Results tagged ‘ Josh Barfield ’

I'd drive all night, just to buy you some shoes

Nothing like driving two and a half hours to see a starting lineup featuring Damaso Espino, Wilson Valdez and Jose "Can't Stand Ya" Constanza.

 

Well, at least the game was played in a crisp two hours, 10 minutes.

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • David Dellucci was dealing with a tight left calf muscle before today's game against the Diamondbacks, and he never got loose. He was scratched just minutes before the game started. Doesn't sound all that serious, but he'll be monitored day to day.
  • If the battle for the last bullpen spot came down to today's action, then Vinnie Chulk is your winner. Stretched out to three innings for the first time this spring, he allowed just three hits, lowering his spring ERA to 1.72. Eric Wedge called Chulk "one of our most consistent guys" in camp.
  • But Wedge tried to make it sound as though the battle, which is clearly down to Jackson and Chulk, is still undecided. He was sure to point out that Jackson can give the Indians more length (even though Wedge has tried to make it clear he doesn't view this job as the "long man" role) and is left-handed, which is considered a plus because of the three right-handed starters.
  • Jackson, though, turned in a real clunker today -- five runs allowed on six hits over four innings. He locked in after his first two innings of work, but, you know, that's not exactly what you want to see from a reliever. His ERA is up to 6.87.
  • The Indians have the ability to option Jackson to Triple-A. They can also send Chulk there, but they'd have to decide if they want Chulk in the big leagues by May 15. He has an out clause at that time.
  • Josh Barfield over Trevor Crowe for that last bench spot. This might be one of those competitions you're better off losing. It's hard to envision Barfield getting a heck of a lot of playing time up here. Crowe, on the other hand, will be an everyday guy at Triple-A Columbus.
  • This is just my opinion, but if the Indians really felt Barfield is their second baseman of the future -- and they will probably need a second baseman in the not-too-distant future, if they shift Jhonny Peralta to third and Asdrubal Cabrera to second -- they'd have him playing every day in Columbus, and they wouldn't have acquired Luis Valbuena.
  • Shin-Soo Choo was pounding the ball in BP before he left for the World Baseball Classic. He's looked a little rusty since his return. He went 1-for-4 today, striking out three times.
  • I'm told that during a batting practice session back at the complex Friday, while most of us were in Scottsdale, Travis Hafner and Kerry Wood took to the field to man shortstop and second base. How's that for a double-play combo?

~AC

Crowe, Gimenez optioned; Barfield wins job

As expected, the Indians optioned OF Trevor Crowe and C Chris Gimenez to Triple-A Columbus today, leaving INFs Josh Barfield and Tony Graffanino as the lone remaining participants in the battle for the last position player spot.

We haven’t spoken to Eric Wedge about these moves, but I’d imagine Graffanino — along with Andy Marte and Wilson Valdez — is being kept around in these waning days of camp in case of an injury. Barfield has been the favorite for the job all along, and he might have already been told he’s won it. He’s in the starting lineup at second base today.

Crowe and Gimenez both had impressive camps. Crowe hit .289 (13-for-45) with a homer, a triple, a double and three RBIs. He went 6-for-6 in stolen-base attempts. He’ll be in the Columbus starting outfield alongside Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley. If the Indians decide to part ways with David Dellucci early this season, Crowe could get the call because of the athleticism he would bring off the bench.

Gimenez not only showed he is capable of being a big-league catcher; he also proved his worth in the outfield corners and first base. Along the way, he hit .357 (10-for-28) with two homers, three doubles and seven RBIs. He had a .679 slugging percentage and .486 on-base percentage.

UPDATE: Yep, Barfield’s on the club. Graffanino is expected to hang around another week and accept an assignment to Columbus.

"I'm good enough, I'm smart enough and, doggone it, people like me"

Spring Training is six weeks old (and counting), and the upcoming regular season is six months long.


cheers.jpg 

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.

~AC

Stand Up and Cheer

It takes a lot for a guy in Arizona in March to become jealous of a guy in Cleveland in March, but that's just what happened when my buddy Brad called me this morning from the Mid-American Conference tournament at the Q, where our beloved Ohio University Bobcats were taking on Western Michigan.

 

The MAC tourney was the sight of perhaps my greatest heartbreak. In 2001, an Ohio team loaded with such collegiate legends as Brandon Hunter and Steve Esterkamp was humbled in the MAC semifinals, when the unabashedly evil Miami of Ohio guard Jason Grunkemeyer -- the same guy who transferred from OU to J.Crew U. after his freshman year -- hit a game-winning three-pointer with 6.8 seconds left.

 

I'm still bitter.

 

The Bobcats won the MAC in 2005, but I was down in Florida for Spring Training. And today I was stuck in Arizona as OU began its glorious, improbable run to MAC glory with a 62-55 beating of the Broncos.

 

This is not a very good OU team, mind you. The Bobcats are a No. 9 seed in a tournament that probably shouldn't even have nine teams. They will go up against a heavily favored Bowling Green team in Thursday's second round and, contrary to my own grandiose predictions and expectations, will most likely get thumped.

 

But they attend OU. They live in the navel of the universe -- Athens, Ohio. They have the ability to drown any and all sorrows in the hallowed pubs of Court Street. So they are winners, through and through.

 

Here in Arizona, the Indians were taking on the Angels, so here's your daily rundown of all things Tribe.

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • Shin-Soo Choo, in between rounds of the World Baseball Classic, reported to the Player Development Complex this afternoon to get his left arm looked at by the Indians' trainers. The soreness he was experiencing in his triceps, just above his surgically repaired elbow, still isn't considered serious, but the Indians are taking advantage of the South Korean team training in Arizona to get their hands on him and determine if he should still be limited solely to DH duties. An update on Choo's condition is expected Wednesday, according to media relations director Bart Swain. Korea begins Round 2 of the Classic at San Diego's Petco Park on Sunday.
  • Kerry Wood had a breeze of a spring debut, striking out Howie Kendrick, getting Juan Rivera to fly out to right field (and a nice basket catch at the track by Ryan Garko on that one) and getting Brandon Wood to pop out -- all on nine pitches.
  • Speaking of Garko in right field, that's something we were told we wouldn't be seeing this spring. But Eric Wedge decided that because some parks have less space in right than in left, it makes sense to try Garko there, too. And the fact that Garko was in right today is inherent praise of what he's shown the Indians in left.
  • Starting at third base, Josh Barfield made a nice diving stop of a bouncer down the line to preserve a run. He made an error later in the game, when he dropped a ball after ranging to his left on a tough play.
  • Another note on Wood: In talking about the pitchers he grew up watching, he said he was in attendance for Nolan Ryan's seventh no-hitter against the Blue Jays on May 1, 1991. Wood got the tickets through a grocery store giveaway. After the game, he went around the concourse at Arlington Stadium, picking up ticket stubs. He said he still has about 30 of them.
  • A pair of singles for Travis Hafner in three at-bats, including a liner to right-center field that scored Trevor Crowe from second.
  • I thought this was a big day for Scott Lewis to potentially establish himself in the rather ho-hum starting rotation battle. He went out in the fifth inning and gave up four runs on three hits with two walks and two strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings, largely against the Angels reserves, so that's obviously a concern. But both Wedge and pitching coach Carl Willis nonetheless thought it was a good outing for Lewis. They felt he commanded his fastball well, for the most part. Lewis will get his first start of the spring when his next turn comes in five days.
  • The Indians have come to contractual agreements with all their pre-arbitration players, in advance of MLB's Wednesday deadline. Today the club announced the signings of Asdrubal Cabrera, Trevor Crowe, Ben Francisco, Ryan Garko, Chris Gimenez, Zach Jackson, Jensen Lewis, Scott Lewis, Andy Marte, Ed Mujica, Rafael Perez, Hector Rondon, Juan Salas, Carlos Santana, Joe Smith and Luis Valbuena.
  • Finally, I've got to throw out a quick plug for Maple Street Press' Indians Annual 2009. It's a 128-page, "by fans, for fans" compilation that includes player profiles rife with interesting statistical data (if you wondered what Garko hit against right-handed sliders last season, here's your opportunity to find out), an insightful, in-depth interview with assistant GM Chris Antonetti, several informative features (including the always excellent Joe Posnanski's touching remembrance of Herb Score) and much, much more. Edited by Jay Levin of the LetsGoTribe.com blog, it really is a professional, impressive piece of work. Look for it on newsstands in Northeast Ohio or buy it here.

~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

Familiar faces around me

Aside from today's shift in scenery from the complex to the ballpark, the highlight of the day was undoubtedly the arrival of Rapid Robert Feller. It's an annual rite of spring.

 

As was the case in Winter Haven, Feller will be throwing out a ceremonial first pitch and signing autographs at each and every home game at the Goodyear Ballpark.

 

You might be surprised to hear Mr. Feller has an opinion on some things. Shocker, right? He came into the media workroom and said, "Are you guys going to write about steroids this season, or baseball?" Hopefully baseball, we responded. "I'm sure Bud and A-Rod hope that, too," he replied.

 

When told Jeremy Sowers is starting tomorrow's Cactus League opener, Feller said, "If he got some upper body strength, he could do it. He reminds me a lot of Scotty Bailes."

 

Feller also told us scribes, "The last thing I want to hear is that we have great players in the Minor Leagues. I don't care. How about some great ones, right now, winning a ballgame?"

 

I guess he's not all that interested in my Nick Weglarz feature.

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • If you're in the Cleveland area, SportsTime Ohio will be broadcasting tomorrow's opener against the Giants, which begins at 3 p.m. ET. If you're not, fear not. MLB Network will be picking up and airing the STO live feed.
  • Feller was far from the only special guest at the complex today. This place has become a tourist trap. This morning, former closer Joe Borowski rolled in to take a tour and catch up with some old friends. Not only was Borowski, who lives in nearby Scottsdale, wearing the standard-issue Affliction T-shirt, he was also carrying his trademark cup of Starbucks. "I can drink as much as I want now," he joked. If you remember, Borowski's major complaint about Winter Haven was the lack of Starbucks availability.
  • Cubs GM Jim Hendry and Padres GM Kevin Towers also toured the complex this morning. And on Monday, Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd (a former Indians assistant GM) rolled through. The Rockies have to be considering a move from Tucson. Only two teams (the Rockies and Diamondbacks) remain there, so their travel schedule is brutal.
  • Not a great deal to report off the five-inning intrasquad, because, well, it's a five-inning intrasquad. But Josh Barfield started a double play on the only ball hit to him at third, and he also cranked out a three-run homer. So a nice day for him.
  • Bad day for Masa Kobayashi, who had a rough third inning in which he faced eight batters and gave up three runs on four hits with a walk and a strikeout. Trevor Crowe took him deep for a solo shot, and Beau Mills added an RBI triple to the left-field corner. Eric Wedge said Kobayashi was flying open on his delivery. After Carl Willis talked with him on the mound, he tightened it up and got better action on his breaking ball -- and got out of the inning, to boot.
  • Carlos Santana put on a display in batting practice during the morning workout, and he showed off his strong arm behind the plate in the intrasquad. Santana is catching (no pun intended) attention down here.
  • The real star of the intrasquad was the ballpark itself. The plaza beyond foul territory near right field contains a Wiffle Ball field for the kids. The 8-year-old inside me is just dying to try it out.
  • The park has an incredible sound system. Some of the players are already talking about starting a petition to have the system installed at Progressive Field (they hate the sound there).
  • Then again, the people operating the system here could stand to make some tweaks. You've no doubt heard a small sampling of Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" played after strikeouts in many a ballpark, and Goodyear Ballpark is no exception. It's a tired act. And the lone time it was broken up, the replacement, bizarrely, was a short dose of Blessid Union of Souls' "I Believe" when Wes Hodges went down swinging in the fourth. I'm struggling to make the connection there.

 ~AC

Hey mister deejay, won't ya hear my last prayer

I really don't see how it's even remotely possible that anyone could or would need to listen to a radio station other than E Street Radio -- the all-Bruce Springsteen station on Sirius and XM.

 

Actually, I'm on my second rental car of the spring already, because the Sirius subscription in the first one ran out a day into my rental period. That wasn't going to cut it. I need access to the only station where it's standard practice to hear, on average, five versions of "Thunder Road" (the studio version, the live version from the Agora Ballroom in '78, the solo piano version from the live boxed set, the original version named "Wings for Wheels" from early '75 and the studio alternate version in which the woman he's singing to is named Chrissie, not Mary) a day.

 

To me, that's perfect radio. But for the rest of you, perfect radio involves the Indians broadcasts.

 

Unfortunately, not every game down here in the Cactus League will be carried by WTAM, WMMS and the Indians Radio Network. Tom Hamilton, who arrived to camp today, will be in the booth for Wednesday's opener and 20 other spring exhibitions.

 

The rest of the time, you can turn to the soothing sounds of Jim Rosenhaus right over in these parts at Indians.com. Those of you with a subscription to MLB.com's Gameday Audio feature can tune in at the site for every game, including the ones not carried on the radio. For the complete spring broadcast schedule, click here.

  

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • It will be David Huff opposing Hector Rondon in the first inning of tomorrow's 1 p.m. intrasquad game. The game will last five innings in all. Rafael Betancourt, Kirk Saarloos, Adam Miller, Greg Aquino, Jensen Lewis, Masa Kobayashi, John Meloan and Ryan Edell will all get an inning of work.
  • Also of note for the intrasquad is that Ryan Garko and Jamey Carroll will both play in the outfield, while Josh Barfield will be at third base. Eric Wedge said he’s seen enough of Garko to determine it’s worth a shot, particularly in such a meaningless game.
  • At the end of this morning’s workout, the position players took part in an interesting situational hitting drill. They were divided into two teams. When a player would step into the cage, the players from the opposing team would call out a situation — for example, bases loaded with the infield in and one out — and the hitter would have to respond with the appropriate at-bat. Get it right, get a point. Get it wrong, lose a point. The team with the fewest points at the end had to pick up all the balls sprayed around the field. Some funny moments came out of this, and you can read about them on Indians.com in a little bit. But the highlight was when Shin-Soo Choo’s situation was basically “don’t hit a homer.” He hit a towering shot off the center-field wall, about a foot and a half short of going out. Big League Choo, ladies and gentlemen.
  • Nick Weglarz is a beast at 6-foot-3, 245 pounds. He was one of the early arrivals to Minor League camp this year, because he's due to leave to represent Canada in the World Baseball Classic this week. He took batting practice with the members of big-league camp this morning. I'll write up Weglarz in the coming days, but the main things you need to know about him is that he's got the body of a Travis Hafner with enough athleticism, the Indians believe, to remain in left field. He's not your typical power hitter. At Class A Kinston last year, he had a .396 on-base percentage, drawing 71 walks and striking out 78 times.
  • Another Andy Marte sighting today. He was working out at the complex and changing in the Minor League locker room. The Indians weren't able to work out a trade involving Marte, and he was officially exposed to waivers this morning. Teams have until Wednesday to claim him. I'll have Marte's take on his situation in a story on Indians.com this afternoon.
  • Jhonny Peralta will see some time at third this spring, but it won’t be a “steady diet,” Wedge said. It will be just enough to ensure Peralta is ready to jump over there from time to time during the season, if the need arises.
  • Former big-league player and hitting coach Mickey Brantley will be here tomorrow to see his son, Michael, in action.

 ~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

Come together right now over me

I'd like to think I had a pretty diverse lunch table in high school.

 

You know how it is in the movies. The jocks sit with jocks. The nerds sit with nerds. The cheerleaders all sit together and, presumably, talk about how attractive the members of the school paper's reporting staff are. Pretty basic stuff.

 

That's not how it was at my table. We had a pretty eclectic mix. We had a lineman from the football team, a member of the show choir, a couple weird guys, a couple smart guys, a couple funny guys. We were bonded, I believe, by the air hockey table in the break room. We'd take on various freshmen in the room and usually beat them (except for this one extremely talented kid whose real name we never came to learn. We simply referred to him as "God").

 

And the air hockey precedent holds true. Sports (yes, I'm using that term quite loosely) can bring a diverse group of individuals together.

 

I mention this because someone asked about clubhouse cliques, and I am trying to come up with the best way to describe the Indians' clubhouse. There are certainly cliques involved. Latin guys will always tend to congregate with other Latin guys, for instance. Young Minor Leaguers congregate with other young Minor Leaguers. And without naming names, every once in a while a guy like Jason Johnson comes along and doesn't really make friends with anybody (I guess I did name names). But those are the exceptions that prove the rule.

 

My point is that it always strikes me how well guys brought into this organization mesh with other guys. You wouldn't know, for example, that Mark DeRosa, Kerry Wood, Joe Smith and Carl Pavano just got here. They have fit in very well.

 

Players who come over here - and Joe Borowski used to say this all the time -- tend to remark that this is a rather unique environment in which players check their egos at the door. Those who don't get called out or, worse, ostracized entirely.

 

So it's a lot like my lunch table, minus the air hockey (which is a shame, for the record) and plus the Affliction t-shirts (which is even more of a shame).

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • Victor Martinez won't talk much about how much pain he was in when playing through that elbow soreness last season, but he will talk about how painful it was to be away from the game for two and a half months. He had some real nice things to say about his love for the game. "You look around, and we're blessed to be here, wearing a big-league uniform with nice shoes, nice batting gloves, looking good," he said. "What else can you ask for? You just need to go out and enjoy it."

 

  • The Indians will move part of their workout to the Goodyear Ballpark tomorrow, as part of a Fan Fest in which the locals can get a look at the new park. The gates open at 10 a.m. local time, and the Tribe will hold fundamental drills beginning at 10:30 a.m. The live batting practice sessions, however, will remain on the back fields.

 

  • Josh Barfield looked pretty good moving around at third base today. Wedge, for one, was impressed. "Better than what I'd expect to see for the first time over there," Wedge said.

 

  • Luis Valbuena has made a fine first impression here, at the plate and in the field. He's been taking some grounders at shortstop, but Wedge said he'll only look at him at second base when the games start.

 

  • Wedge said the bullpen battle goes a lot further than just that one open spot on the Opening Day roster. "It's also who's going to be the first guy we call or the second guy, depending on what happens," Wedge said. "They're pitching to make an impression with regard to this year."

 

  • Speaking of the bullpen mix, Juan Salas gets here Saturday night and should be in camp on Sunday for his physical.

 

  • Reader Jim D. points out that the Indians have had four players whose last name is a palindrome -- Toby Harrah, Dave Otto, Mark Salas and, now, the new Salas. Jim claims that is a Major League record, though I don't have that confirmed. Granted, none of these names are as complex as my all-time favorite palindrome, "so many dynamos," but it's still pretty cool. I've done a quick look through the all-time roster to see if there are any others we're missing, but I don't see any. Let me know if you discover otherwise.

 

  • Speaking of last names, I've decided the only reason I didn't become a pro ballplayer is because of my 11-letter last name. It's at least one -- and probably two -- letters too long to look presentable on the back of a jersey. Rafael Betancourt, for example, is at the 10-letter mark, and his name is in danger of becoming a half-circle on the back of his jersey. Just doesn't look right. 

~AC

"I happen to dress based on mood… This is Morning Mist."

These must already be the dog days of camp if yesterday's discussion centered around dog names.

 

(I particularly liked the idea of getting nine fish and naming them all after the members of the starting lineup. However, that might be difficult to pull off with the Tribe. You might need a few versatile, utility fish to fill in when the other fish are in a slump or need a break from ... I don't know ... swimming laps, I guess.)

 

Today's topic: Clothing.

 

Now, I don't claim to have an admirable wardrobe. Far from it, in fact. Sportswriters technically aren't allowed to wear anything but sweatpants and polo shirts featuring the logo of some event from 1996. Also, I hate to sound like a cranky old man. But seriously... what's with these Affliction shirts?

 

You know what shirts I'm talking about, right? They usually have some sort of skull on them. Or maybe it's not a skull. I guess I haven't really taken the time to examine them closely. (Edit: After I started writing this entry, I went into the clubhouse and did examine one of them closely. It featured a sword going through an empty rib cage, surrounded by flowers. Reminds me of prom night.) But I do know that they're always form-fitting (I would love, just once, to see a guy wearing an Affliction shirt three sizes too big for him), and they are a hit among ballplayers. I'm starting to think they serve as a secondary uniform for this particular team.

 

I don't get it. I don't want to get it. And if you can't tell by this post, I'm really ready for the games to start down here, because I have nothing better to do than write up the unceremonious end of Andy Marte's reign and rant about T-shirts.

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • GM Mark Shapiro is back in camp after leaving for Baltimore due to the death of his grandmother. With Shapiro back, he and Eric Wedge began holding their two-on-one meetings with position players.
  • Another rather uneventful morning on the back fields. The players did some work at their individual positions, and the second round of live BP was held.
  • It can be somewhat telling to see who's getting work at which position and what group they are in. For example, Luis Valbuena, Josh Barfield and Beau Mills all got work this morning in what could be considered the Major League infield group (Mark DeRosa at third, Jhonny Peralta at short, Asdrubal Cabrera at second and Ryan Garko at first). Barfield was at second base and Valbuena was taking grounders at short. Jamey Carroll worked with DeRosa at third base.
  • The plan this season is for Carroll to serve as, essentially, the backup third baseman. With DeRosa expected to see some time in the outfield, Carroll can step in at the hot corner. Barfield will probably make this team and serve as Cabrera's backup at second base. So much of Carroll's time on the field, to this point, has been spent at third.
  • Wedge's first impression of third baseman Wes Hodges: "For a young player, he does a nice job staying in the middle of the diamond [in BP]."
  • Someone asked whatever happened with Edward Salcedo, the prospect to end all prospects who the Indians reportedly made a run at last year in the Dominican and were even rumored to have signed for $2.9 million (obviously, that wasn't the case). Last I heard, there was an investigation into Salcedo's age and doubts that he was really 16. The talk about Salcedo coming out of the Dominican quieted in a hurry when that investigation began. 

~AC

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 62 other followers