Results tagged ‘ Goodyear ’

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

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

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

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

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

Now, let’s carry on…

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

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

~AC

There's a little town just beneath the floodline that needs a local hero

When I was a kid, Cory Snyder came to The Palace at Euclid High School (it was and is, simply, a high school baseball field, but it was referred to as "The Palace" because it had such posh amenities as a working scoreboard and covered dugouts).

 


snyder1.JPGSnyder put on a little clinic for us Euclid Boys League players. He taught us the finer points that made him, inarguably, the game's greatest player to ever hit 149 homers and notch 992 strikeouts.

 

Then, Snyder put on a Home Run Derby display that drew oohs, ahhs and gasps. And understand: This was my favorite player, in my town, on one of my fields. I was so mesmerized by the sheer magnitude of the moment that I didn't even notice when my dad took off to chase down a foul ball for me. Snyder later signed the ball. It still holds a special place in my heart -- and a box in my basement.

 

I can only imagine the way I felt that spring day in 1988 is similar to the way the kids of Goodyear, Ariz., felt this morning, when the Indians held an open house at the new Goodyear Ballpark. The players did their fundamental drills and took BP on the field, then walked down the first-base line signing autographs for (seemingly) one and all. Grady Sizemore was there. Victor Martinez was there. Jhonny Peralta was there. It was good to see the guys interacting with the locals and the fans who made the trek from Cleveland.

 

Of course, it would have been a lot cooler if Cory Snyder was there.

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • Jeremy Sowers has been named the Indians' Opening Day starter. Opening Day of the Cactus League schedule, that is. He'll get the ball Wednesday at the Goodyear Ballpark opener against the Giants.
  • Today marked the historic debut of the shuttle system that will bring the players to and from the stadium from the complex. There are three shuttles working on a rotation.
  • A little controversy erupted when one of the shuttles took off without Eric Wedge and several players, even though they were in striking distance of the doors. Josh Barfield was absolutely buried by his teammates, because he was apparently the last guy on the bus before it took off. But it was all in good fun.
  • Ed Mujica has looked as good as you can look in two live batting practice sessions. He's out of options, and, if all things are equal with the relief candidates, he'd get the job because of that contract status. But it's early. Let's see how he looks in the games.
  • The more I see of Luis Valbuena, the more I like. He looks quite polished in the field, and he has a smooth swing. One line on Valbuena when the Indians acquired him this winter was that he's a bit on the stocky side, but he looks to be in pretty good shape to me.
  • Fausto Carmona, on the other hand, must be a regular at the Andy Marte Buffet.
  • Speaking of which, there was a Marte sighting at camp here today. He came here to workout, as he is, technically, still with the organization. He got out of here before reporters could shake him down for a few thoughts on the move the other day. 
  • Travis Hafner is still not hitting outside. He's taking BP in the cages every other day and still feels fine. No word on when he'll progress to the next step, but it can't be too far off.
  • The new ballpark is absolutely beautiful. Then again, I guess you wouldn't expect the centerpiece of a $108 million complex to be a dump, right?
  • There are a lot of great jobs in baseball, but wouldn't you just love to be a team's Australia and Europe scouting supervisor? I know I would.
  • For the 90 seconds in which it lived in my notebook, I totally bought David Dellucci's story about saving a little boy from an alligator and having his thumb bit in the process. I guess after 10 days of a rather dull existence here in Goodyear, I was just so excited to finally have a great story to latch on to. At least I wasn't the only one buying it.
  • Some fibs have made it to print over the years. In the early '80s, pitcher Ross Grimsley had reporters believing he had an armadillo farm. In the '90s, Brian Giles had some bite marks on his leg and explained that they were from a yellow-tailed scorpion.
  • My MLB.com colleague Tom Singer had some interesting data on this winter's signings, noting that it was actually, on average, more beneficial to be a young player in arbitration than it was to be a free agent on the open market.

~AC

I want you to show me the way

I don’t even like Peter Frampton. Not sure why I’m quoting him.

Anyway, somebody asked for a little inside information on Goodyear, so here’s a link to the visitor’s guide that went live today.

I need a camera, to my eye

I present to you, courtesy of team photographer Dan Mendlik, an all-access journey through the Indians’ brand-spanking-new Spring Training facility in Goodyear, Ariz. Unfortunately, this journey does not involve pictures of such famous Goodyear landmarks as the new Red Lobster on McDowell Road or the YMCA on Litchfield Road, but that’s life.

(UPDATE: Thanks to reader Casey W. for reformatting the pictures below so that they don’t come out all stretched and distorted on your screen. Hey, I never claimed to be a picture guy. I’m a word guy. Stay with me. This multifaceted blog thing remains a work in progress.)

We begin with this exterior shot of the 10,000-seat Goodyear Ballpark, which the Indians will share with the Reds, beginning next spring. I already mentioned my favorite feature of the ballpark — the huge picture of Brandon Phillips on the exterior of the third-base side — but unfortunately that is not depicted here.

 

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I can, however, provide you with a photo of this piece of … art? This sculpture is an attempt to incorporate baseball and flight, as the facility rests just west of the Phoenix Goodyear Airport.

 

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Moving away from the ballpark and the confounding concept of modern art, we make the half-mile trek to the Cleveland Indians Player Development Complex…

 

Goodyear_complex_2.jpg

After a quick stop in the media workroom, where we swipe a Peanut Butter cookie from PR guru Bart Swain’s office, we head to the low-Minors clubhouse…

 

 
Minor_Clubhouse_Low.jpg 

 

…and then the high-Minors clubhouse…

 

Minor_Clubhouse_High.jpg

Feeling the need to work off that cookie, we head into the 3,900 square foot weight room…

fitness_3.jpg 

…and jump on the treadmill.

 

 

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Now we’re feeling energized. So let’s pop outside for a little Home Run Derby on Practice Field No. 1, which has the exact dimensions of Progressive Field. Think you can hit one over the 19-foot wall in left? 

 

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By now, our feet are getting a little tired. So let’s head into the Major League training room for a quick rub down.

 

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And we’ll end our tour here, in the 2,450 square foot Major League clubhouse. The elliptical shape is supposed to encourage teammates to congregate freely amongst one another, and the four large flat-screen televisions in the center are supposed to encourage the high-def viewing of old episodes of “Family Matters.” OK, I might have made that last part up.

 

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Obviously, there’s a lot more where those shots came from. Actually, the real point of this post is to point you to Mr. Mendlik’s daily photo galleries on Indians.com. Here is the link to yesterday’s gallery. 

It’s a beautiful facility. I hope you enjoyed the quick tour. That’ll be 20 bucks.

~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

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

"I was in there for two minutes… touch this, feel that, 75 bucks"

Let's get physical(s).

 

A few players just headed out to the ballpark to take some early batting practice, and a few guys are playing catch. But the main thing shaking today at the Indians Player Development Complex are the annual physical examinations of pitchers and catchers.

 

It's the usual rundown of eye, ear, nose, throat exams. Turn your head and cough. Touch your toes. Step on this scale. All that good stuff.

 

One guy spared from a good portion of this was Kerry Wood, who, as you might remember, was subjected to an "all-inclusive" physical before his deal with the Tribe became official in December.

 

"I got a hall pass," Wood said with a smile. "I just had my physical not too long ago."

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • In addition to the physicals, players are having their annual sit-downs with manager Eric Wedge and general manager Mark Shapiro. They are told, essentially, where they stand in the organization, their odds of making the team and what's expected of them this year.
  • I don't know if Carl Pavano got a bad rap or if he's had a change of life or what, but the general consenus around here is that he is, for lack of a better term, a Grade A dude. I can back up this consensus based on my first encounter with Pavano, who not only was a fine interview but even offered up a local restaurant recommendation. He said he's not at all bitter about the way the media treated him in New York (where "American Idle" came to be his nickname), and we had a nice conversation about the type of "comes with the territory" uncomfortability that can sprout up between reporter and player. He knows we have a job to do, and he knows he didn't get the job done as a Yankee. And if he's at all upset with the way he was portrayed in Joe Torre's book, he's not showing it.
  • Jhonny Peralta played third base in all but one game in the Dominican this winter. He said he likes that the position doesn't require him to move around much (I'm sure more than a few Tribe fans just nodded their head in agreement), but he did have some trouble with his throws and fielding bunt plays. He said he has "no problem" with the concept of moving to third eventually in his career, but, for now, he views himself as a shortstop.
  • A few people have written in wondering what Kerry Wood's entrance music will be this season. He said he'll probably stick with the Guns N' Roses classic, "Welcome to the Jungle," which he used in Chicago. When I mentioned that some fans would prefer he go with "Wild Thing" (of "Major League" fame, of course), he said, "I'm trying to avoid being wild." The guy did strike out 84 and walk 18 last year, so Guns N' Roses it is.
  • You might remember last spring as the spring Masa Kobayashi made his first foray into American life and became instantly enamored with Wal-Mart. Yesterday I asked his interpreter, Toshi Nagahara, if Masa had made his way to the Goodyear Wal-Mart yet, and Nagahara said, "He was there the first day." Sure enough, I step into the local Supercenter after leaving the complex yesterday, and there's Masa at the express line.
  • I haven't seen every nook and cranny of the complex yet, but so far my favorite part has to be the gigantic photo of Brandon Phillips outside the Goodyear Ballpark.

~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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