Results tagged ‘ Ben Francisco ’

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

The Irish been coming here for years, acting like they own the place

St. Patrick's Day is a really divisive holiday for me. When I'm not working, it is, without question, one of the best days of the year. And when I am working, it is, without question, one of the most obnoxious days of the year.


fourleafclover.jpg 

If you're neither Irish nor inebriated, this holiday does nothing for you. If you're not a fan of corned beef or soda bread, all you've got is a bunch of goofs wearing T-shirts with ridiculous expressions like "Erin Go Braless" or saying annoying things like "Top o' the mornin' to ya!"

 

Ah, maybe I'm just jealous. Pass the Tullamore Dew. I need to get in the holiday spirit.

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • Wow. Cliff Lee took quite a lump today -- 10 runs (nine earned) on 11 hits with a walk and two strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings. It reads as bad as it looked, and it looked heinous. Lee said he was just trying to locate his fastballs today. And I could definitely locate them. There was one that landed near the warning track in right, there was one off the center-field wall, there was one that cruised past his left ear on a liner up the middle.... well, you get the idea.
  • That being said, Lee had a point. He was basically throwing nothing but fastballs. Only five or six of his 60-some pitches were offspeed. He was throwing fastballs in counts he'd never throw them in-season, and he said he also took into account the fact that he'll be facing this Rangers team in less than three weeks, when the games count.
  • By the way, Lee had a 5.68 ERA and a .342 average against last spring -- and that's when he was competing for a job. I know those numbers aren't as bad as the 18.90 ERA he's carrying now, but it's just another demonstration that we shouldn't put too much weight into what happens out here. So don't panic yet.
  • Well, unless you were counting on Masa Kobayashi to be a go-to setup man. In that case, yes, now would be a good time to panic. But Eric Wedge thought he looked better today.
  • Travis Hafner will begin to see some action in Minor League games in the coming weeks, for a couple reasons. It gives him extra repetitions, for one. But after Wednesday's off day, nine of the Indians' remaining 10 exhibition road games will be against National League teams. Thus far, the Indians haven't had a single road game in which the DH wasn't utilized, but that's sure to change as we get closer to the regular season.
  • Let's talk about the batting order. We know, of course, that Grady Sizemore is going to lead off. We know Mark DeRosa is batting second. We know Wedge prefers to have Hafner at No. 3 and Victor Martinez at cleanup. But Wedge said today he puts Hafner, Martinez and Jhonny Peralta (who was excellent at No. 4 last year) in those Nos. 3-5 spots, and he's still not sure of the order or even if it will be static.
  • Moving down the order, Wedge said Asdrubal Cabrera will remain in the Nos. 8 or 9 spots. He likes the protection that affords the young Cabrera, though he still sees him potentially working his way back up to No. 2 (where he thrived at the end of '07) someday. That leaves Shin-Soo Choo, Ben Francisco and Kelly Shoppach/Ryan Garko somewhere in the Nos. 6-9 mix, with the order depending on the day and opposing pitcher.
  • How would you organize the lineup? I'd go with Choo at No. 3, Peralta at No. 4, Martinez at No. 5 and Hafner at No. 6 at the outset. It's too early to know what the Indians will get out of Pronk, so I would bump him down and ease the pressure on him.
  • Peralta started at third today. That's his second appearance there this spring. "We just want to give him some repetitions," Wedge said, "so that if we do need him [at third], he's been there." Cabrera started at short.
  • Kirk Saarloos came on in emergency relief of Lee in the third inning and held the Rangers scoreless for 1 1/3 innings. It was a nice audition for that long relief role.
  • A guy dressed in costume as a gigantic Dunkin' Donuts coffee cup came into the PDC this morning with about four or five dozen free donuts for all the players. Well, it's 2009. The coffee cup should have known that the modern athlete is prohibited (at work and under the supervision of a team of athletic trainers, anyway) from eating such garbage.
  • So, guess who got all the donuts? Yes, media membership has its privileges.

~AC

Don't let 'em take me to the Cadillac Ranch

...but you can take me to the Camelback Ranch, spring home of the White Sox and Dodgers. It's another beautiful ballpark, with a unique sandstone exterior.

 

But an afternoon at the Camelback is in no way worth the $90 the Dodgers have the audacity to charge to sit in the Home Plate Club ($100 for "premium" spring games, as if such a thing even exists). Manny or no Manny, that's just nuts.

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • Grady Sizemore started at DH for the second straight day and went 3-for-3 with two runs and two RBIs against the White Sox. He'll play again Wednesday and will return to the field. He said his groin's feeling good -- no issues running the bases in-game or shagging fly balls during the morning workouts.
  • I have to say... There's nothing I enjoy less about this job than occasionally having to ask guys about the state of their groin.
  • Not only did South Korea advance to the second round of the World Baseball Classic, but the Koreans won Pool A. They defeated Japan, 1-0, this morning. It was Shin-Soo Choo's day off. Part of the agreement between the Indians and South Korea is that Choo will get one day off per pool. The Koreans move on to San Diego for Round 2, which begins March 15. They will train in Arizona, so the Indians' trainers will get a look at Choo's sore left triceps. He's expected to be here tomorrow, according to Eric Wedge.
  • Speaking of the Classic, in case you missed it, Mark DeRosa had four RBIs in Team USA's rout of Venezuela yesterday. He played both left field and third base.
  • Anthony Reyes looked really good today -- three scoreless innings, one walk, three strikeouts. He said this is the best he's felt since 2005, so that's encouraging for an Indians team that could really use a boost in the back end of the rotation.
  • David Huff threw two innings in a simulated game on one of the back fields this morning. He'll be in a Cactus game later this week. It will be just his second appearance in a "real" exhibition game. "We extended him last year, innings-wise, so we wanted to make sure we handled him appropriately this spring," Wedge said.
  • Ed Mujica also threw two innings in the sim game. "He looked good," Wedge said. "You know, he was really throwing the ball well early in camp in his bullpens. He's been trying to do a little too much in games. So we wanted to pull him back and let him relax a little bit and just let the ball go a little more free and easy." The ball certainly went off the bat of Wes Hodges, who took Mujica deep.
  • Kerry Wood will appear against the Angels in Tempe tomorrow, and Joe Smith will appear against the Rockies on Wednesday.
  • According to date in John Dewan's new "The Fielding Bible -- Volume II," the Indians ranked eighth in baseball last year in defensive runs saved, with 29. Dewan points out that Ben Francisco saved 12, while Franklin Gutierrez saved 24. With Gutierrez gone and Choo -- rated by Dewan as "average" in defensive runs saved -- starting in right, Dewan is speculating that the Tribe's defensive ranking may drop this year.
  • Minor League right-hander Neil Wagner has begun blogging. Check it out right here.

~AC

(Clarence Clemons' saxophone solo in "Jungleland")

Today's blog headline goes out to the Indians' resident iTrac vision training specialist Jason Stein, also known in these parts as the "Master of Self-Promotion."

 

Stein and I don't see eye to eye on, well, anything, and not just because he's taller than me. One of our many arguments yesterday centered on music. He claimed that Bruce Springsteen's "Jungleland" (referenced in yesterday's blog headline) has a superfluous saxophone solo, while I claim that the solo is the greatest saxophone solo in rock history (granted, it didn't have a heck of a lot of real competition for this honor, but it's an honor, nonetheless), and, therefore, integral to the song's beauty.


clemons.jpg 

Stein's contention was that he listens to music for the lyrics, and he said the simple fact that you can't "quote" a saxophone solo in my blog postings is proof enough that the musical interludes don't matter.

 

So, out of pure spite, I'm sticking it to Stein with The Big Man's solo today, in headline form. If you close your eyes, I swear you can hear it. Or you can just watch it here.

 

If you can't tell from the above post, it's another slow day in camp. And let's face it... this is what you might call a trend. The early days of camp are always rather mundane, but at least it gives us plenty of time to bicker over Bruce.

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • Pitching coach Carl Willis said Kerry Wood looked good yesterday -- too good, in fact. Wood's stuff is way ahead of where it needs to be this time of year. "He was impressive, to say the least," Willis said, shaking his head. "By no means was he out of control, but we might have to slow him down a tad."
     
  • In the clubhouse this morning, after PFPs had wrapped up, several of the pitchers were watching a show about Game 7 of the '97 World Series on the MLB Network. Jensen Lewis said he still remembers watching that game on his couch. "I rubbed my face raw with nerves," he said.
     
  • The position players took BP for the first time on Field No. 1 this morning. That's the one with the exact dimensions of Progressive Field.
     
  • The full-squad is in-house. In fact, the addition of Tony Graffanino means an even 60 players are in camp. So each and every one of the 60 lockers in the Indians' clubhouse is spoken for. Lots of elbow-bumping going on.
     
  • Position players took their physicals. Their two-on-one meetings with Eric Wedge and Mark Shapiro have been pushed back because of Shapiro's absence due to a death in the family. When Shapiro returns this week, the meetings will be spread out over the course of three days.
     
  • One number change this year: Jamey Carroll has given up No. 7 to Mark DeRosa and taken No. 11. Carroll was hoping he might get something in return for the number (a nice steak dinner, perhaps?), but it hasn't happened yet. And Carroll is already justifying the situation by praising his new number. "It's a one for each kid," said Carroll, whose wife, Kim, gave birth to twins last year.
     
  • Josh Weir of the Canton Repository pointed out that Ben Francisco and Shin-Soo Choo each have exactly 509 Major League at-bats under their belt. What are the odds of that? (Note: Please don't conjure up some scientific formula that proves the odds were actually quite good, thereby making me look like an idiot. Please.)
     
  • You knew this story was coming, and it's a shame. Winter Haven businesses will be hurt by the Indians' absence. One estimate is that Spring Training generated $25 million in economic impact for the city each year.
     
  • Finally, it just dawned on me that Richie Cannata's sax solo on Billy Joel's "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant" is also quite good. Not "Jungleland" good, but still good.

~AC

 

UPDATE: Wedge said, in general, he was happy with the shape guys reported in. But without naming names, he said, "There's always a couple that don't look quite how you want them to." Then he added sarcastically, "It's not like you have anything to get in shape for."

 

UPDATE No. 2: Alto Reed. "Turn the Page." How did I forget that one? Yes, yes, that definitely needs consideration for top sax solo. I'm biased, of course, so I'd still list The Big Man at No. 1, but Alto's up there. And does anybody know his real name? It can't be Alto Reed, right? This has always bugged me, but I've never seen an original name. If his birth name really was Alto Reed, he had no choice but to become a saxophonist. It's the same as that old Seinfeld bit about naming your kid Jeeves and, thus, sealing his fate as a butler. Then again, if you're named Jeeves, you can also become the guy who answers everybody's questions on the Internet. OK, I'm rambling. 

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