Results tagged ‘ Zach Jackson ’

Jackson given bullpen job

Zach Jackson will break camp with the Indians as the seventh reliever in the bullpen. It’s pretty much a long man role, and the Tribe views the left-handed Jackson as a nice complement to their three right-handed starters.

Vinnie Chulk, who had better numbers than Jackson in Cactus League play, will be reassigned to the Minors. His contract stipulates that he must accept an assignment to Triple-A Columbus, but he has an out clause on May 15. If the Indians don’t call him up by then, he can become a free agent.

More info on Indians.com in a little bit.

UPDATE: Basically, the Indians don’t feel all that comfortable with their starting rotation going into the season, so they value the length Jackson can give them. He can handle up to 90 pitches at the moment. Chulk only recently got stretched out to three innings of work.

Got on my dead man's suit and my smilin' skull ring


322938259.jpgI thought the Indians' clubhouse featured a lot of guys in Affliction T-shirts.

 

Then I went to dinner last night at a restaurant next to an arena hosting a Disturbed concert. The attendees were lined up outside, ready to rock out and bang their heads to such easy listening tunes as "Down with the Sickness," "Violence Fetish," "Sons of Plunder," and "Ten Thousand Fists."

 

There are graveyards with fewer skulls and crossbones than what I witnessed last night.

 

The Affliction epidemic continues, as does the Spring Training that won't die.

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • Just hours after Trevor Crowe was optioned down to Columbus, David Dellucci's calf muscle tightened up on him. If it doesn't respond to treatment immediately, Dellucci's spot is very much in jeopardy. If he has to start the year on the DL, I'd expect Crowe to get called up, unless the Indians decide to keep Tony Graffanino around for a little while. Not much word on Dellucci's condition, other than it was the same today as yesterday and he was getting treatment back at the complex. So stay tuned.
  • Expect an announcement about the last bullpen spot either Monday or Tuesday. It's coming down to Zach Jackson and Vinnie Chulk, and Eric Wedge made it clear that Saturday's game, in which Jackson struggled and Chulk shined, will not serve as a deciding factor. "We look at everything," Wedge said. "I don't think [Saturday] was necessarily good or bad for either one of those guys. We're working through some other things outside of that... what we saw last year, where we're at now, how we see us breaking, how we look at the entire year. So we're going to still stay with that criteria."
  • Given all those qualifiers, it appears to me that the Indians are still leaning toward Jackson. He'd be a left-handed complement to their three right-handed starters, and he can provide length. But that's my own speculation. I guess we'll know the answer any day now.
  • Mark DeRosa made quite an impression on the Cubs and their fans in just two years in Chicago. He was getting lots of love pregame today at HoHoKam Park. And then he stepped up and jacked the first pitch he saw from Ted Lilly over the left-field wall.
  • DeRosa wasn't done. In his second at-bat, DeRosa took Lilly deep to left again -- this time nailing the top of the scoreboard. In his third at-bat, DeRosa hit a shot off the center-field batter's eye that, strangely, is in play. That was very nearly homer No. 3. Looks like DeRo is locked in.
  • Wedge says Masa Kobayashi is on the club, but he took another step back today (two runs on three hits, including a Reed Johnson homer, in one inning). He'll be on a short leash this season.
  • You might want to check out the Bill James Goldmine 2009, which is filled with little nuggets of info, as well as essays and statistical profiles. James unearthed several interesting facts about the '08 Indians. I'll share a few of them here. 
  • According to James' research, the Indians were leading their opponents 83 times in the fifth inning last year, and that was the best fifth-inning record in the AL and the third-best in the Majors. The fact that the club went 81-81 just shows you how lousy that bullpen was, because no other team in baseball finished the season with less total wins than fifth-inning leads.
  • James found that Grady Sizemore's batting average on pulled grounders was .172 last year, compared with .202 in 2007. Defenses have begun to shift on Sizemore, and it's worked pretty well.
  • Asdrubal Cabrera reached base leading off an inning 27 times in '08, and the Indians scored 43 runs in those innings. James says that's the highest production rate in the Majors in that situation.
  • There's plenty more where that came from, but I'll leave it to you to seek out James' book.

~AC

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

"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

She was shakin', snappin' her fingers

The sweet sounds of Eddie Money’s “Shakin'” are blaring in an empty Goodyear Ballpark as I type this.

Yep, that’s when you know it’s definitely time to punch out for the day.

But before I go…

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • It was already pretty obvious the Indians look at Laffey as their fifth starter-to-be. He is, after all, the only guy competing for the job who has actually gotten the starting nod in each of his appearances. Today he proved he’ll probably win the job, tossing four perfect innings against the A’s and getting eight groundball outs. Really impressive outing, and Laffey’s confidence is demonstrated in this quote: “I’m taking the mindset that it’s already my spot.” That’s the kind of stuff we heard from Cliff Lee last year.
  • Rafael Perez is back after a dominant run (for him, not his team) in the first round of the World Baseball Classic. Perez pitched one inning in each of the Dominican’s three games and was perfect each time, striking out three batters along the way. Eric Wedge said he’ll ease off Perez the next couple days before bringing him back into the exhibition fold. The Indians have no concerns over how he was used in the Classic because each of his outings was so effortless.
  • Zach Jackson also looked pretty good, for the most part, today. He got into some trouble in the eighth when a fastball got away from him and hit Jack Hannahan in the head. Jackson might profile well for that final bullpen spot, because he could give the Indians length and he’s left-handed (complementing the three right-handed starters).
  • Adam Miller began playing catch Wednesday and threw out to 75 feet today. He’ll throw out to 90 feet Sunday. No word on when he’ll go off a mound, but his return-to-throw was expected to last two weeks total.
  • Jake Westbrook threw 15 pitches off the 10-inch mound this morning. He continues to progress nicely in his return from Tommy John.
  • Nice play for the Tribe in the ninth inning today. Cliff Pennington was on third after tripling off Vinnie Chulk with one out. Joe Dillon hit a grounder to short against a drawn-in infield, and non-roster invitee Wilson Valdez scooped it up and made a nice throw home to catcher Chris Gimenez, who applied the tag for the second out.
  • Finally, a big congrats to Frank Viola’s daughter, Brittany, who has been selected to USA Diving’s 2009 World Championships team. She’ll be competing in Rome in July in the 1-meter and 10-meter diving events.

~AC

"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

"No one gives us the finger! We're Yankees!"

You already know the Indians beat the Rockies today. But in the spirit of the late, great Paul Harvey, allow me to tell you "the rest of the story."

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • Adam Miller will continue to get treatment on his right middle finger for the next couple days before the Indians decide whether or not he's ready to start throwing again. He and the Indians both maintain this is not a serious problem and they're just being cautious.
  • I don't think a middle finger has caused this much trouble since George Costanza rode in a car with Danny Tartabull.
  • Kerry Wood appears to have bounced back nicely from his back soreness. He threw a second 40-pitch bullpen today and will throw live BP on Wednesday. They're targeting early next week for Wood's Cactus debut.
  • Anthony Reyes makes his spring debut Tuesday against the Royals in Surprise. He's had no elbow issues in camp thus far.
  • Cliff Lee will throw a simulated session Tuesday and will probably make his Cactus debut on Friday against the Brewers.
  • Pitching coach Carl Willis said before today's game that we'll see all five candidates for the last rotation spot at least two more times (and keep in mind Zach Jackson and Jeremy Sowers both threw in the game that followed). As the Indians increase the innings doled out to their starters, the competition will get pared down.
  • Stephen Head crashed hard into the wall while trying to catch a foul ball in the first inning of today's game, dropping him to the ground. He was looked over by head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff for a few minutes and remained in the game. He cranked out a two-run single in the bottom of the inning.
  • Gotta love Big Sal going deep in the sixth. Well, unless you're Rich Rundles, who served up the two-run jack to The Mustachioed One.
  • A new Inbox is up and running on the site.

~AC

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