Results tagged ‘ Cliff Lee ’

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

"It's a dog-eat-dog world, Woody, and I'm wearing Milk-Bone underwear"

cliff1.JPGIt appears we solved the mysteries and vagaries of time travel in yesterday's post, which was no small feat.

 

Now I pose to you a much simpler question: If you had a dog (and maybe you do), what would you name it?

 

I ask because it appears to me that many of you are absolutely obsessed with the Indians. You might even be as obsessed as my friend Megan, who wimped out with regard to a previously stated goal of getting a Chief Wahoo tattoo but did recently become the owner of a French bulldog puppy, named Cliff (that's him on the right... apparently he's named after some pitcher).


  

Anybody else have a Tribe-inspired pet name? An Italian greyhound named Fasano, perhaps?

 

I'll confess this post really just had two goals: Giving Cliff some blog love and working the above "Cheers" quote into a headline. Now that those are accomplished, let's talk about what's happening on this lovely Wednesday.

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • Really interesting story out of the Nationals' camp, where it's been revealed that one of the organization's top prospects, 19-year-old Esmailyn Gonzalez, is actually a 23-year-old named Carlos Alvarez Daniel Lugo. The Nats had signed "Gonzalez" in the summer of '06 and given him a $1.4 million bonus. He was supposed to represent a big piece of their future.
  • The Gonzalez story has the potential to impact, well, pretty much every team in baseball (the Indians included), because they use the same system to verify the age and identities of international players. The system was put in place by MLB in the last four or five years to put an end to the chaotic nature of the international scouting scene and do intensive background checks on potential prospects. Plenty of questions are no doubt being asked right now about what the heck happened with Gonzalez.
  • Today was the first day of live BP, which means Indians pitchers were throwing to Indians hitters. This is always pretty fun to watch. Fausto Carmona and Cliff Lee were among those on the mound today. And believe it or not, Ed Mujica looked pretty nasty, breaking the bats of Victor Martinez and Josh Barfield.
  • The Indians also spent a good part of the morning working on their bunt defense.
  • Eric Wedge was talking about the mental makeup it takes to be a good closer. He said we'll never know what it's like to be on the mound in the ninth inning with the game on the line, and a pitcher's potential for that role can never be known until he's tested. "It's like if you're stuck on an elevator between the 25th and 26th floor with three other people," Wedge said. "You're going to find out about people." 
  • Wedge said he's been particularly impressed with reliever Joe Smith in the early going. "He sticks out a little bit," Wedge said.
  • Representatives from the Phoenix police department came and spoke to the players this morning, making sure they are aware that the highways here have cameras that can and will catch you speeding and the rules regarding alcohol and marijuana are particularly strict.
  • Former Tribe catcher Eddie Taubensee was also in the clubhouse today, spreading the word about a ministry he's involved in that caters to professional athletes.
  • MLB.com has started up a new injuries page, so all of you preparing for your fantasy drafts might find it to be a good resource.
  • The next installment of the Indians Inbox will run on Indians.com tomorrow.

~AC 

I think I'm out of my mind, thinking about time

This is my first extended exposure to Mountain Time, which is, by far, the most interesting of the U.S. time zones (I mean, assuming time zones can, in fact, be interesting, which is completely debatable).

 clock.jpg

At present, we are two hours behind those of you back home in Cleveland. At some point in March, this will change, and we will be three hours behind. At this rate of progression, by December, the good people of Arizona will be 12 hours behind Cleveland. Craziness.

 

Those of you who saw my oversized picture posting yesterday know I struggle a bit with photos (that little problem has been corrected below, thanks to reader Casey W.). And it just so happens I struggle with numbers, too. As a result, there's a math problem I'm trying to get my head around, and I'm looking for your assistance:

 

My girlfriend's coming to town the weekend of the daylight savings change. When she leaves Cleveland on a Thursday evening and flies to Phoenix, she will gain two hours. The time will change in Cleveland on Saturday night, jumping ahead an hour, but it will remain the same here. She will fly back to Cleveland on Monday and lose three hours.

 

Where does all this change leave her internal clock? An hour ahead? An hour behind? Exactly the same? I wouldn't be so confused if it weren't for that wrinkle in which the time remains the same here but changes there. How does that figure?

 

And this leads to another, much more advanced question. Is it possible, over the course of a lifetime, to gain an entire extra day of internal clock time, simply by jumping around time zones? In other words, could you live for, say, 30,000 calendar days, but your body clock actually ticks for 30,001 days?

 

I think I just blew my own mind -- and hopefully yours.

 

Now, let's try to regroup and talk about the Indians' first full-squad workout day.

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • A-Rod was, once again, the story of the day in baseball, but not necessarily here. I'm sure more guys would have watched A-Rod's press conference, but the huge televisions that hang in the clubhouse have already malfunctioned. A maintenance guy was working on them. "We forgot to pay our cable bill," one clubbie joked.
  • Cliff Lee, however, still managed to watch the presser in the lunch room, and he had some interesting things to say about the leaking of A-Rod's test results. Obviously, there's a lot of disappointment among the players that those results went public. I'll have a story on this on Indians.com shortly.
  • There is one quote I didn't use in that story, though. Lee said he and his teammates received a drug test when they took their physicals over the last few days, but they can be tested again at any time, without notice. "It's not like we can say, 'OK, that's over, let's go do some steroids now,'" Lee joked.
  • Today was the first full-squad workout... sort of. The last group of pitchers had to throw their final bullpen session, so they went to the back fields while the position players were on Fields 1 and 2, taking BP, working at their positions and running the bases. Tomorrow, the full squads will begin in earnest with some live BP, which is always fun to watch.
  • Wedge said the baserunning drills are a focus in camp this year, much in the same way controlling the running game became a focus a couple years ago. The Indians obviously don't have a great deal of team speed, so they hope to compensate for that by being smarter on the basepaths. Wedge wants them to be aggressive down here and find their comfort zone for straying off the bag without getting picked off.
  • Travis Hafner took batting practice in the cage, with Derek Shelton tossing to him and Wedge looking on. Still no word on when Pronk will join his teammates in live BP outdoors, but he's not considered to be too far behind the rest of the hitters.
  • Wedge said LHP David Huff has a legitimate chance of cracking the rotation, though he's obviously not seen much of him yet.
  • Not only did the TVs go out, but a fire alarm went off just as Wedge was about to meet with reporters. Hey, they're still working out the kinks here, all right?
  • The sun came out today. It was welcome.

 

~AC

We're born again, there's new grass on the field

It's remarkably trite to quote John Fogerty's "Centerfield," but, well, that's how it feels the first morning pitchers and catchers work out at Spring Training. The sun came out today, and there really is new grass on the field... because the field itself is new.

 

Lots of excitement in the air here this Valentine's Day morning, as camp got underway in earnest. Cliff Lee, Fausto Carmona, Aaron Laffey, Rafael Perez, Jensen Lewis and Joe Smith were among those throwing bullpen sessions in front of the coaching and front-office staff. There was also some batting practice held on Field No. 6. And let's not forget the always enthralling round of PFPs (pitchers' fielding practice).

 

How'd they look? They looked like they always look the first day of camp. World Series-bound, of course! And don't even try to bunt on these hurlers. They'll make you look silly.

 

I'm not exactly sure if the players felt extra incentive to finish early today, because when they stepped outside this morning they were greeted with a nice whiff of mesquite chicken cooking on a wood-fired grill out back. The inimitable Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer and I wondered if that might be "media chicken." (It wasn't, but the chicken served up in the media workroom was also quite good.)

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • Travis Hafner has taken three days of batting practice this week, including today. Every other day, he's taking soft toss. He said he's had no endurance or strength issues. It's still expected he'll be about a week behind in exhibition action, but that program might be sped up.
     
  • Josh Barfield, who spent all winter here in the Phoenix area and worked out regularly at the Player Development Complex, said he has no problem trying out new positions in camp. He even said playing the outfield is no big deal. “You just run and catch the ball,” he said with a shrug. Sounds easy enough. Barfield said he played some shortstop in the Minors and in high school, so he’s up for that challenge. He thinks — and I agree — that he has a good shot at making this club.

  • Jake Westbrook is throwing off a five-inch mound. He wasn’t sure when, exactly, he’ll progress to the full, 10-inch mound, but he’s still expected to begin throwing in simulated games in April. Westbrook said he’s feeling the expected soreness in his elbow. He said his hip, which, you might remember, was also surgically addressed last year, feels great.
     

  • Tony Sipp had Tommy John surgery in 2007 and joined Double-A Akron in the second half last season, but he suffered shoulder tendinitis in the Fall Instructional League. He’s been rehabbing the injury and, as a result, is about a week behind the other pitchers. But he’s throwing off a mound and used all his pitches for the first time today.
     
  • As far as quotes summing up the move to the Goodyear facility go, you won't find a better, more succinct one than this one from Barfield: "They should have done this a long time ago."
     
  • GM Mark Shapiro has left camp for a few days, due to a death in the family.
     
  • The intensity of the Japanese media never ceases to amaze me. When I walked into the complex this morning, there was a pool of about seven or eight Japanese journalists in the players' parking lot, waiting, presumably, to get a shot of Masa Kobayashi or Tomo Ohka pulling in.
  • The Indians have added names to the backs of their Spring Training jerseys. Clubhouse manager Tony Amato said the names were added for television. More and more spring games are broadcast these days.
     
  • Did you know the Dodgers are charging up to $100 for tickets to their exhibition games? And in a related story, their sales are hurting. Shocker.

  • Be sure to check out CastroTurf on Monday morning, when I’ll provide you with an all-access tour of the new facility. I’ll have photos and everything. It will be awesome*.

     *awesomeness not guaranteed.

 

~AC

Don't wear sandals, try to avoid scandals

Forget about pitchers and catchers reporting. Everybody’s here.

Well, OK, not everybody, exactly. I did see a few unoccupied lockers (I won’t name names here, becuase you never know who’s going to roll through that door next). But the basic gist of the story is that virtually the entire roster is already in-house here at the Cleveland Indians Player Development Complex (rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?).

Not much news to report on Day 1. That’s what happens when you follow a team where the manager doesn’t write a book, the star players don’t become embroiled in steroids scandals and no one has plead guility to lying to Congress.

Pretty boring.

When it comes to that steroids talk, Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt said he feels cheated by players who doped up — A-Rod included. I asked Cliff Lee if he felt that way, and this was his very Cliff-like response:

“I personally don’t see it as bad as it’s made out to be. I like the fact that [Rodriguez] came out and apologized and was open about what he really did. I can respect that. I just have a problem with how they’re going so far in the past and bringing up old things. It’s 2009, and they’re talking about things that happened in ’01 through ’03. MLB has taken care of the steroid issue. We’re being tested. If you’re doing it now, you’re going to get caught. There’s no way around it. I have a problem with how people think it’s still an issue when it’s not anymore. It’s time to move on and just let the past be the past. It’s over with, as far as I’m concerned.”

 

With all due respect, Cliff, it’s not over. Just ask the other 103 guys on that list.

 

Some other bits of minutia from today…

 

  • Fausto Carmona and Rafael Betancourt will not be participating in the World Baseball Classic. Carmona is on the provisional roster for the Dominican and Betancourt is on for Venezuela, but both players have pulled out. Carmona obviously missed a lot of time last year with his hip injury, and the Indians didn’t want him missing more time in camp. Betancourt pitched in the Classic in 2006 and felt like he fell behind in his preseason conditioning.
  • Jhonny Peralta also might not make the Classic cut. He’s on the Dominican roster, but so are Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes and Tejada. Peralta said that even if he does go, he’s not sure how much he’d play, so it might not be worth it.
  • It’s kind of funny to see workers putting all the finishing touches on the complex as players step around them to go work out. I was told that last week, a worker was hanging a piece of artwork and drilled a hole into the wall, puncturing a water pipe. Chaos ensued. Water was everywhere. It’s all part of the initiation process, I suppose.
  • Speaking of the complex, team photographer Dan Mendlik is going to hook me up with some photos of the facility that I’ll post on here as soon as I get them.

~AC 

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