Results tagged ‘ Jason Kipnis ’

Fausto goes first

You know what happens when you assume? Well, not much if the assumption at hand was that Indians starter Fausto Carmona was going to be on the bump come Opening Day.

It had not been officially announced by Cleveland, but it seemed a pretty safe bet that the plan was to give the ball to Carmona when the Tribe opens the season against the White Sox on April at Progressive Field. As any reporter knows, though, even if the question seems dumb or the answer appears obvious, you still have to ask.

So we did. And guess what?

“That’s a good assumption,” Indians manager Manny Acta said with a smile. “Yeah, he’s our Opening Day starter. He deserves that.”

It was so good of an assumption, in fact, that Carmona said he hadn’t been informed that he was in the plans for Opening Day. He’ll find out soon enough. Carmona would be the first Opening Day starter for the Indians not named CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee or Jake Westbrook since 2002, when Bartolo Colon made his third straight Opening Day start for Cleveland.

On Monday, Carmona turned in his first outing of Spring Training. In two innings against the Reds, he allowed no runs on one hit with one strikeout and one walk. Carmona tallied 29 pitches, including 22 for strikes.

Other notes from Monday…

  • Right fielder Shin-Soo Choo spent the day as the designated hitter for the Indians due to the mild soreness in his left elbow. He went 1-for-3 with an RBI single to left field. Prior to the game, Choo threw up to a distance of 105 feet and then took part in some fundamental drills, even making a couple throws, according to Acta. Choo said his arm felt great and the plan is to build up to 120 feet on Tuesday. Acta said Choo would DH one more day and then would likely have a day off on Wednesday. That means Choo could be back in right field for the Indians as early as Thursday, when the team heads to Surprise to take on the Rangers.
  • Center fielder Grady Sizemore (left knee) went through his usual rehab routine on Monday. The outfielder took part in batting practice and then did some sprint and agility drills. Acta said Sizemore did not add any new elements to his workout. There is still no established timetable for Sizemore’s Cactus League debut.
  • Right-hander Anthony Reyes said on Monday that his elbow soreness is not considered uncommon for a pitcher coming back from Tommy John surgery. He hasn’t thrown in a few days and he’s shut down for the time being, but Reyes said his arm feels better now than it did when he arrived in camp. Reyes is hoping to compete for the fifth spot in Cleveland’s rotation. Right now, though, he does not know when he’ll gain clearance to resume throwing.
  • Outfielder Travis Buck had a strong day for the Indians on Monday, going 3-for-3 with three runs scored and one RBI. He drove himself in with a towering home run to right field that landed atop the roof above the patio. Given the current injuries to Sizemore and Trevor Crowe, Buck will get a serious look for a bench role. “Very much so,” Acats said. “Travis has always been an interesting guy. This organization has liked him for a while.”
  • Also impressing early has been outfielder Ezequiel Carrera, who went 1-for-3 on Monday after launching a homer on Sunday. Carrera has been praised for his defense, but the Tribe wanted to see more from his bat this spring. So far, so good. That said, he’s still “depth” according to Acta. Translation: A few more things would have to happen for Carrera to really put himself into the Opening Day picture.
  • After Carmona’s outing, righty Jeanmar Gomez entered in relief and logged two innings for the Indians. Gomez allowed two hits, but escaped without allowing any runs. He finished with one strikeout. Gomez is competing against Josh Tomlin, David Huff and Aaron Laffey for the fifth spot.
  • This morning, I asked prospect Jason Kipnis about his unique stance. Prior to shifting into his ready position for swinging, he holds the bat relaxed and flat behind him, nearly parallel to the ground. It’s a style former players like Cal Ripken Jr. and Mickey Tettleton used. He said he began trying it midway through last season. He was cycling through various stances in an effort to find a comfort zone. He finally settled on this one, which he feels helps him keep his swing mechanics sound. Hey, whatever works. On Monday, Kipnis launched a homer in Cleveland’s 12-0 route of the Reds.
  • It seems worth noting that prospect Jared Goedert manned first base for a bit during Monday’s game. Goedert is a third baseman by trade, but if he winds up back at Triple-A Columbus to start the season, that spot will likely be occupied by top prospect Lonnie Chisenhall. Goedert might need to play first at Triple-A in order to maximize his playing time. Chisenhall and Jack Hannahan got all the innings at third on Monday.
  • This morning, upon seeing the starting lineup, Luis Valbuena smiled wide and said, “Yes, I made it in the lineup.” Valbuena got the nod at shortstop for Monday’s game and went 1-for-2 with one run scored. Valbuena has been discussed for third base, but his best route to the Opening Day roster will be as a utility player. He’s got competition in guys such as Jayson Nix, Adam Everett and Hannahan.
  • Highlight of the day? In the first inning, Fred Lewis (I had fun covering him last year in Toronto) sent a pitch from Carmona tailing toward the left-field line. Looked like a sure double. That was until Chad Huffman, who is trying to win a bench job with the Indians, made an all-out, head-first, horizontal diving catch to rob Lewis of extra bases.
  • Still no official welcoming for newly-signed relief pitcher Chad Durbin. The move is not officially complete, likely due to the process involved in making the subsequent roster move to vacate a spot on the 40-man roster. So, same as I said yesterday, I’d expect the Durbin signing to be officiall announced tomorrow.
  • Tomorrow’s pitchers against the Dodgers will include Carlos Carrasco (starting), Kelvin De La Cruz, Huff, Doug Mathis, Zach McAllister and Chris Perea. Pitchers down to throw in bullpen sessions include Mitch Talbot, Alex White and Josh Tomlin.

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

Finding Fausto

Fausto.jpgWhen Indians starter Fausto Carmona headed home to the Dominican Republic for the offseason, manager Manny Acta made sure the pitcher left him with his phone number.

Otherwise, it might have taken until Spring Training for the two to talk.

“Very few of us have access to him
over the offseason,” Acta said. “
He’s a very private person.”

That is one reason Acta believes Carmona (above photo courtesy of Dan Mendlik/Indians) was unaffected by the trade rumors that made the rounds throughout the winter.

“I don’t think that even got to him,” Acta said. “Fausto, he gets himself into his farm back home and he
works out. He’s not in the spotlight back home. I don’t think too many people were
interviewing him, asking him about that back home.”

Asked if he was aware of the trade rumors, Carmona smiled and offered a shrug. He said had it not been for other people bringing it to his attention from time to time, he would not have even known about the reports. Even when he did hear about the rumors, Carmona said it was not a big deal one way or another.

“I never read the newspaper in the Dominican Republic,” Carmona said. “I can’t control the situation. Sometimes somebody will see something on the internet and tell me. I don’t think about it. I have to be ready no matter what team I play for.”
 
“I’m very happy here. I’m ready to play.”

The rumors are sure to continue into the season. Carmona’s solid comeback showing in 2010 and his club-friendly contract alone will fuel the hot stove fires as we near the July 31 Trade Deadline. He went 13-14 with a 3.77 ERA for a team that lost 93 games last year and he was a workhorse with 210 1/3 innings logged.

Carmona is under contract for $6.1 million in 2011 and the Indians own club options for 2012 ($7 million), 2013 ($9 million) and 2014 ($12 million). Carmona has been tied to the Yankees in rumors more than any other team, but the pitcher hardly sounded concerned about the situation on Saturday morning.

“I’m working hard. I’m ready to go,” he said. “I want to have a good season.”

Notes from Saturday…

  • The Indians made it through their workout on Saturday before a heavy rain/wind storm ripped through the area. It was a crazy sight outside the complex, where sand was being stirred up and tumbleweeds rolled down the roads in waves. Pitchers managed to squeeze in their bullpen sessions outside before things took a turn for the worst.
  • Sunday will mark Cleveland’s first full-squad workout of the spring. Acta said pitchers will throw off the mounds in live BP sessions, but the hitters won’t be swinging. For the first two days, hitters will be tracking pitches. This is the second year in a row the Tribe has practiced this exercise with Acta running the show.
  • Acta and Antonetti have noted that shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera was not at 100 percent when he returned from a forearm injury last season. He still had weakness in the arm and that took a toll on his offensive performance. Acta said Saturday that reports on Cabrera’s showing in winter ball were strong and the shortstop is at full strength right now.
  • The Indians plan on giving a handful of players some reps at first base this spring. Matt LaPorta is the clear-cut starter at the position, but Acta noted that Carlos Santana, Shelley Duncan, Jordan Brown, Chad Huffman and Travis Buck will all see some time at first during Spring Training.
  • Prior to Sunday’s workout, Acta plans on holding a meeting with the entire team. He did the same thing with the pitchers and catchers prior to their first official workout. The message? That Acta’s expectations are to win and he does not want the players to expect anything different, no matter what they might have read or heard about rebuilding.
  • Chatted some with Indians prospect Jason Kipnis, who said the biggest challenge remaining in his converstion to second base is getting better with footwork and turning double plays. Also learned he’s a Chicago guy like me, so I’m pulling for him to reach The Show quick so I have another Bears/Bulls fan around. (I’ll adopt the Browns as my AFC team if that will make you feel better)
  • Fun fact: Kipnis and Steve Bartman (Remember him, Cubs fans?) attended the same high school. Kipnis’ sister was actually in the same graduating class as Bartman. Not only that, Bartman didn’t live that far away from the Kipnis family. “He has to have police guard his house,” Kipnis said.

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.

More tomorrow. Stay tuned…

–JB

Say hello to Uncle Orlando

CabrerasBanner.jpgIt became pretty apparent that Orlando Cabrera passed his physical with the Indians when he was spotted hanging out with his new double-play partner, Asdrubal Cabrera, in the outfield on a practice diamond on Wednesday morning.

Sure enough, Cleveland announced that it had indeed signed the veteran infielder to a one-year Major League contract. The deal is worth $1 million plus incentives, but there is no option for the 2012 season. Ask me, and I’ll say that seems like a nice bargain.

During our sit-down with Orlando, we asked if he knew Asdrubal before today.

“The nephew?” Cabrera replied with a grin.

So a few years back, when baseball started to see an increase in the number of Cabreras in The Show — Asdrubal, Melky, Miguel, Fernando, Daniel — Orlando started referring to them as his nephews.

“And he calls me uncle,” Cabrera said of Asdrubal.

And to answer the obvious question: No, they are not actually related.

That said, Orlando Cabrera is the kid brother of Jolbert Cabrera, who suited up for the Indians in 310 games from 1998-2002. For those wondering how Jolbert is doing these days, Orlando said he is currently still playing ball for a team in Mexico.

As for OC, he’s in camp as the favorite to be the Tribe’s starting second baseman. One way or another, manager Manny Acta — who knows Orlando from their days in the Expos organization — said Cabrera is on the team (barring an injury, of course). So he’ll break camp either as a second baseman or a utlity guy (he’ll see reps at 3B, too).

Cabrera actually sounded genuinely enthusiastic about the chance to play second base. It was the position he played as a Minor Leaguer and he said making the switch to shortstop — a position where he’s won two Gold Gloves — was more difficult that going from short to second. Acta said Cabrera could play second “with his eyes closed.”

Helping matters will be the fact that he’ll play second with them open.

Where will Cabrera hit in the lineup? Acta said Cabrera has the ability to adjust to any spot in the batting order. As of right now though, the Indians do not view Cabrera as a part of the top of the lineup. So I’d pencil him into one of the Nos. 7-9 spots right now if you’re busy doing mock lineups at home.

Other notes and observations from Wednesday…

  • Pitchers and catchers all underwent physicals on Wednesday. They also met individually with Acta and GM Chris Antonetti to discuss expectations for the upcoming season. The first official workout for pitchers and catchers is Thursday.
  • Spotted in camp: Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner and newly-hired special assistant to baseball operations Eduardo Perez. I introduced myself as “Best Buy” to Hafner, because that’s where I ran into him and initially introduced myself over the winter. That’s a story for another day…
  • The Indians need to make another transaction in order to clear room on the 40-man roster for Cabrera. Once the move is approved by the league — likely in the next couple of days — it would be announced. I would think a pitcher is most likely to be removed from the roster.
  • To help account for the high volume of pitchers in camp, the Indians added catching prospect Chun Chen to their group of non-roster invitees. That will help with early bullpen sessions and also provide Chen with valuable experience, especially the chance to work with Sandy Alomar Jr. on his defense.
  • Rumored for a few days, confirmed on Tuesday and official on Wednesday: Kenny Lofton is joining the Tribe as a guest instructor this spring. He will work with outfielders and offer tips on baserunning while he’s in camp from Feb. 22-28. During the regular season, Lofton will have an expanded role as an alumni ambassador, helping with some community initiatives among other things.
  • The Indians could have a bit of a logjam in the infield at Triple-A Columbus this year. If Lonnie Chisenhall is at third and Jason Kipnis is at second, suddenly guys like Jared Goedert (3B) and Cord Phelps (2B/3B) we’ll be searching for playing time if they’re in Columbus as well. Antonetti said Goedert will see some time in the outfield this spring and he could get at-bats at 1B or DH at Triple-A, too. Phelps will see action at second and third, but Antonetti wasn’t sure yet if he’d see innings in the outfield this spring.
  • Antonetti said that no big-league starters are currently faced with any obvious innings restrictions for the coming season. The only one he said the club will “be mindful of” is Mitch Talbot. Antonetti quickly added, though, that the goal is for Talbot to pitch a full Major League season.
  • On Monday, Justine Siegal will become the first woman to throw batting practice to a Major League team when she does so for the Indians. She will also throw BP to A’s hitters on Feb. 23. Siegal is also the first woman to coach men’s professional baseball (Brockton Rox, 2009).

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Photo of the day:


LaPorta.jpg

1B Matt LaPorta. Calling his shot?

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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

Prospecting

chisenhall_all-star_250_09.jpg‘Tis the season for ranking prospects and organizations. On Tuesday night, MLB.com unveiled its Top 50 Prospects list. Among those picked as baseball’s future stars was Indians third base prospect Lonnie Chisenhall, who came in at 36th overall.

Chisenhall was the lone Cleveland representative on Minor League expert Jonathan Mayo’s Top 50 list. Had Mayo’s list included the Top 100 prospects in the game, Tribe farmhands such as second baseman Jason Kipnis, right-hander Alex White and leftyDrew Pomeranz would likely have made the cut.

Considering all the focus on the Indians’ youth and future core, and the attention that some of the club’s recent trades for packages of prospects has garnered, I asked fans over Twitter for their thoughts on having just one players named to the Top 50 list.

Here are a few of the responses I received…

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Needless to say, I was blown away by all the optimism and positive feedback! Oh, wait…

When considering MLB.com’s Top 50 list, though, @thinkkaz was one person who showed a solid understanding of where Cleveland’s system currently stands. There is good depth and many players on the cusp of reaching the big leagues, but the club lacks a pile of players that make the top-prospect-list-makers drool all over themselves.

Asking for a bunch of players to be thrown into the Top 50 is expecting a lot, too. Yes, I know the Royals had six on Mayo’s list and the Rays had four. But there were also four teams — I’m looking at you Mets, Marlins, Brewers and A’s — who had no players in the Top 50. The Indians were one of 14 teams with only one player on the list.

Rest assured, Tribe fans, the Indians’ farm system is in good shape. Sure, the jury is still out on the overall return of the CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee deals, but Cleveland’s Minor League system is widely considered one of the best in baseball. Last year’s Draft haul only added to that evaluation.

If you like going with Baseball America, then know that BA has the Indians ranked seventh in the 2011 organizational rankings (ESPN’s Keith Law disagreed, ranking them 17th). That’s the third year in a row that the Tribe has cracked BA’s Top 10 (third in 2010 and seventh in 2009). BA also rated the Indians’ 2010 First-Year Player Draft as the best in the game.

Maybe you’re not seeing the money being spent wildly on the Major League roster right now, but know that the Indians have shown a willingness to increase spending behind the scenes. The Draft provides one example. Consider that the Tribe shelled out $9.4 million in bonuses for the 2010 Draft class compared to $4.9 million the year before. For their top 10 picks in 2010, Cleveland went overslot by more than $3 million in order to sign all the selections.

So, yes, the Indians only had one player — Chisenhall, currently rated the second-best third base prospect by Mayo, and one of only two third basemen in his Top 50 — on Tuesday’s much-anticipated list. That said, the Indians could have at least three prospects (Chisenhall, Kipnis and White), probably more, impacting the Major League club in 2011.

In the end, shouldn’t that matter more right now?

–JB

Think warm thoughts

jacobs_field_snow_01.jpgCall me crazy, but I enjoy shoveling snow… which means I’ve been having a whole lot of fun over the past two days.

Maybe it’s because I missed out on all the shoveling over the last five years living in Toronto. No matter how high the piles got, life in a downtown condo did not require any outdoor maintenance on my part.

I’m also fortunate now to be living in Avon Lake, where we don’t get hammered with the real heavy stuff. I’ve had to shovel the driveway and sidewalks three times in the past 24 hours, so I can only imagine how much worse it is to the south and east of me. May God help you all as you try to bury yourself out of this latest snow storm.

Seemed to be good timing then when MLB announced the official Spring Training workout dates as the snow began to fall around Cleveland. For your Indians, the pitchers and catchers will begin workouts on Feb. 17 and the first full squad workout will be on Feb. 20. We’re almost a month away.

Today, the Tribe also unveiled the list of players who will be taking part in this year’s Winter Development Program. Those heading to Cleveland for the start of the two-week program will be outfielders Ezequiel Carrera and Chad Huffman; left-handers Nick Hagadone and Matt Packer; right-handers Corey Kluber, Chen-Chang Lee, Zach McAllister, Vinnie Pestano, Bryce Stowell and Alex White; and infielders Lonnie Chisenhall, Jason Kipnis, Jared Goedert and Cord Phelps.

The program runs from Jan. 17-22 in Cleveland and then Jan. 23-29 in Goodyear, Ariz. The WDP includes classroom sessions with various coaches, conditioning drills, fundamental work, guest speakers and on-field activities. The players will also take part in community and charitable events while in Cleveland. The program is now in its 16th year after being orginally developed by Mark Shapiro, now the team president.

Obviously, Chisenhall, Kipnis and White will garner much of the attention this year. That said, there’s a considerable cast of players taking part who could be in the mix for jobs with the Tribe come Opening Day. Kipnis could be a candidate at second base, Phelps and Goedert might make a push for third, and Pestano and Stowell are potential bullpen options. Before the 2011 season is up, you might see plenty of these guys getting stints in The Show.

Other items on indians.com this week…

1. A feature on new GM Chris Antonetti

2. Cleveland unveils plans for “Tribe on Tour”

3. The latest Indians Inbox

4. Castrovince weighs in on recent Tribe trades

5. Indians rework season ticket prices

and…

6. Kearns added to roster; Brown designated  

One last thing.

Not sure how many of my new Indians Nation followers out there are runners. My leftover Toronto followers know that one of my “off-field” hobbies is running — training for marathons, specifically. I’ve run five full marathons dating back to October 2008 (Chicago in ’08 and ’09, Disney World in ’09, and Tampa and Philly in ’10). Right now, I’m planning on running the Cleveland full in May for my sixth. I’ve also challenged myself to run every day in 2011, no excuses. So far, so good (even out in the snow). For anyone interested in following my running exploits, I have a Twitter account dedicated to my ongoing training: @26point2. If that sounds horribly boring, forget I brought it up!

Stay tuned for more…

~JB

Winter Meetings: Day 2

WMpic.jpgWelcome to Day 2 of the Winter Meetings here in the land of walking, talking mice.

After two Meetings here at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin resort, I am now a pro at navigating my way around the lobby. Not sure how this skill will help me later in life.

As an aside, a big plus to being here this week if the fact that MLBastian Jr. is really into Mickey right now. One stop in a gift shop and my Christmas shopping will be done for the little man this week. Shhh, don’t tell him!

Things are still quiet on the Tribe front. There’s the rumors of having interest in outfielder Fred Lewis (a source told me the Indians did indeed inquire about him, but so have more than half a dozen other teams), and maybe Jeff Francoeur (not seeing it happening) or Nick Punto (as a utility man).

If those seem like minor discussions, well that’s because they are, and don’t expect the Tribe to be in on any big names this week or later this winter. The biggest name they’ll be talking about is Shin-Soo Choo, and that’ll be floating the idea of an extension with agent Scott Boras.

So, it’s more of the same right now here on Day 2. Make sure you keep checking back here on the blog, reading indians.com and following along on Twitter for updates throughout the day. We’ll be meeting again with GM Chris Antonetti this afternoon.

Stay tuned…

UPDATE: 5:51 p.m. ET — One online rumor indicated that the Indians had interest in free-agent shortstop Adam Everett. Probably the same type of infield utility role that the Tribe reportedly is interested in having free-agent infielder Nick Punto fill. Without going into specifics, Antonetti said today that the club could benefit from adding an extra infielder. More on our chat with Antonetti in a bit.

UPDATE: 8:13 p.m. ET — Indians are close to signing free-agent catcher Paul Phillips, formerly of the Rockies. Deal is not done, but would be a Minor League contract with a Spring Training invite. Another rumor swirling is that Mariners have interest in trading for Indians infielder Luis Valbuena.

UPDATE: 8:38 p.m. ET — The Indians met with the representative for free-agent infielder Nick Punto on Tuesday. Cleveland also met with a handful of other free agents as well.

Notes and quotes from Day 2:

  • The Indians are out of the mix for 3B Edwin Encarnacion. His performance in the field is simply too much of a risk to put behind a cast of young rotation arms, especially when the group relies so much on grounders. EE’s bat is intriguing, but not to the point that his fielding issues can be ignored.
  • Even though CF Grady Sizemore is making positive strides in his comeback from microfracture surgery on his left knee, the Indians have to be prepared in the event he isn’t ready for Opening Day. OF Michael Brantley is the favorite to move to center/leadoff if Sizemore is not fully recovered. The Indians have also inquired about free-agent Fred Lewis, though he only seems like a fit if the Indians do not currently believe Sizemore will return in time for Opening Day.
  • The more immediate concern in the outfield is obtaining a right-handed hitter. The addition would simply be a player who could provide a day off for the regulars on days when a lefty was on the mound. Don’t expect Jeff Francouer in an Indians’ jersey, though. His price is rising with multiple teams interested.
  • Antonetti noted that Jason Donald will see time at multiple infield spots in the spring. Donald remains in the mix for the starting role at second base. The Tribe could also benefit from more stability behind shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. Punto would help in that regard, providing more depth around the infield.
  • Catcher Carlos Santana (left knee) is back in Arizona rehabbing. Antonetti said his rehab has gone well and he will likely be slightly ahead of Sizemore when Spring Training begins. That said, Sizemore remains on his initial progression and should resume running activities some time in January.
  • Asked of Jason Kipnis could be in the mix for the starting job at second base, Antonetti said you can’t rule anything out. Maybe so, but Kipnis has yet to play one inning at Triple-A. It seems more realistic that Cord Phelps makes a push for a roster job out of camp than Kipnis, who could benefit from more time on the farm.
  • I don’t expect the Indians to leave these Meetings with a new rotation member. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Tribe does not add an arm to its staff. If they do, it will probably be a late-offseason add. Manager Manny Acta and Antonetti are on the same page in terms of the belief that there is no reason to add a veteran simply to add a veteran. Leadership and mentoring are great attributes, but the Indians are more interested in quality innings. If the veteran options out there are not clear upgrades, the Tribe will likely stick with its developing in-house alternatives. 

More tomorrow…

~JB

Its gold, Jerry! Gold!

Choo_Korea2.jpgShin-Soo Choo probably would’ve found a way out of his military service one way or another. But there was one sure-fire way to earn exemption: gold.

Well, consider that done.

On Friday, South Korea rode the S.S. Choo to a gold medal at the 16th annual Asian Games being held in China. The Koreans defeated the defending champs from Taiwan 9-3 and earned military exemption in the process.

According to Korean military regulations, athletes who capture gold at the Asian Games are exempt from 30 months of military conscription. The requirement is for all able-bodied men under 30 years of age.

Choo is 28 and entering his prime and he can now do so without the threat of military hanging over him. Had South Korea fallen short, Choo might’ve stayed in the U.S., applied for citizenship, but it would’ve made going home a big issue.

Choo used his bat to swing his way out of the obligation legitimately. All he did in the five wins for the South Koreans was hit .571 (8-14) with three homers, six walks, eight runs scored and 11 RBIs. In the gold medal game, he went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a stolen base.

Now maybe the focus can shift to trying to sign Choo — a Scott Boras client — to a long-term extension. The Indians obviously have their financial limitations, but wrapping Choo up is certainly a priority for the club. With those 30 months of military service off the table, however, the Tribe can proceed with more clarity.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…

Baseball America revealed its Top 10 Indians prospects earlier this week. The list is as follows: 1. 3B Lonnie Chisenhall, 2. RHP Alex White, 3. 2B Jason Kipnis, 4. LHP Drew Pomeranz, 5. OF Nick Weglarz, 6. RHP Jason Knapp, 7. OF Levon Washington, 8. SS Tony Wolters, 9. RHP Joe Gardner, 10. LHP Nick Hagadone

GET ‘EM WHILE THEY’RE HOT…

Opening Day tickets (April 1 vs. White Sox) go on sale Monday at 2 pm ET. You can purchase them at indians.com, Indians Team Shops, 1-866-48-TRIBE and at Ticket Master Ticket Center locations. Single-game tickets for the entire 81-game home slate will go on sale at 10 am ET on Feb. 28.

–JB

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