, and he also looked good. He said the only restriction he’ll probably have in camp is throwing on back-to-back days at the outset.
     
  • I’m no scout, but I know a sweet swing when I see one, and Carlos Santana has got one.
     
  • Left-hander Ryan Edell threw today. He’s a guy who has flown under the radar a bit, but he spent all of last season in the Double-A Akron rotation and went 7-8 with a 3.80 ERA in 26 starts. What’s most impressive is that he struck out 99 and walked just 21 in 144 1/3 innings. His ability to paint the plate with strikes is considered his greatest strength, and he can work it in to right-handers. He’ll remain in a starting role, but if he has a big-league future, it’s probably in the ‘pen.

 

~AC

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