Manny being Manny
It’s been an interesting few days for Indians manager Manny Acta. Fresh off a mini-vacation with his family to a remote beach area in his native Dominican Republic, Acta was in Cleveland, hands gripped tightly to an inflatable tube as he flew down the Batterhorn at Snow Days at Progressive Field.
That was just Saturday.
On Sunday, Acta attended his first NFL game, watching the Browns edge out the Panthers, 24-23. Acta was sporting an Indians winter hat at the game, but he said he was proudly wearing and waving a bright orange foam finger as he cheered on Cleveland’s team.
“It was a good experience,” Acta said with a smile. “And we won. Regardless of how, and who we beat, we won.”
Acta is soaking up all things Cleveland — evidenced by his usage of the word “we” when talking about the Browns.
He raved about watching Browns running back Peyton Hillis plow through defenders, even referencing the hard-nosed back when asked if Grady Sizemore might need to adjust his all-out style in light of his recent knee injury.
“That’s just the way he’s wired,” Acta said. “That’s like asking Hillis to stop running people over.”
Acta took the time to gather with reporters on Monday afternoon for a casual lunch, followed by a question-and-answer session. Monday evening Acta was scheduled to hold a chat with Indians’ season-ticket holders as well. Here are a few highlights of Acta’s discussion with us local scribes today
- On more than one occastion, Acta noted that the non-tender date is coming up. Considering Cleveland is limited in what it can do financially, looking to this second wave of free agents — typically less-expensive options — might be a way for the club to solve the holes at third base and in the rotation. Thursday is baseball’s non-tender deadline.
- Asked about third base, Acta said, “We’ll see what’s out there. if not, we’re prepared to go with our in-house candidates.” He took a slightly different route when answering about the club’s search for rotation help. “We should be able to add a guy or two and have him compete. There are some guys that are going to go to Spring Training to compete for us who probably still need some more seasoning in the Minor Leagues.”
- One internal option for third base is Jayson Nix, who is working on his defense at the position at winter ball in Puerto Rico. That said, Acta noted that Nix’s performance in P.R. will not dictate whether the Tribe seeks an addition at the hot corner. “If that would be the case, then I would be tomorrow sitting in Puerto Rico watching him play,” Acta said with a chuckle. “You have to give it to him. Not too many guys will take the challenge and go to winter ball and get better. He’s just trying to make himself more versatile.”
- There was no real update on Sizemore, but Acta said he did see the center fielder when the manager was in Arizona to see some Fall League action. Understandably, Acta said the club will take a very conservative approach with Sizemore in the spring, but the manager added that, “Until I hear anything different, he’s our center fielder. But, we have to get to Spring Training and see how he is and how things develop.”
- Acta maintained his sense of humor when asked about the Tribe’s poor luck with injuries: “My seventh, eighth or ninth hitter never went down,” he quipped. The manager is excited about the possibility of having both Sizemore and catcher Carlos Santana back at full strength and knows that a pile of injuries present a big problem for teams like the Indians. “It’s something that is tough to absorb when you’re a team rebuilding and you don’t have the depth or the flexibility to just go grab somebody else.”
- Acta noted that there are definitely some spots in the Indians’ bullpen that are “up for grabs.” Said the manager: “We have Chris Perez and we have the two lefties [Tony Sipp and Rafael Perez]. Then we have [Joe] Smith and the rest of the guys. Nothing is set in stone when it comes to that, so guys like [Josh] Judy, he could come into Spring Training and who knows? He could win a spot. We’re not dead set on the rest of those guys.”
- When it comes to leadership within the clubhouse, Acta said he expected guys like Chris Perez, Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo to play a larger role come 2011. Acta has no problem with younger guys stepping up, either: “I just don’t know who told people you have to be a 10-year veteran to be a leader.” Then again… “I’ll take pitching and defense over leadership,” Acta quipped.
- Acta was asked for his thoughts about Indians CEO Paul Dolan’s recent comments about this not being the right time to spend on free agents. Replied Acta: “It doesn’t upset me, because … he also said that when he feels it’s the right time, he will spend.” After referencing the Kerry Wood and Mark DeRosa signings of nto so long ago, Acta added: “My job is actually to make these guys better and to make Paul spend. … I feel very confident about what we have here. He was pretty clear about that, that when he thinks it’s the right time, he’ll do it, and he has done it.”
Makes you wonder…
… can Hillis play third base?