(Don’t) Swing Away

Today was Day 1 of Manny Acta’s famous — well, around here anyways — “tracking” program. For the first couple days of live batting practice sessions, which has the pitcher throwing to hitters without any screens on the field, batters are not permitted to swing.

The technique serves a couple purposes. For one, the pitchers are always ahead of the hitters this early in camp. So this gives hitters the chance to stand in, watch different pitches and work on their timing. Beyond that, it gives the pitchers the first chance to locate with a batter standing at the plate. It’s a whole different feel without a body in the box.

The shot above is of Indians starter Josh Tomlin throwing with Shin-Soo Choo up to bat. Tomlin was among the eight arms that took part in today’s live BP rounds. The others included Jeremy Accardo, Nick Hagadone, Chris Seddon, Jeanmar Gomez, Frank Herrmann, Robinson Tejeda and Tyler Sturdevant.

There will be three days of these live BP sessions. Highlights for Monday include Ubaldo Jimenez and Kevin Slowey, among others. I’m also interested in getting a better look at Minor Leaguers C.C. Lee and Scott Barnes. Arms of note throwing Tuesday include Justin Masterson, Joe Smith, Tony Sipp, Vinnie Pestano and Rafael Perez.

Obviously, I’m burying the lede here, but if you’re a frequent visitor here, you surely saw the previous post. A noteable pitcher whose name was NOT listed for the three days of live BP was closer Chris Perez. It was learned this morning that he has a strained left oblique that could need 4-6 weeks of recovery.

Perez and the Indians are optimistic that he will be recovered and ready in time for Opening Day, so that is presumably a bullet dodged for the Bullpen Mafia. That said, you never know what the next five weeks might hold.

Some notes from Sunday…

  • If you haven’t read the story on Indians.com, or the previous blog post, let me bring you up to speed: Perez injured his oblique around pitches 25-30 during his first mound session of the spring on Thursday. The moral of the story, per head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff, is CP went too hard too soon out of the gates.
  • The timetable isn’t entirely clear, but CP said he hopes to be back by March 15. It’s worth noting that a player’s desires and approval by a medical staff do not always align. Perez is doing rehab now and hopes to add some more exercises to the mix in the next eight or nine days. Then, there is the matter or the throwing program after that.
  • Acta said that if — and he stressed the IF — Perez’s injury lingers and costs him more time than expected, right-handed setup man Vinnie Pestano would be the first in line to fill in as the team’s closer.
  • Acta also noted that Chris Ray, Dan Wheeler and Jeremy Accardo all have closing experience. This is not to say they’d be in the mix for a closing role if Perez were out. Acta was merely pointing out the wealth of late-inning experience in camp this spring. I mean, they’d have to make the team before anything else is even considered.
  • Herrmann was snapping off splitters today, which was a great sign. The pitch came and went for him last season. He’s entering his second season using the pitch with more of a comfort level with it. That’s also great, because it’s his best weapon against lefties, who hit .353 against him in 2011. Righties hit .231 against him.
  • Chatted some with Hagadone today as well. He’s itching to work his way into the bullpen mix this spring. Given his strikeout ability, he’s an intriguing option. Acta said the key is showing that he can command his fastball this spring. Hagadone said he’s also happy to be past the days of wondering if he’ll start or work as a reliever.
  • From the “let’s make something out of nothing” department, Jack Hannahan was working out with the “A” team during infield drills today. It was first baseman Casey Kotchman, second baseman Jason Kipnis, shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and Hannahan at third. It was Day 1 of fundamentals, so I’m sure Lonnie Chisenhall will rotate into that same group at some point. Stay tuned.
  • Acta noted that the Indians have a pair of intrasquad games on the schedule right now. Tentatively, there will be a 4 1/2 inning game on Wednesday at the complex and a 5 1/2 inning game on Thursday at Goodyear Ballpark. I’ll give more details when I can about scheduled pitchers and lineups.
  • Acta also noted that the team will likely play a handful of extra games this spring to help out with the high volume of players. Right now, there is one game already lined up. Cleveland will host the White Sox in a 10 a.m. MT “B” game on March 5 at the Indians player development complex.
  • Will probably do a feature on this at some point, but talked to infielder Cord Phelps some about his busy offseason. He spent a lot of time in San Francisco and made a trip to Hawaii. He also met up with a couple friends in Israel. Two of his college buddies did a 12,000-mile dirt bike journey from South Africa to Jerusalem and Phelps met them at the finish line. “It was inspiring,” Phelps said.
  • The Indians’ renion tour continued on Sunday, when Carlos Baerga arrived in camp as a gues instructor. Baerga was all smiled as he talked about how “special” it was to be back an a Tribe uniform coaching younger players. With Kenny Lofton, Mike Hargrove and Sandy Alomar Jr. also on hand, the ’95 squad is coming together nicely.
  • Don’t look now, but Baerga said he’s trying to convince Albert Belle to join them all in camp, too. Baerga joked that he might have to put Belle in a cage and have him dragged down here, but one way or another he wants to try to convince the ol’ slugger to make the trip.

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Caption Contest

The Winner

@DaffyDano “No, we’re safe.  Albert can’t hurt us in here”.

Runner-up

@iLoved5thGrade What do you think they call it ? I don’t know… I think it’s a Kipnis.

Honorable Mention

@SteveMcLove “And this, next to the Bengal Tiger cage, is where the rare wild LouMar is locked up when he’s not eating baserunners alive.”

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Thanks for playing.

Make sure you’re reading Indians.com and following me on Twitter (@MLBastian). To see more of my Spring Training photos, CLICK HERE.

Stay tuned for more…

–JB

2 Comments

I was hoping Chisenhall would greatly improve his defense this offseason. Has anyone heard how he has looked? Obviously he’s not on Hannahan’s level yet, but is it enough to say his bat+fielding is greater than Hannahan’s bat+fielding?

~
http://whereeverywinisbig.wordpress.com/

Hannahan is special defensively. I don’t know if Chisenhall will ever be that good defensively, but he should be average or just above average at third. His bat should help for sure.

http://tribereport.blogspot.com/

I take a look at who *should* lead-off for the Tribe in my latest (first) post.

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