Results tagged ‘ Kelly Shoppach ’
It’s Opening Day in Cleveland, so, naturally, I’m typing this during a rain delay.
Yeah, it’s cold today (45 degrees at first pitch). And yeah, the rain blew around all day before it began to pour in the fifth inning. But this is nothing, right?
“Our fans are used to it,” Eric Wedge said. “They’ve sat out here in worse conditions than this.”
We Clevelanders toss out the phrase “at least it’s not snowing” as if that’s any sort of consolation whatsoever.
But hey, at least it’s not snowing.
And the delay gives me the opportunity to throw some mid-game minutia your way.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…
- Jamey Carroll’s left hand is in a splint as he recuperates from that broken fifth metacarpal shaft suffered in his last at-bat of the spring. “The longest Spring Training in history, and I get hurt in the last inning of the last game,” Carroll said. If it weren’t for bad luck, he’d have no luck at all.
- Thus far, it’s been a straight swap of the catching duties for Victor Martinez and Kelly Shoppach. Martinez caught Scott Lewis today, and Shoppach will, of course, catch Cliff Lee on Saturday. No word on who is catching for Anthony Reyes on Sunday.
- During the pregame roster and lineup introductions, the Indians’ training and strength and conditioning staff got to trot out to the third-base line for their turn in the limelight. Considering all the injuries the Indians endured last season, I’d say the honor was well-deserved.
- The Tribe hit five homers Thursday. That feat only happened once last season – July 30 against Detroit, in a 13-inning game.
- Entering today, the Indians were 58-50 all-time in home openers
- Wedge liked what he saw from Travis Hafner in Thursday’s home run. “That was the swing, that was the speed and that was the path [the Indians want to see from Pronk],” Wedge said. But “that” was also an 84 mph fastball from Eddie Guardado.
- I was much more impressed with Hafner getting around on Scott Richmond’s 93-mph fastball for a two-run double off the right-field wall in the first inning and a 92-mph fastball for a solo homer to the
Indians’visitors’ bullpen in the right-field corner in the third. Pronk’s starting to look a little more legit.
- The Indians have not started a season 0-4 wince 1985, when they started 0-5.
- Wedge was really relaxed with the media today. Somehow, he got on the subject of his first exposure to baseball. It came in 1977, when he was 11 years old and first played Little League. The coach asked Wedge (“a short, fat, squatty kid,” as he put it) if he wanted to try catching, and he was all for it. “I thought it would be cool to put all that stuff on,” Wedge said. On his bedroom wall, he hung posters of Carlton Fisk, Johnny Bench and Thurman Munson. No Farrah Fawcett, sadly.
- The Tribe’s clubhouse has new carpet, and it was GM Mark Shapiro’s wife, Lissa, who picked out the color scheme (a deep blue in the clubhouse and a gray in the halls). Mark pretty much designed the alternate uniforms worn for the home opener, holidays and weekend home games. Move over, HGTV.
You know, it’s not every day you can walk to the press box bathroom and pass a former president along the way.
Then again, not every day is Opening Day. It’s a special day, whether or not President George W. Bush is in attendance.
“I think it spurs emotions that a lot of times most people don’t feel,” Eric Wedge said. “I think that’s what people like about Opening Day. I let that in. I think it’s important to feel that. I’ll stiff arm a lot of that stuff, but… if you love the game of baseball and you appreciate and respect the fans who pay their money and the players that work so hard to be the best in the world, I think that’s something we all owe to ourselves.”
It’s a day of hope. A day of opportunity. A day when all is right with the world and the best is yet to come.
Well, until Cliff Lee coughs up seven runs in five innings, and the good people of Cleveland drive home from work in an April 6 snow shower. Then it’s back to square one.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…
- I’m already getting the messages of panic from Tribe fans regarding Cliff Lee and his Opening Day dud against the Rangers. One former Indians.com scribe, who shall remain nameless, is insistent that the Indians should have traded Lee this offseason, while his value was at its peak. This, of course, is how Cleveland sports fans react to such things. It’s their nature, and I suppose it’s understandable.
- On my end, I’m not sure what to make of Lee’s struggles this spring and in this start. His velocity is intact, and his command doesn’t appear to be too terribly out of whack. It’s worth keeping in mind that he’s never really pitched well in this ballpark (3-3, 9.19 ERA in six career starts here). Today’s loss boiled down to a poorly pitched second inning and one particularly bad pitch to Blalock in the fifth. The looming question is whether those rough patches are going to creep up once or twice in each of his outings (they were rare, at best, in ’08). If they do, it’s going to be a long year.
- For the record, Lee said the Blalock one-hopper that dotted his forearm in the second played no part in everything that transpired afterward.
- You can tell when Wedge is upset with the offensive effort and, conversely, when he’s genuinely impressed with what he saw from the opposing pitcher. Today, he was definitely impressed with Millwood. Still, the Indians didn’t notch so much as an extra-base hit against Millwood or the Texas bullpen.
- I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Texas crowd on Opening Day. Every other time I’ve been here, the place is half-empty… if that. But arriving this morning around 9:30 a.m., the parking lots were all packed with tailgaters braving the 45-degree weather (which is downright arctic in these parts).
- The players were all excited to meet the former president. He went around the locker room about an hour before first pitch, signed a ball and took a picture with pretty much every player and coach.
- No one was more excited than Shoppach, an unabashed Bush fan. Bush apparently told Shoppach he remembers him from his Baylor days (Bush’s Crawford, Texas, ranch is near Baylor’s campus in Waco). “That got me pumped up,” Shoppach said. Either Shoppach was a truly memorable college player, or Bush’s secret service guys do their homework ahead of time.
- For the record, I nodded at Bush as I passed him in the hallway and said hello. He was en route to the Rangers’ broadcast booth and didn’t nod back. Didn’t he realize I come from a key swing state?
I made it to Houston — on a flight shared by Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs, no less.
As for the Indians’ bats, they must have slept through their alarm and missed that flight. They were virtually non-existent in tonight’s five-hit effort.
Here’s the rest of the story:
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…
- Don’t look for Fausto Carmona to come out of the bullpen on Opening Day (not that you were looking for that scenario anyway). Carmona’s suspension from last September’s brawl with Gary Sheffield and the Tigers carries into this season. He has one game remaining on the five-game suspension, so he’ll participate in the opening ceremonies, then he must get out of uniform and leave the clubhouse. He is allowed to watch from the stands — if he can get a ticket, that is. The game is sold out, after all.
- Carmona went five innings, giving up a pair of runs on six hits with no walks and five strikeouts. He got eight outs on grounders, two on fly balls. In all, he walked eight batters in 27 innings this spring, and he had a 2.67 ERA. You have to feel better about Carmona going into the season than you did going into camp.
- Wedge and the players all seemed happy to get into a big-league stadium tonight. “Getting out here, you’ve got a couple extra decks and a little different environment,” Wedge said. “You look at this spring and everything, the good and the bad of it, and I think it’s good we’ve got a couple games here before we fire it up for real.”
- Anthony Reyes’ last spring tuneup will come Tuesday in Class A Kinston’s exhibition against Mount Olive College. That’s a private liberal arts school. And you thought Cactus League lineups were inferior.
- Ryan Garko hosted a correspondent’s piece on Jim Rome’s “Rome is Burning” show on ESPN this afternoon. The segment was taped in Goodyear last month. It was pretty bland, except for the part when Jensen Lewis criticized Kerry Wood’s NCAA bracket pool. When Garko pressed Wood for a response, Wood responded, “Jensen Lewis is irrelevant.” The makings of a nickname, perhaps?
- Speaking of Garko, Wedge doesn’t seem to know how much he’ll use him in the outfield this season. “I can’t [say] right now, and I’m really not trying to withhold anything from you guys,” Wedge said. “I’m still trying to get [Trevor] Crowe in my head, and him being a part of this team was unexpected. That changes things a bit. I think [Garko] is going to be out there, but I can’t speak on how much.”
- Kelly Shoppach’s brother, Kyle, is the high school football coach at Westside High School, not far from here. Shoppach stopped over there today to see his brother and talk to some of the kids.
St. Patrick's Day is a really divisive holiday for me. When I'm not working, it is, without question, one of the best days of the year. And when I am working, it is, without question, one of the most obnoxious days of the year.
If you're neither Irish nor inebriated, this holiday does nothing for you. If you're not a fan of corned beef or soda bread, all you've got is a bunch of goofs wearing T-shirts with ridiculous expressions like "Erin Go Braless" or saying annoying things like "Top o' the mornin' to ya!"
Ah, maybe I'm just jealous. Pass the Tullamore Dew. I need to get in the holiday spirit.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...
Wow. Cliff Lee took quite a lump today -- 10 runs (nine earned) on 11 hits with a walk and two strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings. It reads as bad as it looked, and it looked heinous. Lee said he was just trying to locate his fastballs today. And I could definitely locate them. There was one that landed near the warning track in right, there was one off the center-field wall, there was one that cruised past his left ear on a liner up the middle.... well, you get the idea.
That being said, Lee had a point. He was basically throwing nothing but fastballs. Only five or six of his 60-some pitches were offspeed. He was throwing fastballs in counts he'd never throw them in-season, and he said he also took into account the fact that he'll be facing this Rangers team in less than three weeks, when the games count.
By the way, Lee had a 5.68 ERA and a .342 average against last spring -- and that's when he was competing for a job. I know those numbers aren't as bad as the 18.90 ERA he's carrying now, but it's just another demonstration that we shouldn't put too much weight into what happens out here. So don't panic yet.
Well, unless you were counting on Masa Kobayashi to be a go-to setup man. In that case, yes, now would be a good time to panic. But Eric Wedge thought he looked better today.
Travis Hafner will begin to see some action in Minor League games in the coming weeks, for a couple reasons. It gives him extra repetitions, for one. But after Wednesday's off day, nine of the Indians' remaining 10 exhibition road games will be against National League teams. Thus far, the Indians haven't had a single road game in which the DH wasn't utilized, but that's sure to change as we get closer to the regular season.
Let's talk about the batting order. We know, of course, that Grady Sizemore is going to lead off. We know Mark DeRosa is batting second. We know Wedge prefers to have Hafner at No. 3 and Victor Martinez at cleanup. But Wedge said today he puts Hafner, Martinez and Jhonny Peralta (who was excellent at No. 4 last year) in those Nos. 3-5 spots, and he's still not sure of the order or even if it will be static.
Moving down the order, Wedge said Asdrubal Cabrera will remain in the Nos. 8 or 9 spots. He likes the protection that affords the young Cabrera, though he still sees him potentially working his way back up to No. 2 (where he thrived at the end of '07) someday. That leaves Shin-Soo Choo, Ben Francisco and Kelly Shoppach/Ryan Garko somewhere in the Nos. 6-9 mix, with the order depending on the day and opposing pitcher.
How would you organize the lineup? I'd go with Choo at No. 3, Peralta at No. 4, Martinez at No. 5 and Hafner at No. 6 at the outset. It's too early to know what the Indians will get out of Pronk, so I would bump him down and ease the pressure on him.
Peralta started at third today. That's his second appearance there this spring. "We just want to give him some repetitions," Wedge said, "so that if we do need him [at third], he's been there." Cabrera started at short.
Kirk Saarloos came on in emergency relief of Lee in the third inning and held the Rangers scoreless for 1 1/3 innings. It was a nice audition for that long relief role.
A guy dressed in costume as a gigantic Dunkin' Donuts coffee cup came into the PDC this morning with about four or five dozen free donuts for all the players. Well, it's 2009. The coffee cup should have known that the modern athlete is prohibited (at work and under the supervision of a team of athletic trainers, anyway) from eating such garbage.
So, guess who got all the donuts? Yes, media membership has its privileges.
"Some might say he was a cockeyed optimist who got caught up in the dirty game of world diplomacy and international intrigue."
My buddy Brian, a Cleveland native now living in Los Angeles, was in town for today's game against the Brewers. And for what it's worth, he's feeling very optimistic about the Indians' chances this year.
Then again, keep in mind that this guy was voted Most Optimistic by our senior class at Euclid High School. (I was voted Future Celebrity. Obviously, we didn't graduate with Nostradamus.)
Brian campaigned hard for that honor. And when the final results were revealed shortly before graduation, I asked him how it felt be named Most Optimistic.
"Honestly," he said, "I didn't think I had a chance."
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...
The next round of cuts will be made sometime this week.
Kerry Wood worked another scoreless inning in his second spring appearance, though he had the audacity to allow a base hit this time. "I can't complain," Wood said. "I feel I'm back to where I need to be, and I still have plenty of time to get the rest of my innings in. My body feels good. It's just a matter of getting the innings in an fine-tuning my offspeed pitches."
Scott Lewis looked really good, allowing a run on three hits with no walks and two strikeouts in four innings. He followed what appears to be an organizational mandate to hit Prince Fielder with a pitch (that's a joke, of course... though Fielder has been hit by three pitches in two games against the Tribe).
Anthony Reyes only pitched two innings today. Wedge said Reyes could have gone a third (his pitch count is up around 50), but Reyes has been sick with a touch of the flu bug the last couple days, and Wedge didn't want to push him.
Wedge on Lewis: "He's been very good all camp. He's done a good job spotting his fastball and changing speeds. He's picked up where he left off last year." Wedge said Lewis hasn't shown any jitters in competing for that fifth spot.
Kelly Shoppach did not make any friends on the opposing side when he flipped his bat after hitting a solo homer off Seth McClung in the second inning. "He hit a home run in Spring Training," McClung said with a sarcastic bite. "Good for him."
Grady Sizemore tripled off the right-field wall. "I thought it was out," he said. "I guess that's all I've got. No power."
I like the slogan used by the Italian ice vendor here at The Big Chipotle. "Only in America!" he says. "Italian ice!"
I hear the lemonade guy in Scottsdale is also pretty good. His line is: "Lemonade, lemonade... like grandma made!"