Results tagged ‘ Travis Hafner ’

None of this has happened yet

I guess what I'm really wondering in life is when Dippin' Dots will become the ice cream of the present. It's been billed the "ice cream of the future" since I was about 11 years old. That's a pretty bold and pompous claim.


637px-Dippin'_Dots_Rainbow_Flavored_Ice.jpg 

There's a Dippin' Dots stand here at Goodyear Ballpark that had no action when I walked by it during today's game. Meanwhile, further down the first-base line, the homemade ice cream stand had a line that stretched past several sections. We clearly are not living in the future.

 

Actually, given people's general love of nostalgia, if I'm the guy running the ice cream stand, I throw up a sign that says, "Ice cream of the past." That ought to bring them in.

 

Anyway, what's going on with the Indians of the... right now? Allow me to fill you in.

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • Very uneventful debut for Travis Hafner. He saw all of five pitches in two at-bats against Dave Bush, striking out in the first and popping out weakly in the third. He admitted he swung at a bad pitch on that pop-out and said he has work to do in the area of plate discipline. He should be back in the lineup Sunday for another two at-bats.
  • David Dellucci, also making his debut after his left thumb injury held him back, also looked a little impatient in his first two at-bats. But he cranked out a solo homer in his third.
  • Grady Sizemore will be back in the lineup Sunday. He and Hafner will split at-bats at DH.
  • Cliff Lee looked rusty against the Brewers, but, well, it's the first time out. Can't judge much off of that.
  • Jeremy Sowers, on the other hand, has looked a little rough around the edges a couple times now. He gave up three runs (one earned) on two hits wiht two walks in one inning today. "The ball's really coming out of his hand ," Wedge said. "He needs to do a better job finishing his pitches and commanding his fastball." What else is new? 
  • As expected, Shin-Soo Choo did DH in South Korea's opening game of the World Baseball Classic - a 9-0 rout of Chinese Taipei. Choo went 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. The Koreans will play Japan on Saturday.
  • Here the link to an interesting article from The Baseball Analysts points out that the Indians' have been among the Majors' best teams, in terms of payroll efficiency, over the last three seasons.
  • Opening Day is one month from today.
  • I’m putting the brakes on the blog for the weekend. I’ll catch back up with you on Monday.

~AC

A life of leisure and a pirate's treasure don't make much for tragedy

milton4.jpgAh, the first off day of the spring. It is finally here, and I plan to soak it up like a real Arizonian — 18 holes of golf in the morning, laying by the pool in the afternoon (hopefully there won’t be any big grains of salt floating in my margarita), and a little wining and dining at night.

That’s the plan, at least. Sometimes these things have a way of deviating into sitting on the couch watching “Wonder Years” reruns.

Hey, either way, it’s OK.

But before I flick the switch, let’s give you the requisite news and notes from before, during and after today’s game against the Cubs.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Now it sounds like Grady Sizemore (sore left groin) won’t be in Friday’s lineup. Rather, the Indians will test out his legs by having him do some running and shag work. He’ll then be evaluated Saturday. He could be in the lineup then or early next week.
  • Cliff Lee, Travis Hafner and David Dellucci are all a go for Friday. That is, assuming Lee isn’t too dizzy from his F-16 trial.
  • How does Mark Shapiro feel about his Cy Young winner breaking the sound barrier? “As long as he’s not the one flying [the F-16], I’m OK with it,” he said. Lee should be in good hands. 
  • A couple weeks back, I told you Fausto Carmona was looking a little plump in the gut. He appears to have tamed that little issue — the last thing the Indians need is another abdominal/oblique strain for a prominent member of their starting rotation — for the time being. “I lost a couple pounds,” he said today. “I don’t know how many, but I feel better now.”
  • Pitching coach Carl Willis said Carmona will need to be careful in that department: “He has to watch it, because, if it gets away from him, he could get behind the eight ball really quick."
  • As for Carmona's performance, he was a little more erratic this time than the last, but he still turned in two scoreless innings.
  • Carl Pavano had a rough one -- three runs on four hits with a walk and a strikeout in two innings. But he maintains that he feels great.
  • Juan Salas got the save today and has now pitched two scoreless innings in garbage time. "He has a lot of action on the plate and a loose arm," Wedge said.
  • Big, Bad Beau Mills went deep with a two-run shot off Chad Gaudin in the first inning. Wedge was really impressed with the way Mills carried himself last year in camp, and that opinion hasn't changed. "He still needs a lot of work at first base," Wedge said. "But with his aptitude, he'll pick it up quick."
  • Jensen Lewis is off to a much better start this year than last. His velocity appears to be where it needs to be this time of year, and he's rattled off three scoreless innings in three appearances.
  • Still waiting for "No Line on the Horizon" to grow on me, but I agree with the reader who spoke fondly of "Magnificent." Good track. One of the few on there.

~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

I have to get up and climb that hill again

The Indians last played at Phoenix Municipal Stadium in 1992. The concourse and press box have been renovated since then. The mountains in the distance, on the other hand, haven't moved.

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • Not sure what to make of the news that Adam Miller has soreness in his right middle finger. Frankly, you take any negative news regarding Miller's physical condition at its worst and work your way down from there. His history has allowed no other perspective. For now, Eric Wedge insists this is nothing major, but I'll provide another update on his condition Sunday.
  • As reported in that Miller story, Travis Hafner and David Dellucci are both expected to join in on the Cactus action later in the coming week. The non-injured Cliff Lee will also make his first start around that time.
  • Apparently the pitchers are now ahead of the hitters, as there was a grand total of six hits today between the Indians and A's.
  • Carl Pavano looked good today -- as good as you can look the first time out. He threw two perfect innings, getting five groundball outs. When asked the last time he felt this good, he replied, "I don't know if I can think back that far."
  • Scott Lewis also pitched well in two scoreless innings. He hit a batter to open one inning and walked a guy to open the other but worked his way out of trouble each time. "The game doesn't speed up on him," Eric Wedge said of Lewis. "He does a good job staying in his tempo and his routine."
  • Matt Cassel, better known as Jack Cassel's brother, was traded from the Patriots to the Chiefs today.
  • Single-game tickets are now on sale for all the Indians' home games. You can get them right here. If you buy four or more tickets today or tomorrow, you get a free Grady Sizemore fleece blanket (and, for the person who asked, it's a different blanket than the one given out at the games last year).
  • Wedge has been impressed with what he's seen from right-hander Hector Rondon, who worked a scoreless eighth. "He has a live arm and a good fastball," Wedge said. Rondon went 11-6 with a 3.60 ERA in 27 starts at Class A Kinston last year and was added to the 40-man roster at season's end.
  • Happy birthday to Indians PR director Bart Swain.

~AC

"You were making out during 'Schindler's List'?"

The Oscars take place tonight, and the whole world is wondering: When will Winslet win one?*

 

*I don't usually explain references, but I don't think enough people have seen "Extras" to appreciate that joke. There's an episode in which Kate Winslet is doing a movie about the Holocaust only because she believes that every movie about the Holocaust wins an Oscar. So now, tonight, Winslet is nominated for an actual Oscar about an actual movie about the Holocaust, and that's simply awesome.


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Where was I? Ah, yes, the Oscars. I thought I'd assist some of my movie-loving readers with three-word reviews of the nominees for "Best Picture":

 

Frost/Nixon: Haven't seen it.

 

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: Heard it's awful.

 

Milk: Only drink skim.

 

Slumdog Millionaire: Heard it's great.

 

The Reader: Thought-provokingly adequate.

 

All right, so I've only actually seen one of the nominees. That could be part of the reason I wasn't asked to be a member of the Academy. But I can tell you what's going on with the Indians, so let's just go with what we know, all right?

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • The big news of the day was that Travis Hafner took BP outdoors with his teammates this morning. He was on Field No. 1, which is the one designed with Progressive Field's exact dimensions. One of his first swings was a shot off the 19-foot wall. He also hit a couple out to right -- not quite to "Pronkville" but close enough.
  • Hafner said he still feels some soreness in the mornings, but, all in all, the shoulder hasn't given him any major issues. He'll likely begin facing live pitchers the first week of March or so, then progress to the Cactus League games from there.
  • How troublesome was that shoulder last year? Hafner said it would sometimes hurt to eat. And no, that's not how he lost all that weight. Anyway, more on Hafner on the Indians.com site in a little bit.
  • Shin-Soo Choo had to leave the field early in today's workout after he collided with Grady Sizemore during a pop-up drill. Sizemore's knee struck and bruised Choo's right knee. Choo wasn't gone long. He came back about 20 minutes later after getting quick treatment in the trainer's room, and he wasn't walking with a limp.
  • Choo, for the record, will leave here Tuesday for the World Baseball Classic. Team Korea will practice in Korea for three days, then head off to Japan.
  • Looking like Grady Sizemore, Mark DeRosa, Choo and Rafael Perez will be the Indians' only big-league participants in the World Baseball Classic
  • The Indians have signed off on the contracts for nine of their pre-arbitration players - Josh Barfield, Shin-Soo Choo, Aaron Laffey, John Meloan, Adam Miller, Anthony Reyes, Tony Sipp, Jeremy Sowers and Wyatt Toregas. There are 14 remaining pre-arb players on the roster, and it's expected three or four more signings will be made in the next few days.
  • If you're in the area and are interested in attending, the Indians' intrasquad game is at 1 p.m. local time Tuesday.

 ~AC

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

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

 clock.jpg

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

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

 

~AC

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

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

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

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

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

     *awesomeness not guaranteed.

 

~AC

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