Results tagged ‘ Cliff Lee ’
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.
And 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.
You know, it’s not every day you can walk to the press box bathroom and pass a former president along the way.
Then again, not every day is Opening Day. It’s a special day, whether or not President George W. Bush is in attendance.
“I think it spurs emotions that a lot of times most people don’t feel,” Eric Wedge said. “I think that’s what people like about Opening Day. I let that in. I think it’s important to feel that. I’ll stiff arm a lot of that stuff, but… if you love the game of baseball and you appreciate and respect the fans who pay their money and the players that work so hard to be the best in the world, I think that’s something we all owe to ourselves.”
It’s a day of hope. A day of opportunity. A day when all is right with the world and the best is yet to come.
Well, until Cliff Lee coughs up seven runs in five innings, and the good people of Cleveland drive home from work in an April 6 snow shower. Then it’s back to square one.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…
- I’m already getting the messages of panic from Tribe fans regarding Cliff Lee and his Opening Day dud against the Rangers. One former Indians.com scribe, who shall remain nameless, is insistent that the Indians should have traded Lee this offseason, while his value was at its peak. This, of course, is how Cleveland sports fans react to such things. It’s their nature, and I suppose it’s understandable.
- On my end, I’m not sure what to make of Lee’s struggles this spring and in this start. His velocity is intact, and his command doesn’t appear to be too terribly out of whack. It’s worth keeping in mind that he’s never really pitched well in this ballpark (3-3, 9.19 ERA in six career starts here). Today’s loss boiled down to a poorly pitched second inning and one particularly bad pitch to Blalock in the fifth. The looming question is whether those rough patches are going to creep up once or twice in each of his outings (they were rare, at best, in ’08). If they do, it’s going to be a long year.
- For the record, Lee said the Blalock one-hopper that dotted his forearm in the second played no part in everything that transpired afterward.
- You can tell when Wedge is upset with the offensive effort and, conversely, when he’s genuinely impressed with what he saw from the opposing pitcher. Today, he was definitely impressed with Millwood. Still, the Indians didn’t notch so much as an extra-base hit against Millwood or the Texas bullpen.
- I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Texas crowd on Opening Day. Every other time I’ve been here, the place is half-empty… if that. But arriving this morning around 9:30 a.m., the parking lots were all packed with tailgaters braving the 45-degree weather (which is downright arctic in these parts).
- The players were all excited to meet the former president. He went around the locker room about an hour before first pitch, signed a ball and took a picture with pretty much every player and coach.
- No one was more excited than Shoppach, an unabashed Bush fan. Bush apparently told Shoppach he remembers him from his Baylor days (Bush’s Crawford, Texas, ranch is near Baylor’s campus in Waco). “That got me pumped up,” Shoppach said. Either Shoppach was a truly memorable college player, or Bush’s secret service guys do their homework ahead of time.
- For the record, I nodded at Bush as I passed him in the hallway and said hello. He was en route to the Rangers’ broadcast booth and didn’t nod back. Didn’t he realize I come from a key swing state?
One of my favorite annual rites of spring is raiding PR guru Bart Swain’s CD collection. And with spring winding down and my ears still ringing, I thought I’d bring you another scintillating installment of The Three-Word Music Review:
Blitzen Trapper: “Furr” – I support PETA.
“Heading West” (Starbucks compilation) — Good driving tunes.
Mark Knopfler: “Shangri-La” – I’m rah-rah (Does that count as three words, or two? I don’t even know.).
Randy Newman: “Harps and Angels” — Yawns and boredom.
Ryan Adams and the Cardinals: “Cardinology” – Has its moments.
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss: “Raising Sand” — Worthy of Grammy.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…
- A telling postgame from Eric Wedge today. After a 14-14 tie that clearly was a “hitters’ day,” in the skipper’s words, Wedge showed no concern over Cliff Lee (seven runs on nine hits, including three homers, over five innings). “I thought the ball came out of Cliff’s hand pretty good,” Wedge said. “He had a real good breaking ball. His changeup was a little firm at times, but he had good fastball command.”
- So Wedge was asked if it was the same deal with Masa Kobayashi (five runs on five hits, including a homer, in one inning). “No, Masa was a little flat,” Wedge quickly countered. “He was up and flat and threw a few too many fastballs.”
- Wedge said Kobayashi pitched better after Carl Willis visited him on the mound and told him to work in his split-fingered fastball and slider a little more. It appears Kobayashi’s been a little stubborn with a fastball that clearly isn’t working for him.
- Ken Griffey Jr., who could be 76 and probably still have the sweetest swing in baseball, torched Kobayashi for a two-run homer in the seventh. I was stunned to see that was only the second homer allowed by Kobayashi this spring. It feels like more than that, probably because he’s given up 20 hits in 11 innings.
- I hate to be overly negative, but this would be a good time to start up a “Kobayashi optioned/released” office pool. If you do, sign me up for April 27 (and that’s being really generous).
- I’ll reiterate that it was a hitters’ day, but this was nonetheless Travis Hafner’s strongest showing of the spring. He went 3-for-6 with a homer and two RBIs. Unlike his blast the other day – when the Padres’ Kevin Correia hung him a breaking ball that any Major League hitter worth his pine tar would have hit out — this one was impressive. Pronk scooped out a slider and pulled it out to right.
- Franklin Gutierrez had two strong days against his former team in this home-and-home series. Today he went 3-for-5 with a double, triple and three runs scored out of the leadoff spot. He has a nice opportunity in Seattle.
- Wedge on Ed Mujica, dealt to the Padres: “I feel like he’s had a strong progression here. Just for us, it’s more of a timing thing and what we needed out of that final [bullpen] spot.”
The padres.com headline says, “Padres enhance bullpen with Mujica.” If that doesn’t tell you all you need to know about the Padres and their bullpen, nothing will.
- Kerry Wood talked about the Arizona elements and their affect on pitchers. He said he always leaves here feeling like his slider is much worse than it actually is. Oh, and Wood worked another perfect inning today. His spring ERA is a sparkling 0.00 in six innings, and his arm action and raw stuff are nothing short of impressive.
- For what it’s worth, Wood has grown out a full goatee. He said he won’t shave it until he gives up some runs.
- Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s “Working on a Dream” tour kicks off tonight in San Jose. Be excited, and celebrate accordingly.
Spring Training is six weeks old (and counting), and the upcoming regular season is six months long.
That's a lot of time for a ballclub and its fans to get emotionally off-track, so a little daily affirmation could be in order.
With this notion in mind, I submit to you a proposal that you all stock up on your copy of the "Cheers to You" CD now, while supplies are still in stock. You can do it! I believe in you!
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...
The Indians looked lethargic and in need of "Cheers to You" agains the Giants today. Asdrubal Cabrera and Josh Barfield each made an error and, in general, guys were slow to get to balls and quick to make outs. "We're entering unchartered waters, in regard to the length of camp," Eric Wedge said. "We've got to sharpen ourselves and pick it up this final week, no doubt about it."
Cliff Lee was roughed up again -- eight runs (seven earned) on 12 hits with no walks and six strikeouts over five innings. He was much better late than early, and his defense didn't play well behind him, but it's still not the type of performance you expect from the reigning Cy Young winner in his penultimate spring tuneup. "It's definitely a little harder to get up for a game in Spring Training than it is in the regular season," Lee said. "It's a different intensity. But I've still go to work on locating my pitches and getting better at something each time I'm out there."
The rather uneventful battle to be the guy sitting on the bench, occasionally but not too frequently inserted into the lineup and a little-more-occasionally inserted as a pinch-runner will probably draw to its anticlimactic close tomorrow or Sunday. It's still expected to go to Barfield, who started in left field today.
Barfield still hasn't caught on at the plate. The Indians feel he has a better approach, but the results haven't been there. Barfield is an excellent athlete and a great guy, so you root for him to catch on in this utility role, because it's difficult to imagine him once again emerging as an everyday player... at least, in this organization.
There's only one spot open on the bench. David Dellucci is indeed on the club. Or at least, "as of today," as Wedge said. Obviously, Dellucci's roster spot (and Masa Kobayashi's, for that matter) is tenuous, but it looks like the Indians will at least give him the benefit of the doubt at the outset of the season. He's still not expected to play much as the fourth outfielder, especially with Mark DeRosa and, I'm assuming, Barfield in the outfield mix.
Trevor Crowe won't win the job. Wedge said Crowe is "still not exactly where he needs to be," and he's better off, in terms of development, getting regular starts in Triple-A.
Tony Graffanino won't win the job. He's had a nice camp and can bounce around the infield. But the Indians don't have a need for another veteran infielder in his mid-30s. They need speed off the bench, and it looks like Barfield will be the one to provide it.
Of course, we knew that in February, didn't we?
While the bench job announcement is impending, it will probably be a few days before we know the winner of that seventh bullpen spot. Though Wedge won't call it a "long man" role, for all intents and purposes that's what it is, which is why Zach Jackson is a favorite and Vinnie Chulk will be stretched out to pitch two or three innings Saturday in Tucson. Jackson, who is already stretched out as a result of his inclusion in the rotation battle, will start that game.
You have to figure Jackson is the favorite for that job. Though he has a fourth Minor League option available, he's already on the 40-man, whereas Chulk would have to be added. And the Indians would have about six weeks to look at Chulk in Triple-A before they have to act on him. He has an out clause in his contract that kicks in May 15.
Rafael Betancourt was relieved mid-inning by Joe Smith today. It had nothing to do with the neck kink that Betancourt suffered while on the mound yesterday. Betancourt (two runs on two hits in two-thirds of an inning) is fine physically. Wedge said he wanted an opportunity to get Smith into the middle of an inning.
I'm sending a shout-out to my buddy Big Bob Petriella, who was in attendance today. We used to work as sports clerks together at the News-Herald in Willoughby, Ohio, in our youth. Until today, he had no idea I had this blog, so perhaps I can use this space to rip him.
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.
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.
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.
Ah, the first off day of the spring. It is finally here, and I plan to soak it up like a real Arizonian — 18 holes of golf in the morning, laying by the pool in the afternoon (hopefully there won’t be any big grains of salt floating in my margarita), and a little wining and dining at night.
That’s the plan, at least. Sometimes these things have a way of deviating into sitting on the couch watching “Wonder Years” reruns.
Hey, either way, it’s OK.
But before I flick the switch, let’s give you the requisite news and notes from before, during and after today’s game against the Cubs.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…
- Now it sounds like Grady Sizemore (sore left groin) won’t be in Friday’s lineup. Rather, the Indians will test out his legs by having him do some running and shag work. He’ll then be evaluated Saturday. He could be in the lineup then or early next week.
- Cliff Lee, Travis Hafner and David Dellucci are all a go for Friday. That is, assuming Lee isn’t too dizzy from his F-16 trial.
- How does Mark Shapiro feel about his Cy Young winner breaking the sound barrier? “As long as he’s not the one flying [the F-16], I’m OK with it,” he said. Lee should be in good hands.
- A couple weeks back, I told you Fausto Carmona was looking a little plump in the gut. He appears to have tamed that little issue — the last thing the Indians need is another abdominal/oblique strain for a prominent member of their starting rotation — for the time being. “I lost a couple pounds,” he said today. “I don’t know how many, but I feel better now.”
- Pitching coach Carl Willis said Carmona will need to be careful in that department: “He has to watch it, because, if it gets away from him, he could get behind the eight ball really quick."
- As for Carmona's performance, he was a little more erratic this time than the last, but he still turned in two scoreless innings.
- Carl Pavano had a rough one -- three runs on four hits with a walk and a strikeout in two innings. But he maintains that he feels great.
- Juan Salas got the save today and has now pitched two scoreless innings in garbage time. "He has a lot of action on the plate and a loose arm," Wedge said.
- Big, Bad Beau Mills went deep with a two-run shot off Chad Gaudin in the first inning. Wedge was really impressed with the way Mills carried himself last year in camp, and that opinion hasn't changed. "He still needs a lot of work at first base," Wedge said. "But with his aptitude, he'll pick it up quick."
- Jensen Lewis is off to a much better start this year than last. His velocity appears to be where it needs to be this time of year, and he's rattled off three scoreless innings in three appearances.
- Still waiting for "No Line on the Horizon" to grow on me, but I agree with the reader who spoke fondly of "Magnificent." Good track. One of the few on there.
I'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.
Players aren’t the only ones spoiled at the Indians’ new Spring Training home. We media types also get treated pretty well.
As I write this, I’m sitting in a cushioned swivel chair in a Goodyear Ballpark press box that contains a media dining room, wireless Internet access and working phone lines.
It’s a far, far cry from the folding chairs and the outdoor, dirt-covered, technologically challenged environment in which we worked at Chain of Lakes in Winter Haven.
It was about two years ago at this time when that box was visited by a five-foot black snake (it was actually only about three feet long, but I will add one foot to its length every year to embellish the tale). In my mind’s eye, I can still see it slithering behind my laptop. It made its way several yards to my left before a grounds crew member arrived, grabbed it with his bare hands, whipped it around his head a few times, then tossed it to its freedom behind the ballpark.
Consider this my ode to that snake and to that box. Sure, we have all the acoutrements a modern sportswriter could need. But where’s the sense of adventure?
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…
- First off, glad to hear Torey Lovullo is relatively OK after getting struck with a broken bat above the left eye Sunday. The curse of the maple bats lives on, despite MLB’s new regulations. Lovullo had nine stitches above his eye, which is swollen shut, but he was lucky to be wearing sunglasses at the time of the incident. The damage could have been much worse.
- Lovullo was struck because the bat bounced off the netting atop the Indians’ dugout and hit him as he turned his head to see where it went. But this is no knock on the netting, which extends to the end of each dugout at Goodyear Ballpark. The fans sitting in the first row behind the dugout were no doubt happy the netting was there, and I’ve always been in support of MLB mandating that every ballpark install such a safety precaution.
- Grady Sizemore (sore left groin) might be ready to DH by Wednesday. He took some BP and played catch today and will be evaluated again tomorrow. He hasn’t done any running or any activity with his lower half.
- Cliff Lee threw a two-inning simulated session today. He faced Victor Martinez, Travis Hafner and David Dellucci. Lee is slated to make his Cactus League debut Friday against the Brewers.
- RHP Anthony Reyes isn’t the only guy making his spring debut in tomorrow’s game agains the Rangers. LHP Tony Sipp, who has been about a week behind because of left shoudler tendinitis that sprouted up last fall, is also in the mix for the game in Surprise.
- The Rangers batted out of order in the sixth inning of today’s game, but the Indians either didn’t notice or didn’t care enough to point it out to the umpires. Travis Metcalf, who replaced No. 3 hitter Michael Young, was supposed to lead off the inning. Instead, cleanup hitter Andruw Jones led off and Metcalf batted second.
- Aaron Laffey had a rough second inning today but shook it off as fate conspiring against him. He said he was happy with his stuff.
- Always nice to catch up with Omar, although he kind of threw his 13-year-old son, Nico, under the bus. When asked if Nico plays ball, Omar said, “Nah, he’s lazy. I think living in Seattle got to him. People there sit behind desks and use computers.” He said Nico is more into playing his electric guitar than picking up a bat.
- Eric Wedge on Wes Hodges, who went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored today: “For a young hitter with some power, he stays in the middle of the field as well as any young hitter I’ve seen.” On the defensive side, Hodges made a throwing error at third.
- The other day, I told you Rafael Betancourt was introduced by the Goodyear Ballpark PA guy as “John Betancourt.” Today, Tomo Ohka was “Mister Ohka.” This guy… is struggling.
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.
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