Results tagged ‘ Josh Judy ’
The unofficial start of Spring Training for me has always been the drive over the Courtney Campbell Causeway that runs over Tampa Bay. Water to my left and to my right. Palm trees all around. Baseball straight ahead.
I guess I’ve got to start establishing some new traditions now that I’m covering the Indians out here in the Arizona desert. The drive west on I-10 didn’t have the same feel as the causeway, but I certainly didn’t mind gazing out at all the mountains surrounding Phoenix.
I landed Saturday afternoon — a barking dog in my row on the plane made the trip feel much longer than it was — and reached my spring headquarters by about 3 p.m. local time. Of course, “reached” doesn’t mean I “got inside” my home for the next six weeks. Turns out, the rental company had a slight oversight. No keys were left for me.
Eventually I got into Casa de Bastian and everything is great. I got a decent enough rental car, my apartment is nice and the weather is gorgeous (I know, you didn’t need to hear that last part). This morning, I headed over to the Indians’ player development complex to check out the club’s digs. Man, what a great facility.
No offense, Dunedin. I loved being near the beach and you’re little Main Street was great. The ballpark had its good qualities, too. But, man, the complex the Indians have here in Goodyear is fantastic. Everything looks brandnew and having the Estrella Mountains as a backdrop is going to be a pleasure. I’m going to do some trail running up there, too.
But I digress…
It was quiet at camp this morning, which was expected. It’s Sunday and the last Sunday before Spring Training officially opens at that. Jason Donald dropped by for a bit, but there wasn’t a whole heckuva lot of activity going on today. Except inside the manager’s office, that is. Manny Acta was on hand, working hard.
Inside his office, there is a large whiteboard to the left with all the names listed of players in camp with the team. On the wall behind his desk hangs a picture of former Expos manager Felipe Alou. Along that wall is a minifridge. On top? A hat from a Dominican winter league team and a Cleveland Browns cap.
“Nice touch,” I said.
“Hey, I’m a Browns fan,” Acta said with a grin.
Chatted for a while with Acta about a wide variety of topics, but eventually we discussed this spring and the current roster. Acta has been in camp for about a week and he’s been pleasantly surprised with the high volume of players already on hand. Acta said morning stretch has looked like a normal spring workout due to so many players being here already.
On Saturday, center fielder Grady Sizemore (left knee) hit on the field for the first time since his injury and Acta said he looked great: “Like a kid with a new toy.” Acta added that Sizemore is not likely to be a full participant in outfield drills when full-squad workouts begin next weekend. Obviously, Sizemore will need to pass certain running and agility tests before being cleared for full outfield activity.
Acta raved about what he’s seen in bullpen sessions from Carlos Carrasco. The manager also had great things to say about what he’s seen from pitching prospect Alex White. Acta said he is also excited to see some of the young relief prospects — Vinnie Pestano, Josh Judy, Bryce Stowell and Zach Putnam, in particular — push for bullpen jobs.
In the infield, assuming Orlando Cabrera’s physical is fine and he does indeed sign with the Indians (the signing has not been officially confirmed by the club), he will be the front-runner in the competition at second base. The way I see it, Donald is the front-runner at third. If he can show he has the glove and arm to handle the hot corner, I believe it’s his job to lose. Acta noted again on Sunday how important strong defense will be at third base.
Asked if he had a favorite to win the third-base job, Acta chuckled and shook his head.
“No, no,” Acta said. “I don’t have a favorite.”
The only people I saw on the practice diamonds today were the groundskeepers, watering the grass and tending to the infield. There are sure to be players out there tomorrow and I’ll keep you up-to-date on all the goings on at camp. Be sure to be following me on Twitter (@MLBastian) and I will keep you posted in the coming days where I’ll be posting photos.
Teams have been busy leading up to this year’s annual offseason gathering, with Adam Dunn signing with the White Sox, Jayson Werth inking a seven-year pact with the Nationals, the Blue Jays trading away Shaun Marcum and the Red Sox pulling off a swap with San Diego to reel in Adrian Gonzalez.
As for your Indians? Well, don’t expect any huge, headline-hogging news this week in Lake Buena Vista. Tribe GM Chris Antonetti will surely be kicking the tires on some third base options, as well as looking into finding a starting pitcher, a backup catcher and a right-handed-hitting outfielder. Antonetti might also be hunting down uberagent Scott Boras for a chat about an extension for Shin-Soo Choo.
Us Cleveland scribes will meet with Antonetti this afternoon and Indians manager Manny Acta is scheduled to hold his sit-down today at 4 p.m. ET. While the Indians might not be the most active team at these Winter Meetings, I’ll do my best to keep up up to date on all that’s going on with the club.
Stay tuned for more…
UPDATE — 3:51 p.m. ET: One rumor making the rounds is that the Indians have some level of interest in free-agent outfielder Jeff Francoeur. The Royals, Phillies and Rockies have also been tabbed as suitors for the outfielder. The Tribe is in the market for a right-handed-hitting outfielder to help break-up the all-lefty combo of Michael Brantley, Grady Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo.
UPDATE — 5:49 p.m. ET: The Indians, along with more than half a dozen teams, have reportedly inquired about outfielder Fred Lewis. On the surface, this doesn’t seem to be a fit. The Tribe already has three lefty outfielders and Lewis became increasingly unhappy as his playing time decreased down the stretch last season with the Blue Jays.
Notes & quotes from Day 1:
- Antonetti would not spill the beans when asked if he has met or plans to meet with Boras this week to continue talks about an extension for Choo. He did say that they will have to talk because Choo is eligible for arbitration, so talks of an extension will “naturally” be a part of the process. The GM noted that he is reluctant to discuss long-term deals once the regular season has started.
- In discussing the situation at third base, Acta said that Jason Donald, Jayson Nix and Cord Phelps could all be in the mix for the job, barring an offseason addition. “There is a chance of everything in the world,” Acta said. “There is a chance. We’re very deep and our depth is great up the middle.”
- Antonetti and Acta both emphasized the importance of having a strong defender at third base, especially due to having a young all-righty rotation that is so reliant on ground balls. That would seemingly rule out Encarnacion. But, Antonetti left the door open by saying, “If there’s an exceptional offensive player available at that position that may not be as strong defensively, we’ll be open-minded to that as well.” So, yeah…
- Antonetti is not one to dive into specifics, but I asked him if there were any surprise decisions at the non-tender deadline. Maybe the Tribe had its eyes on someone who they thought would become a free-agent. Antonetti replied, “Up to that point you have dialogue with teams to get some sense. There may have been a couple of surprises on either side, here or there, but for the most part a lot of the guys we expected to be non-tendered were non-tendered.” More to the point, the Indians probably would’ve preferred the A’s non-tender Kevin Kouzmanoff — not Encarnacion.
- If the Indians are going to find rotation help through free agency, a signing is not likely to happen this week at the Meetings. The Tribe needs more time to see how the market develops. “We’re not in a position to preempt the market,” said the GM. Obviously, if the Tribe is looking at trades, it could come sooner rather than later. It’s been pretty quiet on that front.
- Antonetti offered some unsolicited praise for former GM Pat Gillick, who was voted into baseball’s Hall of Fame on Monday. Said the Indians GM: “I’m elated at the fact that Gillick got elected to the Hall of Fame. That is great. There’s not a classier, more respected person in all of baseball than Pat. He’s so deserving of that.”
- Acta noted that center fielder Grady Sizemore (left knee) passed a checkup on Sunday and remains on target for Opening Day. So far, the same can be said for catcher Carlos Santana, who is also making his way back from a left knee operation.
- While you can never have enough pitching, Acta likes the way his bullpen is set up for the time being. As things currently stand, it’s closer Chris Perez, with Rafael Perez, Tony Sipp, Jensen Lewis and Joe Smith under contract. Then, there will be a bevy of arms in the mix for the other jobs. Names that quickly rolled off Acta’s tongue were Josh Judy, Zach Putnam, Bryce Stowell and Vinnie Pestano.
- Asked about Luis Valbueno’s play in winter ball in Venezuela (.271 average, .341 on-base in 48 games), Acta had this to say: “The main thing is Luis’ playing. He needs to get
his confidence back. Hopefully before the year’s over, he gets up there in the .270s, .280s, .300s, and comes to camp re-energized.”
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?
Yikes, that blog title isn’t clever at all. As a Seinfeld fan, I’d love to use “Excruciating minutiae” but I can’t step on Castroturf’s, um, well, turf. So I’m opening it up to the floor for suggestions. What should I call these posts when I dive headfirst into a bunch of Tribe-related topics covered today? Let’s here what you’ve got. Otherwise, I’ll have to let my utilitze my corny sense of humor.
- First off, before I delve into anything else, my 14-month old son learned how to say “baseball” today. Well, OK, it sounds more like “bah-bawl”, but we’ve got to start somewhere. I just finished piecing together my new office in my new Ohio home and on the walls are framed black and white photos I’ve taken over the years. There is one that he really likes, a photo I took in Spring Training of a home run ball hanging in the netting of a fence (above). He points at it and starts saying “Bah-bawl!” I’m one proud papa.
- Us Tribe scribes spoke with GM Chris Antonetti tonight about Shin-Soo Choo’s path to gold (and military exemption), among other topics. The Indians have yet to hear from the Korean Baseball Office concerning the status of Choo’s military requirement, but have no fear, the Indians fully expect the outfielder to be exempted from the 30-month obligation. Antonetti said he hopes to know officially in the next 12-24 hours.
- As for Choo’s performance (.571, 3 HR, 11 RBIs in 5 games), Antonetti was more than impressed. “It’s hard to imagine a more presure-filled environment than playing under the circumstances Choo was playing in,” Antonetti said. “It’s certainly a great accomplishment for him and Team Korea to win the gold medal at a very competitive tournament and to perform exceptionally well in helping lead Team Korea to the gold.”
- Now, about that contract extension. Well, predictably, Antonetti did not go into much detail about any possible ongoing talks with agent Scott Boras about a long-term deal with Choo. Antonetti was quick to remind that Choo (arbitration eligible this winter) is controllable for the next three years. That said, the GM said he plans on continuing dialogue with Boras at some point this winter.
- Friday marked the final day for clubs to add players to their 40-man roster in preparation for the upcoming Rule 5 Draft. The Indians had five vacant spots and they used every last one of them. Added to the roster were infielder Jared Goedert, left-hander Nick Hagadone, right-hander Josh Judy, righty Corey Kluber and righty Zach McAllister.
- One notable player left unprotected is right-hander Adam Miller. The former first-round pick has logged an inning in the past two years and is coming back from multiple finger operations. Miller is trying to make a comeback as a reliever and Antonetti said the pitcher hit around 90-91 in a game appearance in Instructional League. In that outing, Miller threw both fastballs and sliders. Until we get to spring, and the Indians can closely monitor Miller’s progress, his status for 2011 remains an unknown.
- Others of note who are eligible for the Rule 5 from Cleveland’s system? Minor Leaguer Josh Rodriguez, who has the ability to man multiple infield and outfield positions. Other notables include Beau Mills, Matt McBride, Jerad Head, Carlton Smith and Juan Diaz. I have my doubts about any of the players listed being taken in the Draft by another club.
- Antonetti said he has some productive talks at the GM Meetings earlier this week with rival GMs, “laying the groundwork” to see if there might be potential fits for trades. Given Cleveland’s financial situation, trades seem like a more likely route for making additions. That, or some late-offseason signings that won’t break the bank. Third base and starting pitching remain the top two priorities.
- As for that possible addition to the rotation, Antonetti said reliability is the main trait the Tribe is seeking. Said the GM: “We have depth. We have options. There are any number of guys, we can probably go eight or nine or 10 deep, that could pitch at the Major League level for us next year. I think the one thing we lack in our rotation is some reliability. It’s a very young rotation. I think our oldest starter next year is 27 and we have two guys in Carmona and Masterson who have thrown over 180 innings in a season. So while it’s a very talented group, there’s not a lot of certainty with it and I think that’s one of the things we would look to potentially address this offseason if we could.”
- Beyond that and potentially bringing in a new third baseman? Antonetti said adding another catcher and a right-handed-hitting outfielder are other areas possibly in need of addressing. Said the GM: “There are a couple of other areas where we could add depth. Obviously, we have two very good catchers in Carlos Santana and Lou Marson, but we could look certainly complement that area as well. And, an extra outfielder, preferably a right-handed bat.”
With that, I’m signing off and will be heading to Philly in the morning. I’m taking part in the Philadelphia Marathon on Sunday. It’ll be my fifth full marathon (Chicago 2008-09, Disney ’09 and Tampa ’10). The move to Ohio fell right in the thick of my training, so the program became a bit sporadic for a while. Not sure I’ll beat the 3:43 I put up in Tampa in February, but I’ll make it over that finish line one way or another.