Results tagged ‘ Chris Perez ’

Breaking down the bullpen

After a few lovely days back in Ohio with the MLBastian Family, I’m back in Arizona. Apparently I brought a little Midwest back with me, though. Today was ugly and rainy and the Indians’ game against the Royals was canceled as a result.

Ah, but poor weather does not stop the rumor mill now does it?

Early Monday morning, a report surfaced that the Indians had placed right-handed reliever Jensen Lewis on waivers. Now, some of you out there have contacted me asking why Cleveland “waived” Lewis, which makes it sound like he was cut or released. That is something entirely different.

Now, I am not sitting here claiming to be an expert on all the nuances of the MLB waiver system. I’m still learning about the whole process, but after six years in baseball I’ve got a pretty good feel for the general way things work. News of Lewis being exposed to waivers is news in the sense that there was news that Lewis was exposed to waivers.

Confused?

What I mean is a lot of players are placed on waivers in the latter stages of Spring Training. Similarly, lots of players are run through waivers after the non-waiver July 31 Trade Deadline. It is a way to gauge interest in players, putting them temporarily up for grabs to other teams, but it does not always mean the players will be moved.

In Lewis’ case, I can’t confirm whether he was or was not placed on waivers. What I can tell you is that it would make sense if he was. He is having a rough spring and he is out of options. If a team puts in a claim, maybe a deal can be worked out. If there is no claim, then Lewis can be sent outright to the Minor Leagues.

For now, Lewis is very much a member of the Indians. Will he be in the Opening Day bullpen? Well, if he was indeed run through waivers, that could be an indication that it’s more likely he’s got a bus ticket to Triple-A Columbus in his future.

Let’s look at how the bullpen shapes up right now…

LOCKS: Chris Perez, Rafael Perez, Chad Durbin, Tony Sipp

OPEN SPOTS: Three

OTHER CANDIDATES: Jensen Lewis, Joe Smith, Justin Germano, Frank Herrmann, Vinnie Pestano, Doug Mathis, Jess Todd

Smith is still fighting a strained upper abdominal muscle and appears doubtful for Opening Day. Lewis is out of options, but that issue might be in the process of being solved via the waiver situation. Lewis is still in the mix for an Opening Day spot, but let’s assume for the sake of argument that he’s more likely headed to Triple-A.

That would leave Germano, Herrmann, Pestano, Mathis and Todd for three spots (also assuming Smith won’t be ready). Germano and Mathis are in camp on Minor League deals, meaning someone would have to be removed from the 40-man roster for them to be added to the roster. Obviously, if Lewis is outrighted to the Minors (he can’t refuse such an assignment) that would vacate a roster spot.

Pestano seems to be a logical fit for the bullpen, especially if Smith isn’t ready to go. Indians manager Manny Acta raved about Germano on Monday and reiterated how important it is for the Indians to have a reliever or two capable of logging multiple innings. Germano, Herrmann and Mathis fit that mold.

Now is your time to play GM. With the current choices and situation, who would make your Opening Day bullpen for the Tribe?

For the rest of today’s news, check Indians.com.

–JB

Red Cedar Faithful Rejoice!

tom-izzo.jpgThis has been a strange college basketball season for me and my fellow Michigan State fans and alums. Up is down. Down is up. The Spartans lived on the bubble.

I didn’t know what it was like to root for a program that might not make the NCAA tournament. I was actually pretty convinced MSU wasn’t going to get into the big dance this spring.

Naturally, it took until the end of the Selection Sunday show for the Spartans to find out that they did, in fact, get an invitation to the tournament this year. That’s 14 straight tourney appearances in a row!

I haven’t really followed the basketball season too much this year. Between heart-breaking loss after heart-breaking loss, and being busy with baseball, I just decided to take a step back and not let this season drag me down. But today I sported my Spartans hat and was thrilled when Tom Izzo and Gang Green from East Lansing got the nod.

Way to go, fellas. Now live up to your tourney rep!

Now, I know what you’re thinking. I live in Ohio now. Time to stop rambling on here about my Big Ten school.

Well, hey, at least I ain’t rooting for Michigan. And, you know what? Big congrats to THE Ohio State University for getting the No. 1 overall seed. Well earned. And playing in Cleveland to start off? That should be a blast. Likewise, congrats to Akron on its tourney invite. Drawing Notre Dame IN Chicago is no easy task, though.

Can’t wait to fill out a few brackets.

But you didn’t come here to read about college basketball…

Sunday’s notes:

  • Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore took a major step Sunday morning in his recovery from microfracture surgery on his left knee. For the first time since the operation, Sizemore tested his knee with some baserunning. He said everything felt fine and he’s down to do more baserunning drills on Tuesday and possibly Thursday.
  • Following the two additional baserunning workouts, combined with more sprint and agility work, plus outfield drills and batting practice, Sizemore could be ready to play in games for the first time this spring. He said Saturday would be the earliest he might be able to get into a game. March 21 or March 22 at the latest, if all goes well. CLICK HERE for more.
  • Chatted with third baseman Jason Donald on Sunday morning about his left hand injury. He said he irritated the hand with a swing on Friday and an MRI exam on Saturday revealed a bone bruise. He is not allowed to swing a bat for three days. I’d say it’s at least another five days before he’s back in a game setting. Indians manager Manny Acta said “nothing has changed” with the third base situation. CLICK HERE for more.
  • Right-hander Joe Smith has not pitched since Wednesday and he was not listed to throw on either Sunday or Monday. He told me he’s been fighting upper abdominal soreness and that’s why he’s been out for a brief period here. Smith said, if all goes as planned, he hopes to be back on the hill by Tuesday or Wednesday.
  • Closer Chris Perez has been working on a changeup since late last season, but the right-hander is not satisfied with where he’s at with the new pitch. He said the changeup won’t be ready in time for the start of the season. At this point in camp, it’s time to focus on his two main weapons, the fastball and slider. Perez said right now he is concentrating on throwing his slider inside to lefties.
  • When Perez’s changeup is working properly, he said the idea is that the offspeed pitch would dive away from lefties, acting like a sinker. So far, the movement on the pitch has been inconsistent. He also said it is too “hard” at times, meaning there is not a big enough gap in mph between the fastball and changeup. Ideally, he said there should consistently be a 7-8 mph differential.
  • The Indians took it on the chin on Sunday, dropping a 7-2 decision to the Padres in Peoria in Cactus League play and losing 11-8 to the White Sox in a morning “B” game in Glendale. In the “B” game, Carlos Santana and Cord Phelps belted back to back homers. Hot-hitting Lonnie Chisenhall went 3-for-4. Pitching prospect Alex White allowed three runs in 2 2/3 innings.
  • Right-hander Carlos Carrasco worked three innings against San Diego, allowing three runs on six hits and ending with two strikeouts and one walk. He threw 54 pitches, including 36 strikes. Acta said he liked how Carrasco threw, but noted that the pitcher struggled with leaving a few breaking balls up in the strike zone.
  • Lefty David Huff had a rough (near) three-inning appearance against the Padres. More to the point, Huff was strong for two innings and then had his final frame fall apart on him. Overall, he allowed four runs (all in the seventh inning) on six hits in 2 2/3 innings. Acta said Huff has thrown “decent” this spring. Not a glowing endorsement for a guy vying for the fifth spot in the rotation.
  • Huff’s main competitors for that final starting job are Josh Tomlin and Jeanmar Gomez. Gomez is slated to pitch on Monday against the A’s. Ask me, and I’ll say Tomlin is the favorite to win the fifth spot right now. The field for the fifth spot will likely be narrowed by Acta in the next week.

Before I go…

The Indians media guide just didn’t seem accurate with a clean-shaven Chris Perez pictured on page 169. So I grabbed my black pen and corrected the issue.

PerezGuide.jpg

Be sure to keep checking the blog and Indians.com for updates from camp. Also, make sure you’re following along on Twitter (@MLBastian).

Stay tuned for more…

–JB

Pom[eranz] Wonderful

Pomeranz2.jpgMike Pomeranz felt it was time to teach his son how to throw a curveball. Not just any curve, either. It was a spike curve, thrown with the index finger bent and dug into the seams.

So Mike began showing his boy Stuart how to use the signature pitch, one that the elder Pomeranz used in high school and as a collegiate pitcher at Ole Miss.

Stuart’s little brother didn’t want to be left out.

“My dad started showing my brother,” Indians lefty Drew Pomeranz said on Sunday. “Of course, the four-year-younger brother wants to do it, too.”

Mr. Pomeranz obliged, teaching Stuart and also 11-year-old Drew how to fire off the sharp breaking pitch.

Stuart Pomeranz developed into a second-round Draft pick for the Cardinals (2003) and is entering his seventh pro season. Drew eventually became the fifth overall selection in the first round of the 2010 Draft, grabbed by the Tribe.

On Sunday, Drew Pomeranz made his second appearance of the spring for Cleveland, working two shutout innings in a 3-1 loss to Colorado. The 6-foot-5 southpaw struck out three, allowing no walks and no hits.

That curveball? It was making hitters look silly.

“Me and Belch were talking about it,” said Indians manager Manny Acta, referring to pitching coach Tim Belcher. “When it’s not for a strike, guys won’t even swing at it, because it’s so sharp with a tight rotation. The breaking ball is very impressive.”

Pomeranz was able to cruise through the college ranks at University of Mississippi primarily using his hard fastball and spike curve. Maybe once or twice a start he’d flip a changeup over just to keep hitters honest. He mainly got by on just two pitches, though.

That will be the difference this year for the 22-year-old Pomeranz. In the pros, having a third pitch is important and that is what the Indians want him to focus on throughout the upcoming season. Pomeranz will likely open the year with a Class A affiliate and Double-A could be reached before the end of the year.

That nasty breaking ball could be in the bigs as soon as 2012.

Notes from Sunday…

  • RHP Justin Masterson didn’t have the best outing on Sunday, but he was pleased with the improvement in his sinker and with his ability to consistently repeat his delivery. I can’t emphasize enough that results this early do not hold the most importance, especially for a pitcher who knows he has a spot on the team. Masterson’s line: 3 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 1 HBP.
  • 3B prospect Lonnie Chisenhall continued on his early tear, going 2-for-4 with a long homer to right field in Sunday’s loss to the Rockies. He’s now hitting .467 for the spring and he’s looked solid at the hot corner. Could Chisenhall make the Opening Day roster? Hey, anything is possible. But know that he’s been told that he’s heading to the Minors to open the season. He’s in camp for experience.
  • Spoke with 3B Jason Donald at the Indians complex this morning and he said the swelling in his left hand (still wrapped) had gone down. Donald was hit by a pitch on the hand on Saturday, but X-rays came back negative. He is scheduled to take part in Monday’s workout and could be available again for games as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday.
  • OF Michael Brantley has been out of the lineup for the past three games, but Acta told me it’s nothing to be too concerned about. Brantley has “lower body soreness” and was given a few days off. No one would be more specific than that. Head athletic trainer cited general knee and hamstring soreness. He could be back in the lineup on Monday or Tuesday.
  • Recently-signed reliever Chad Durbin has thrown a couple of bullpen sessions and he is getting closer to being ready for games. Before he makes his Cactus League debut, the veteran right-hander will pitch in a “B” game against the Reds on Tuesday. The game will be at Cleveland’s complex at 9:30 am local time.
  • RHP Anthony Reyes threw off a mound in a bullpen session on Sunday morning and Acta said there were no issues with the elbow soreness that plagued him earlier in camp. Reyes threw 36 pitches in a session that lasted about eight minutes. He will need to work through a couple more bullpens before being cleared for games, Acta said.
  • UTIL Shelley Duncan was in the lineup Sunday as a left fielder one day after making his spring debut, serving as a first baseman. Duncan said the strained back muscle is no longer an issue and noted that he felt “normal” while swinging. Duncan is competing for a job as a LF/1B/DH. Chad Huffman is also in that mix.
  • Acta said he will not have one person in mind as a DH for days when Travis Hafner is not in the lineup this season. The manager plans on cycling a few players in and out of the DH spot to provide days of rest from playing the field. That would be helpful for guys like Carlos Santana and Grady Sizemore, who are returning from knee issues. Against tough lefties, Acta might go with a right-handed option like Duncan or Huffman, depending on who makes the club.
  • RHP Jeanmar Gomez, who is in the running for the fifth rotation job, allowed four runs in 2 1/3 innings in his outing on Saturday. Acta said Gomez’s velocity and pitch movement were good, but his control was not there like usual. RHP Josh Tomlin and LHP David Huff are also vying for that fifth spot.
  • Indians closer Chris Perez is human. I may have jinxed him in a previous blog post by saying he has been turning in “boring” outings. My bad. Against the Rockies, Pure Rage allowed one run on two hits with one walk.
  • OF Trevor Crowe (right rotator cuff soreness) said Sunday morning that he was scheduled to meet with Dr. Mark Schickendantz on Monday to be re-evaluated. If everything goes according to plan, Crowe said he hopes to resume a throwing program next week.
  • Right-hander Carlos Carrasco should be back with the team on Monday, according to Acta. Carrasco has been in Florida to be with his wife for the birth of their child. Congrats. Fatherhood is a blast.

Be sure to keep checking the blog and Indians.com for updates from camp. Also, make sure you’re following along on Twitter (@MLBastian) and check out the “Jordan Bastian” fan page on Facebook for links to stories, blogs, photos and more. You can view more spring photos by checking out the stream on yfrog.com as well.

Stay tuned for more…

–JB

“We didn’t start the fire”


Drier.jpgYou know it’s just going to be one of those days when you wake up to an e-mail from the Indians PR director that reads:

“There was a fire outside the locker room area at the ballpark last night/early this morning that has been contained and damage is being assessed as we speak.”

Lovely.

It was not a big blaze. In fact, the fire was contained to one appliance: “The Burner.”

When the Indians pulled up the stakes in Winter Haven, Fla., and moved across the country to Goodyear, Ariz., for Spring Training a few years ago, a large dryer was rolled onto one of the moving trucks. It had a reputation for running a little hot.

Thus, the nickname.

Well, on Friday morning, as “The Burner” did its worst to a batch of towels at Goodyear Ballpark, a small fire broke out. Emergency crews were on the scene at 6 a.m. local time and the stadium did not suffer any structural damage. Only Mr. Burner was hurt. There he sat, charred and obliterated, resting in a pool of water.

Farewell, sweet prince.

As a result of the small fire, the Rockies had to take batting practice at their home ballpark. The afternoon tilt at Goodyear Ballpark went on as planned, though. There was a lot of standing water in the laundry room, in an indoor batting cage across the hall and on the right-field warning track, but it was all cleaned up throughout the day.

CLICK HERE for a story I wrote on the fire and check out the short video with it. I think I should be up for some cinematography award for my excellent b-roll footage.

You just never know what to around here on any given day.

Friday’s notes…

  • Shin-Soo Choo made his Cactus League debut in right field during Friday’s 6-2 win over the Rockies. He played five innings and admitted he felt tired as the game wore on. Choo added that he talked to head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff, who said the fatigue was normal, considering the outfielder spent the last week building up his arm strength and not playing the field. Choo had served only as a DH up to this point.
  • Choo made it clear before spring that he did not want to discuss a contract extension once the regular season began. As of Friday, Choo said he had not heard from GM Chris Antonetti or his agent Scott Boras about any ongoing talks. I have said it before and I’ll say it again. If Choo signs a long-term deal, I think next winter is the most likely time it would happen.
  • Staying with Choo here for a moment, he was asked what he would consider a good season. Choo did not hesitate, answering only: “Playoffs.” Choo said that is his only goal, no matter what outside expectations are for the Tribe.
  • Center fielder Grady Sizemoe (left knee) took another step forward — pun intended? — in his rehab on Friday. Sizemore took part in outfield group drills, catching fly balls and fielding grounders. He also upped the intensity of his agility and sprint drills, noting that the day’s exercises had him moving “in all directions.” He also took part in batting practice as usual.
  • Right-hander Anthony Reyes resumed a throwing program on Friday after being shut down for the past five days due to elbow soreness. Reyes played catch and reported no issues. He worked to a distance of 90 feet. If all goes well, Cleveland hopes to have Reyes back on a mound next week.
  • The Stork is busy this week, too. Carlos Carrasco left the team on Friday to head to Florida to be with his wife for the birth of their child. Left-hander Rafael Perez rejoined the team Friday after being in New York for the birth of his child. Congrats.
  • Chatted for a while with first baseman Matt LaPorta this morning. Check Indians.com tomorrow for a feature. Briefly, he feels drastically different than he did a year ago thanks to a normal offseason. On the bases and at the plate, he feels like a completely different player now that his legs are strong. Indians manager Manny Acta has been very pleased with what he’s seen so far as well.
  • Third base prospect Lonnie Chisenhall went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and a long home run in Friday’s win. For the spring — yes, I know, sample size alert — he is batting .500. He’s off to a hot start and is ticketed for Triple-A Columbus. I asked Acta if Chisenhall was trying to make the team anyway. “We encourage everybody that it doesn’t matter what we tell them in those two-on-one meetings [with the manager and general manager],” Acta said. “They should have that type of mentality. It has happened before.”
  • Indians Opening Day starter Fausto Carmona went three innings on Friday, allowing one run on three hits against the Rockies. Indians closer Chris Perez continued to be bored — just what you want your close to be — with one shutout inning  of work. Indians pitching prospect Alex White logged two scoreless frames.
  • Tomorrow the Indians have split squad games at home (White Sox) and on the road (Mariners). Pitching at home will be David Huff (starting), Joe Martinez, Zach McAllister, Vinnie Pestano, Zach Putnam and Jess Todd. Pitching on the road will be Jeanmar Gomez (starting in place of Carrasco), Kelvin De La Cruz, Jensen Lewis, Yohan Pino, Tony Sipp, Joe Smith and Bryce Stowell.

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Photo of the day:

Shadows.jpg

New blog profile photo.

That’s Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and I
watching some of the game while waiting to interview Fausto Carmona.

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Be sure to keep checking the blog and Indians.com for updates from camp. Also, make sure you’re following along on Twitter (@MLBastian) and check out the “Jordan Bastian” fan page on Facebook for links to stories, blogs, photos and more. You can view more spring photos by checking out the stream on yfrog.com as well.

Stay tuned for more…–JB

Waiting to exhale

Santana5.jpgThere were a few gasps here in the Goodyear Ballpark pressbox during today’s first inning, when Indians catcher Carlos Santana tried to score on a close play at the plate.

Santana singled with two outs off Dodgers righty Chad Billingsley and then was off and running on an opposite-field single by Travis Hafner. In left field, L.A.’s Tony Gwynn Jr. booted the ball, opening the door for Santana to go to third.

Santana took things up a noth and bolted around third and headed toward the plate. The throw from left beat him and catcher Rod Barajas was planted as Santana came barreling in.

Indians manager Manny Acta held his breath.

“That’s the first reaction,” Acta said.

Not to mention, it was Santana who had his left knee seriously injured in a collision at the plate last August. Boston’s Ryan Kalish slid into Santana, who went on to have knee surgery as a result. Fortunately for the Indians, Santana is back at 100 percent with no restrictions.

The play in the first also showed he is back without any hesitation, too.

“He was more than willing to go,” Acta said, “and show that he had no fear. That’s good.”

The part that wasn’t good? The headfirst slide into the plate. Santana dove forward, trying to get a hand on the plate — close to wear Barajas’ left foot was firmly planted. It was a dangerous decision so early in Spring Training. Ezequiel Carrera slid headfirst into home in the seventh, too. It is a technique that the Tribe does not encourage.

“It’s something that we preach against,” Acta said. “I think that 30 Major League clubs preach against that, but it’s such an instinctive play. Even when we covered that the other day in our baserunning lecture, guys will still go and do it. Both guys got an earful.”

Santana was ruled out. But he got up, brushed himself off and recovered fine. For a moment, it was a scary play for the Indians. Santana will be a critical part of any success the club hopes to have during the coming campaign.

There were lots of notable things in camp today, so let’s get to it.

Notes from Tuesday…

  • The Indians learned late Monday that outfielder Austin Kearns was arrested near Lexington, Ky., on charges of driving under the influence back on Feb. 12. Kearns arrived in camp around Feb. 16 or so and did not alert the team of the situation. Kearns spoke about the matter on Tuesday and indicated that he was advised not to inform the team. A source told me Kearns originally wanted to tell the club what happened at the time of his arrest, but he acted on the advice of his attorney. No matter how you slice it, this was an unfortunate situation. Kearns met with GM Chris Antonetti and Acta on Tuesday morning to talk things over. CLICK HERE for more on Indians.com.
  • I’ve reported all spring that it was unlikely that center fielder Grady Sizemore (microfracture surgery on his left knee in June) would be ready in time for Opening Day with the Indians. Antonetti had not said as much until Tuesday, when he admitted that Sizemore was unlikely to be recovered by April 1. Sizemore is still working through sprint and agility tests and taking batting practice. He has yet to run the bases or really test his legs by changing direction while running. No outfield drills yet. Needless to say, there are still a number of tests he needs to pass before being cleared for any type of game action.
  • Guess who arrived at the Indians’ complex this morning? Hint: he had a Phillies equipment bag in his locker. Yes, the reported deal for Chad Durbin finally came to fruition on Tuesday. Durbin is officially a member of the bullpen on a one-year deal worth $800,000. Who is getting the boot from the 40-man roster? We don’t know just yet. I’d expect that announcement to come on Wednesday.
  • There could be another new face in camp soon, too. As of Tuesday evening, the Indians were close to signing free-agent Nick Johnson to a Minor League deal with a spring invite. He would likely act as insurance behind Matt LaPorta at first base. He also has experience as a DH. This looks mostly like a depth move on the surface. I wouldn’t expect this to become official right away. Johnson underwent two surgeries on his right wrist last year and has a long history of injury. That means an extensive physical process before the Tribe would comfirm a possible signing.
  • The list of Indians players who are banged up keeps growing. Acta noted on Tuesday that utility man Shelley Duncan was “dinged up” after pulling a muscle in his back while swinging a bat in batting practice last week. Duncan has been held out of games and will likely remain out for the next few days.
  • More updates on the walking wounded. Antonetti noted that outfielder Trevor Crowe (rotator cuff soreness) would likely be cleared to resume throwing “shortly.” It’s still a no-go for righty Anthony Reyes, though. Reyes is out with right elbow soreness and Antonetti said there is still no timetable for his return to a throwing program.
  • An interesting item worth noting is that, until Tuesday, Acta has maintained all spring that the outfield would be Kearns in left, Michael Brantley in center and Shin-Soo Choo in right in the event that Sizemore was not ready for Opening Day. Acta has changed his tune some. The manager even suggested that the Indians might consider a platoon situation in left field.
  • Choo had the day off from the starting lineup on Tuesday, but he replaced Hafner as the DH midway through the game. The plan was for Choo (sore left elbow) to throw from 120 feet on Tuesday. He’ll take Wednesday off from playing and there is a chance he’ll make his spring debut in right field as early as Thursday.
  • Oh, hey, a game took place on Tuesday. The Indians beat the Dodgers, 2-1, but we don’t care about the final score, remember? What does matter is that righty Carlos Carrasco logged two shutout innings, as did lefty David Huff. Carrasco’s is in the rotation and Huff is trying to harness the magic of his Samurai-warrior-slaying-the-three-headed-dragon tattoo to win the fifth spot. Huff retired all six hitters he faced and struck out the side in the fifth. Closer Chris Perez logged one scoreless inning of work.
  • Carrasco said he did not throw any curves because he never fell into a count where he would use that pitch. He stuck with fastballs, changeups and sliders. Carrasco said he has been working hard on his slider this spring. Last year, it acted more like a cutter. Now, he says there is a harder late break with the pitch.
  • Up next: Indians head to Phoenix to take on the A’s. Justin Masterson is slated to start and Doug Mathis, Vinnie Pestano, Drew Pomeranz, Zach Putnam, Joe Smith and Jess Todd are also down to appear. Names circled on the travel sheet: Carlin, Chen, Phillips, Brown, Chisenhall, Everett, Hafner, LaPorta, Nix, Hannahan, Kipnis, Phelps, Valbuena, Brantley, Buck, Huffman and Carrera.
  • I have postponed the weekly Inbox until tomorrow. A lot has happened in the past few days, so I’m sure you all have questions. If you want to have a shot at being included, send any Indians inquiries to IndiansInbox@gmail.com with your name and hometown.

That’s all for today…

…but that was plenty, right?

Be sure to keep checking the blog and Indians.com for updates from camp. Also, make sure you’re following along on Twitter (@MLBastian) and check out the “Jordan Bastian” fan page on Facebook for links to stories, blogs, photos and more. You can view more spring photos by checking out the stream on yfrog.com as well.

–JB

The kids are all right

It’s the same story every spring. The regulars get their work in during the early innings of exhibition games and the fate of the game is handed to players with uniform numbes that reach into ths 70s and 80s.

Sunday’s opener against the Reds was no different. For Cincinnatti, No. 77 launched one in a series of back-to-back homers in the eighth inning. For Cleveland, No. 76 went 2-for-2 with two doubles and an RBI. No. 65 belted the Tribe’s first homer of the Cactus League season. Overall, two runs were scored in the first six innings and 11 in the final three.

“That’s what usually happens in camp,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “You win a lot of games in Spring Training when you have a good farm system and agood Triple-A team, because the regulars, they usually just play four or five innings at the beginning and then they get out of there.

“Then, those guys are the ones who pick up the game and usually end up making things happen for you.”

Sunday’s star at the plate for the Tribe was that No. 76: Lonnie Chisenhall. He hit a laser of a double to right field in the seventh and added one to the left-center gap in the ninth. No. 65 — outfielder Ezequiel Carrera — did him one better in the seventh with a two-run homer to right field, marking the first blast of the spring for Cleveland.

Notes from Sunday…

  • You’ll quickly learn that I don’t put a whole lot of emphasis on the final score of Spring Training games. Neither should you. But, no matter what I say, there are still those diehards who want to know how the local nine fared. Well, the Tribe dropped the opener to the Redlegs, 7-6.
  • Chatted some this morning with Shin-Soo Choo, who said an MRI on his left elbow revealed no structural damage. He threw from 90 feet with no issues on Sunday and will advance to 120 feet Monday and 150 feet Tuesday. Wednesday might be a day off. He could be back in right field as early as Thursday. Choo is expected to be in the lineup as a DH on Monday.
  • Acta recently dubbed Anthony Reyes a “sleeper” in the competition for the vacancy at the back end of the rotation. Turns out Reyes has been a bit inactive lately. Acta told me Reyes is fighting some right elbow soreness — yes, the same elbow that needed Tommy John in 2009 — and he is not throwing right now. Acta said there is no timetable right now for when Reyes will be back on a mound. That said, Acta also noted that Reyes had his elbow examined by Dr. Lewis Yocum, who performed the pitcher’s TJ surgery, and there was no structural damage in the joint.
  • Add second baseman Orlando Cabrera to the list of players who are a little beat up right now. Acta noted that OC’s right elbow strength is not at 100 percent right now, but the manager said there is no concern. Cabrera played in Sunday’s game. Quoth the manager: “He’s a veteran guy and he knows what to do to get himself in shape. His throwing arm is not in complete shape yet. He’ll be fine.”
  • Two of the contenders for the open fifth spot logged some time on the mound against the Reds on Sunday. Josh Tomlin started and turned in two shutout innings, striking out one and creating five outs via grounders. Aaron Laffey worked one shutout frame with one hit allowed. Acta said Laffey only went one inning due to the need to get relievers in the game in the later frames as well.
  • A few bullpen arms got in some work Sunday, too. Closer Chris Perez worked the third inning in order to face some of the Reds’ regular hitters. He gave up one hit and no runs. Joe Smith worked one shutout inning. Jensen Lewis allowed one unearned run in his inning on the bump. Doug Mathis turned in a shutout frame as well.
  • As for that unearned run tacked on Lewis’ line, it came on a deep fly ball to left field off the bat of Jay Bruce. Indians left fielder Travis Buck lost the ball in the sun and was unable to make the catch. Not much else to say about that. It was bright out there today.
  • The Indians made sure to show rememberance for the late, great Bob Feller prior to Sunday’s spring opener. His No. 19 was painted into the grass in front of the Tribe’s dugout and displayed on a patch on the team’s right sleeves. Beyond the left-center wall was a banner with his number and the phrase, “Always In Our Hearts.” Cleveland also showed a tribute video on the scoreboard before the game.
  • For Monday’s game at Goodyear Ballpark against the Reds, Fausto Carmona will get the nod for Cleveland. Also down to pitch are Jeanmar Gomez, Rafael Perez, Frank Herrmann, Tony Sipp, Justin Germano, Josh Judy and Nick Hagadone.
  • When asked if RHP Chad Durbin made it into camp, Acta replied, “Who?” All joking aside, Durbin was likely in camp on Sunday for a physical to complete his signing. I’d expect the Indians to officially announce the one-year deal on Monday.
  • Catcher Carlos Santana caught two innings and had one plate appearance on Sunday and he reported no issues with his surgically-repaired left knee. At the time of his injury last August, Santana said he thought he might miss one or two years. He said he is extremeles excited about how well his knee has recovered. He’ll be back behind the plate on Tuesday, according to Acta.

Finally…

  • First, apologies for no photos on the blog post today. Not sure why the system wouldn’t let me post any. Technical difficulties. Second, if you haven’t checked out Castrovince’s latest blog post, diving into the Indians’ media guide, CLICK HERE to check it out. An entertaining read.

That’s all for today…

Be sure to keep checking the blog and Indians.com for updates from camp. Also, make sure you’re following along on Twitter (@MLBastian) and check out the “Jordan Bastian” fan page on Facebook for links to stories, blogs, photos and more. You can view more spring photos by checking out the stream on yfrog.com as well.

–JB

The best defense is a good defense

Donald2.jpgThe way things are shaping up, Jason Donald appears to be in a good position to land the opening at third base. Don’t believe me? Well, then take it from manager Manny Acta.

“Jason Donald, for us,” Acta said on Friday, “was going to be a guy who was going to get at-bats regardless of whether it was going to be at third or at second.”

Second base is not much of an option, considering the Indians just signed Orlando Cabrera with that spot in mind. Could a disastrous spring move Cabrera to the bench? Sure. But the real competition is now at third, not at second.

Also, consider that Donald noted on Friday that he has taken exactly zero grounders at second base or shortstop since arriving in camp. All of his attention has been on third base, which gives him the best chance of heading north as a part of the Tribe’s starting lineup.

Donald will get reps at second and short this spring, but right now he is concentrating soley on the hot corner. Also in the mix are Jayson Nix, Luis Valbuena and Jack Hannahan, as well as youngsters Jared Goedert and Cord Phelps (though Phelps will see most his action at second).

Acta has emphasized how important infield defense will be this season and the club believes Donald has the ability to handle the position. Here’s what Acta had to say when asked why Cleveland started to consider Donald as a realistic option for third…

“The fact that he was pushed to the big leagues last year, but he survived and played fairly well for us,” Acta said. “He worked during the offseason with [third-base coach and infield instructor]Steve Smith and Smitty saw a lot of things that he liked about it. We’ve seen some of those in the week that he’s been here. That’s pretty much it.”

Asked if Donald had the arm to handle third, Acta had no doubts.

“He’s a shortstop, yeah,” Acta replied. “He’s got a good enough arm to play third base.”

Donald’s only experience at third as a pro came in the Arizona Fall League in 2008 and at Triple-A in 2009. Donald said he played “some third base” in each instance. Right now, he said his biggest challenge is getting used to the different reads off the bat and the topspin on most grounders down the line.

Donald knows how important infield defense will be this season, too.

“We have more sinkerballers,” Donald said. “I think it’s very important. We’re not going to make any excuses, but we were trying to find things out about, ‘Can I play here?’, ‘Can this guy play here?’ and whatnot [in 2010]. I think now coming into camp, guys have a better idea of what their roles are.”

Note from Friday…

  • As long as we’re talking infield D, it’s worth noting that the Indians had the third-highest total of infield errors (72) in the American League in 2010. They made 27 errors at third, 25 at short and 10 each at second and first. Of Cleveland’s 110 errors as a team, 65.5% came in the infield (third-highest percentage in AL).
  • Acta was quick to point out that much of the infield’s defensive issues a year ago stemmed from losing Asdrubal Cabrera to injury and trading away Jhonny Peralta. That said… “It’s in the past and we need to play better defense,” Acta added. The Indians are hoping having Orlando Cabrera at second and a healthy Cabrera at short will help bring some stability to the infield alignment.
  • Chatted some with righty Justin Masterson today (Shameless plug: check indians.com later today for a feature on him). He said the biggest challenge for him this season is to remain consistent with his delivery mechanics. That’s not always easy to do for someone of his size (6-6, 250). Masterson and pitching coach Tim Belcher developed some “checkpoints” in his delivery down the stretch last year and the big righty is hoping to carry that into the upcoming campaign.
  • Acta discussed the bullpen picture some on Friday. The only “locks” right now are Chris Perez, Rafael Perez and Tony Sipp. Acta said Joe Smith and Jensen Lewis “have a leg up” on the others. So, by process of elimination, that leaves two jobs up for grabs this spring with a whole lotta arms in the running.
  • Acta noted that he would “ideally” prefer to have “at least one” pitcher in the bullpen capable of logging multiple innings. Aaron Laffey could handle that role, but Acta did not want to lable Laffey a long-relief option until the pitcher is no longer considered a possibility for the fifth rotation job.
  • Besides Laffey, Acta said some long relief options include Frank Herrman, Justin Germano and Joe Martinez. Two more pitchers who could enter that mix later this spring are Anthony Reyes and Josh Tomlin. Acta said Reyes and Tomlin could be considered for the ‘pen if it becomes clear that they are not going to win the fifth starter’s role.
  • Cleveland’s position players were required to report to Arizona on Friday and they will undergo their physicals on Saturday. Sunday is the first scheduled full-squad workout. As far as I’ve been able to tell, everyone has been in camp. Austin Kearns arrived to the complex in Goodyear on Thursday.
  • One name that has not come up too often in the discussions about second and third base is that of veteran infielder Adam Everett, signed to a Minor League contract over the winter. Acta said Everett will compete for the infield utility job.
  • The Indians outrighted Martinez to Triple-A Columbus on Friday to clear room on the 40-man roster for the signing of Orlando Cabrera. Martinez will remain in camp as a non-roster invitee. Currently, the Tribe has 61 players (31 pitchers, 14 infielders, 10 outfielders and six catchers) in camp with the big league club.

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Photo of the day:

GM Chris Antonetti keeps an eye on Friday’s workout

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Be sure to keep checking the blog and Indians.com for updates from camp. Also, make sure you’re following along on Twitter (@MLBastian) and check out the “Jordan Bastian” fan page on Facebook for links to stories, blogs, photos and more.

More tomorrow. Stay tuned…

–JB

Pitchers, catchers & tweeters report

PerezBullpen2.jpgThat there on the right is Indians closer Chris Perez, working through a bullpen session on Tuesday morning at the player development complex here in Goodyear.

If we’re to believe @PureRage_Perez, not pictured here are all the people fleeing in terror before this fastball was unleashed. Rumor has it no one was willing to catch Perez and now the Indians are faced with a hefty repair bill after the closer’s heaters ripped apart the chain-link fence behind home plate.

Ah, Twitter.

It’s been a great tool for members of the media to deliver news and interact with readers. It’s also been a good tool for athletes to interact with fans. Twitter has its obvious risks, but it has also proven quite useful. That’s one reason why the Indians are embracing the social-networking site.

Manager Manny Acta joined recently under the handle @Mactriber_11 and you can find players like Perez (@ChrisPerez54), Jensen Lewis (@JLEWFifty) and Matt LaPorta (@Gator4God) on there as well. The Tribe also has prospects Drew Pomeranz, Nick Hagadone and Zach McAllister on the site.

Could Indians GM Chris Antonetti be next?

“I think soon,” he said with a grin on Tuesday. “It’s part of an organizational initiative.”

When we started joking about Antonetti’s policy on not commenting on rumors or discussing contract talks before deals are official, the GM laughed and quipped, “I can do that. I’ll tweet ‘no comment.'”

If he does sign up, Antonetti would become the first active Major League general manager on Twitter.

Notes from Tuesday…

  • Predictably, Antonetti wouldn’t budge on his policy when we asked him if there was any update on the Orlando Cabrera situation. The GM did offer this: “I think you guys have accurately reported to date. I’ll leave it at that.” So, I’ll report here that Cabrera still needs to pass a physical and the Indians will likely announce his 1-year, Major League contract later this week.
  • Also likely to come later this week? News that the Indians are bringing Kenny Lofton in as a guest instructor. He’ll be in camp this spring to help out as a baserunning and outfield coach. Details of his role are still being worked out, but Lofton could have an expanded role during the regular season, assisting with community initiatives, for example.
  • On the starting pitching front, the Indians do not appear close to reeling in any additional help. Talks appear to have stalled with free-agents Jeremy Bonderman and Kevin Millwood. Said Antonetti: “We’re planning to proceed with the group that we have in camp. If an opportunity presents itself as we’re in camp, we’ll certainly look at it. But right now our expectations are that we’ll go with the group that we have.”
  • HuffCatch.jpgManager Manny Acta rattled off some names when asked about the candidates for the fifth job, citing David Huff (playing catch in the photo to the right), Jeanmar Gomez, Josh Tomlin, Anthony Reyes and “to an extent” Aaron Laffey. Acta said Laffey will get some innings early in camp and the Indians will work to quickly determine whether he will prepare as a starter or long reliever. The Tribe will not move him back and forth this season.
  • Beyond working to add Lofton, the Indians announced Tuesday that they hired Eduardo Perez and Jason Bere as special assistants to baseball operations. They will help out on the field this spring and will continue to assist at both the Major and Minor League levels this season. Perez will also continue in his role as an analyst with ESPN.
  • Pitchers and catchers officially reported to Arizona on Tuesday and Acta said everyone is accounted for. Physicals for pitchers and catchers take place Wednesday with the first official workout slated for Thursday. Also on Wednesday, Acta and Antonetti will meet with each pitcher and catcher individually to discuss expectations for spring and the coming season.
  • Both Acta and Antonetti said they have been thrilled with the progress of Grady Sizemore (left knee). Said the GM: “First and foremost, it’s great to see him on the field. And in talking with him, he feels a comfort level swinging the bat and throwing that he didn’t have before with his knee.” Antonetti said, even before Sizemore went on the DL or had surgery, he was having problems putting weight on his back leg while hitting. That has not been an issue so far this spring.
  • As far as Sizemore’s running program goes, Acta said the plan is to “accelerate” the running during the first week of March. That would likely mean baserunning drills and full participation in outfield work and agility exercises. Sizemore noted on Monday that he hopes to begin testing his knee with agility work later this week or early next week.
  • Acta did not bite when asked if Sizemore would automatically be the leadoff man whenever he returns to the lineup. Said the skipper: “He’s going to be in the lineup. It’s a good question and everybody wants to know, but right now we’re trying to get this guy healthy. Then, we’ll give you your material later. It’s just that it’s more than him involved in the situation.” Fair enough.

Be sure to keep checking the blog and Indians.com for updates from camp. Also, make sure you’re following along on Twitter (@MLBastian) and check out the “Jordan Bastian” fan page on Facebook for links to stories, blogs, photos and more.

More tomorrow. Stay tuned…

–JB

Manny Media

ActaTweet.jpgLike White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen before him — oh, boy — Indians skipper Manny Acta has joined the Twitterverse. With Spring Training nearly upon us, we can all now get a glimpse of the world according to Manny.

If you’re on Twitter, you can find all Acta’s Mannyisms under the handle @Mactriber_11. It’s the latest plunge into social media on the part of the Indians, who are also planning on doing more on that area in thr future.

On Wednesday, Cleveland actually sent out an e-mail notification to promote Acta’s newly-created Twitter account. In the message, the club stated: “Acta’s presence on Twitter is part of an over-arching organizational social media strategy overseen by team president, Mark Shapiro. Future announcements regarding the Cleveland Indians use of social media will be forthcoming.”

Here is a taste of what to expect if you give Acta a follow…

Manny1.jpg
Manny2.jpg
Manny3.jpg
 

Eating home-cooked meals at mom’s house. Packing for Spring Training. Updates on Indians players from Arizona. If that’s a sample of what’s to come, should be entertaining and insightful to follow along.

As long as we’re pointing out some Indians-related accounts on Twitter, here are some others worth checking out:

@castrovince — Former Indians.com beat reporter & current MLB.com columnist
@MLBastian – Current Indians.com beat reporter (shameless plug!)
@Indians – Official Indians Twitter account
@tribeinsider — Front office account
@tribetalk — Front office account
@ChrisPerez54 – Indians closer Chris Perez
@JLEWfifty – Indians pitcher Jensen Lewis
@Gator4God – Indians first baseman Matt LaPorta
@RadioRosey — Jim Rosenhaus of the Indians Radio Network

@hoynsie – Plain Dealer beat guy Paul Hoynes
@jitribeinsider — News-Herald’s Jim Ingraham
@ABJ_indians — Beacon Journal’s Sheldon Ocker
@twithersAP — Associated Press’ Tom Withers
@TonyIPI – Tony Lastoria of IndiansProspectInsider.com
@CLBClippers – Triple-A Columbus
@AkronAeroes — Double-A Akron
@KinstonIndians — Class A Kinston
@LCCaptains — Class A Lake County
@mvscrappers – Class A Mahoning Valley
@mlbtrindians – MLB Trade Rumors Indians feed
@LetsGoTribe – Indians blog
@TheDiaTribe — Indians blog
@PureRage_Perez – Fake Chris Perez account

If there are others you think should be included on this list, feel free to mention them in the comments section below this post.

I’ll be writing, blogging & tweeting from Arizona starting Saturday.

~JB

 

Where the payroll stands

Calculator.jpgI always hated math. The problem throughout childhood was that I was also good at it. This creates quite an issue as you go through school.

I kept testing well, so they kept putting me in increasingly complicated math classes. When you absolutely hate math, this is awful. Maybe I should’ve picked some wrong answers on all those aptitude tests.

Then, the greatest thing happened when I arrived at Michigan State University. Because I was a journalism student, match wasn’t exactly a key requirement. You had to take some math as part of your overall studies, sure, but there was a way out.

I could test out. All those tests that put me in the advanced math classes had led to this — a test to get me out of them. So I took their little test, scored high enough and never had to take a math class while I was at MSU. Go Green!

Why the heck am I rambling on about all this? Well, turns out math is a big part of what I do now. And, because I haven’t studied it in so long, I’m prone to more errors now than I ever was as a kid. Thankfully, Baseball Math mainly sticks to the basics of addition, subtraction, multiplying and dividing.

Luckily, here in the real world — unlike in that jerk of a teacher’s calculus class way back in high school — calculators are allowed. Today’s lesson is in simple addition as we take a glance at how the Indians’ payroll looks in light of Tuesday’s signings of Shin-Soo Choo and the Pitchers Perez.

On the books for 2011

1. DH Travis Hafner: $13 million
2. CF Grady Sizemore: $7.5 million
3. SP Fausto Carmona: $6.1 million
4. OF Shin-Soo Choo: $3.975 million
5. CL Chris Perez: $2.225 million
6. SS Asdrubal Cabrera: $2.025 million
7. RP Rafael Perez: $1.33 million
8. OF Austin Kearns: $1.3 million
9. RP Joe Smith: $870,000
10. RP Jensen Lewis: $650,000

Total: $38.975 million

That figure does not include incentives that are within some of these deals. This leaves us with 15 spots on the Major League roster. For argument sake, let’s say Adam Everett makes the Opening Day roster and gets his $700,000 salary. Now, we’re at $39.675 million for the big-league payroll.

The 14 remaining spots will go to players who will earn at least the league minimum. As is the case with most clubs, some will earn slightly more. With the league minimum around $414,000, let’s go ahead and argue that the last 14 spots will earn an average of $450,000. That equates to $6.3 million.

Estimated total: $45.975 million

That’s a drop of around $15 million from where the payroll stood in 2010. Over the past two years, the payroll has decreased about $35 million. In the near future, the payroll will likely remain slim given the fact that the Tribe will be fielding so much youth, with a crop of prospects on the cusp of breaking into The Show.

These estimates obviously aren’t set in stone right now, but the numbers aren’t likely to vary all that much by Opening Day. Indians GM Chris Antonetti indicated on Tuesday that he is still exploring starting pitching options on the market. A Minor League contract with a spring invite seems the most likely scenario for any pending acquisition.

*Earlier, I wrote incorrectly that Chris Perez’s new deal was worth $2.25 million. His correct salary for the 2011 season is the one listed above at $2.225 million. Apologies.

~JB

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