Results tagged ‘ Joe Smith ’

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

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

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

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

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

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

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

~AC

Let me in the sound

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

 

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

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

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

~AC

Wood, Smith held back

This is probably the last thing you wanted to hear on the day games started, but closer Kerry Wood is dealing with a lower back issue.

Eric Wedge said Wood last threw a bullpen over the weekend and it will be a few more days before he starts throwing again. The Indians were planning on holding him out of action for a week or so of the Cactus League action anyway, and Wedge tried to make it clear that this is a minor issue.

“It’s normal for him in the spring,” Wedge said. “We don’t need to rush him. We want him ready for April 6, not March 6.”

I guess we’ll just see how this develops in the coming days.

RHP Joe Smith will also be held back for a few days, as he’s dealing with what they call a “non-baseball medical condition.” In other words, he’s sick.

“He’ll miss a few days, then he should be back out,” Wedge said.

UPDATE: Wood will throw a bullpen session on Friday.

UPDATE No. 2: Sounds like it’s going to be at least another four to six days before Smith rejoins the team, and he’ll then have to play catch-up before he’s ready to get into games. Whatever Smith’s got, trust me, you don’t want it. Sounds pretty nasty.

As for Wood, I’m told the plan was originally for him to appear in two Cactus games before March 10, and that still might happen. So this back issue, if it is, indeed, as minor as it appears, isn’t really much of a setback at all. 

"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 

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

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