Results tagged ‘ Paul Phillips ’

We need to talk…

Brantley2.jpgEvery hitter is different. Some like talking to their hitting coach during a game. Some like to be left alone, leaving chats about approach and mechanics for sessions in the batting cage.

It is the job of every hitting coach to sort out which players prefer one method over another. Veteran hitters can often be different than young hitters for obvious reasons.

When it comes to Indians outfielder Michael Brantley, talking shop is usually initiated by him. Hitting coach Jon Nunnally said that Brantley is the type of hitter that not only is open to talking things over during games, the young outfielder will be the one to bring certain things up.

“Sometimes they’ll come ask,” Nunnally said. “He’s one of those guys. If he doesn’t feel it, he’ll come and say, ‘Do you see this?’ Or he’ll say, ‘Keep an eye on this and, if I’m not doing it, let me know. “That’s what I want. I don’t want to have to, every time something goes wrong, I have to say, ‘Look at this.’”

Obviously, there is a time for that type of approach. But during games, the last thing Nunnally wants his players doing is heading up to the plate worrying about specific mechanical or approach issues. That’s when hitters start thinking too much and getting away from their plan.

Nunnally likes to have hitters who can feel for themself when something is not right.

“You kind of want the guy to know himself a little bit,” Nunnally said.

Last year, Brantley struggled with getting started on time, causing a chain reaction that made it difficult for him to recognize pitches. Indians manager Manny Acta noted that one problem that came out of that was Brantley had struggles attacking pitches on the outer half of the plate. Nunnally said Brantley became predictable for Major League fielders, who would shade him in and toward the left-field line.

“It was very hard for me to see the baseball,” Brantley said, “and then react, notice what pitch was coming, was it inside or outside, or was it up or down. I really pride myself on my strike zone discipline and I really couldnt do it. I was making bad choices.”

It is obviously early in Spring Training, but Nunnally said he has not seen similar issues in his early sessions with Brantley. He said the outfielder’s mechanics are sound right now. The only thing Nunnally said he is working on right now with Brantley is making sure he stays on top of the ball when taking pitches to the opposite field.

“He’s making it really easy for me,” Nunnally said with a smile.

Notes from Tuesday…

  • Center fielder Grady Sizemore took part in live batting practice on Tuesday, marking the first time he has faced live pitching since undergoing microfracture surgery on his left knee in June. Sizemore also did some sprint and agility work during the day’s workout. “He was fine,” reported Acta.
  • Acta said the backup catching job is not likely to be decided until the final days of Spring Training. Right now, Lou Marson, Luke Carlin, Paul Phillips and Juan Apodaca are in the mix. Marson is the only one among that group on the roster, but the Tribe is currently weighing whether he might benefit from more seasoning in the Minors.
  • With five pitchers vying for the fifth spot in the rotation, the Indians will have a tough time getting them enough innings as spring progresses. One way to help is having an extra game or two. Right now, Cleveland has one “B” game on the schedule. They’ll face the Reds at 9:30 a.m. MT on March 8 at the Indians’ complex.
  • Acta said the Indians will need to make some decisions about the rotation after the first week or two of games in order to help give innings to the players with the most realistic shot of heading north. So in mid-March, expect the Tribe to narrow the list of candidates for that fifth rotation job.
  • As has been well-documented, Josh Tomlin, Jeanmar Gomez, David Huff, Aaron Laffey and Anthony Reyes are the pitchers in the running for the fifth starting job. Acta called Reyes “a sleeper” and noted that the righty was hitting between 90-96 mph with his fastball and showing a strong breaking ball during instructional league in October. Reyes is coming back from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.
  • A report surfaced on Tuesday indicating that Indians 2B Orlando Cabrera planned on retiring after this season. When approached about it, Cabrera laughed, shook his head and said,” That’s crazy. He said he had a long radio interview with a station in his home country of Colombia and a newspaper, “El Universal,” must have misunderstood his comments. All Cabrera meant to say was that he wants to leave the game on his own terms. Right now, though, he hopes to play for a few more years. Cabrera said the move to second base might even extend her career by a year or two. So hold off on the retirement party for now.
  • Former Indians outfielder Kenny Lofton was not in uniform with the club on Tuesday — he’s returning as a guest instructor, not as a player — but he should be with the team on Wednesday. Lofton will spend the week working with outfielders and offering tips on baserunning techniques.
  • There was some confusion about the order of the upcoming intrasquad games. To straighten it out, Thursday will be about four innings and Friday will last around seven innings. Thursday’s game is scheduled to be held at Goodyear Ballpark with Friday’s game slated to take place at the Indians complex.

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Photo of the day:

Pronk2.jpg

Due to so many requests for this… Travis Hafner (with hair)

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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

 

Winter Meetings: Exit

WMempty.jpgOnly a few hours earlier, the chairs in this photo were filled with reporters and baseball types, all on hand for this morning’s Rule 5 Draft here at the Swan and Dolphin.

You can still here the typing of the remaining media corps here in the workroom, but the numbers are dwindling as we all tidy up our stories, grab our luggage and bolt for the airport.

The Indians made a quick exit after standing pat during the Rule 5 Draft. The club opted against disrupting its 40-man roster in order to make a selection. The available options were not deemed significant upgrades over the group of players that is already in the fold.

On the other side of it, though, Cleveland lost a pair of players — infielder Josh Rodriguez and pitcher Jose Flores — in the Rule 5. Rodriguez went first overall to the Pirates, who will give him a shot as a utility man, and Flores went second to the Mariners, who plucked him up from low-A ball for a chance at a bullpen job.

The selections cost $50,000 each and the players are required to stay on their respective team’s active roster throughout the season. If they are removed from the roster, they must be offered back to the Tribe for a discounted price of $25,000. Cleveland would “absolutely” accept both players back, said vice president of player development Ross Atkins.

As expected, the Indians were quiet here this week in the Land of Mickey. The only deal that came to fruition was the signing of catcher Paul Phillips to a Minor League deal with a spring invite. He’ll compete for the backup job. Beyond that, these Meetings simply provided a forum for face-to-face dialogue with agents and other clubs.

Before I dart off to catch my flight back to Cleveland, I will leave you with the links to the stories I wrote this week in Walt Disney World. And you can rest easy, I was able to buy some Mickey-themed Christmas presents for MLBastian Jr.

Also, as of this afternoon, there was no further update on 92-year-old Hall of Famer Bob Feller, who was tranferred to hospice care on Wednesday. As soon as I hear anything else, I will let everyone know. So stay tuned on that front and keep Mr. Feller and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

Over in his blog, Anthony Castrovince has a nice entry about Feller.

To the links…

–JB

Winter Meetings: Day 3

IMG_20101208_105621.jpgGreetings again from lovely Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Day III of these Winter Meetings are here…

…and the Indians are still quiet.

For those of you thinking I’m out working on my tan and soaking up the Florida sun, you can rest assure that is not the case. Life at the Meetings is a constant mix of lobby circling and workroom working.

And it’s cold here. OK, “cold” is a bit much. It’s chilly. There’s no snow, so I’m not going to start complaining about the weather in Florida. Well, I won’t complain much anyway.

As for your Tribe, they continue to explore trades and entertain the idea of signing a handful of inexpensive free agents. It’s about building depth right now, finding a way to guard against injuries and also putting the team in a good position to keep young players on their development plans.

That is where a player like Nick Punto fits into the equation. The Indians have unanswered questions at third base, second base and in the backup role at short. Punto can assist at all three positions, taking some heat off the youngsters and allowing Cleveland to avoid rushing players into prominent roles before they’re deemed ready for such a task.

The Indians met with the agent for Punto on Tuesday and might meet again before the Meetings conclude. There appears to be mutual interest, but I’m not expecting a signing to come to fruition before we hop on our planes and fly back to C-town. Then again, one never knows. Things have a way of coming together fast sometimes.

One meeting on tap today for the Tribe involves preparation for Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft. The Indians’ 40-man roster is currently at capacity, so Cleveland will meet this afternoon to determine whether it makes sense to vacate a spot in order to try to select someone in the Draft. A couple of third basemen eligible for selection are Brad Emaus (Toronto) and Taylor Green (Milwaukee).

Make sure you keep checking back here on the blog, reading indians.com and following along on Twitter for updates throughout the day. We’re scheduled to have lunch with manager Manny Acta this afternoon and we’ll meet with GM Chris Antonetti a bit later.

Stay tuned for more…

UPDATE: 2:11 p.m. ET — Following lunch with Acta and Indians pitching coach Tim Belcher, among others (including members of the Reds media corps and manager Dusty Baker), chatted with uberagent Scott Boras. Boras said that he has not met with Antonetti yet about a possible contract extension for Tribe outfielder Shin-Soo Choo. Boras added that he does not anticipate meeting with the Indians GM about the matter at the Winter Meetings.

UPDATE: 2:29 p.m. ET — Indians make C Paul Phillips signing official. Minor League contract with an invite to attend Spring Training with the big league club.

UPDATE: 3:27 p.m. ET — CHOO EXTENSION TALKS

Scott Boras, the agent for Shin-Soo Choo, said on Wednesday that he has not met with Indians general manager Chris Antonetti about a contract extension for the star outfielder. Boras added that he did not expect to discuss the matter at the Winter Meetings.

“I don’t think I’ll be doing a lot of discussing on those fronts right now,” Boras said.

Thumbnail image for Boras.jpgAntonetti said earlier this week that such talks would likely come “naturally” due to the fact that he would need to negotiate an arbitration deal with Choo later this winter. Boras did not necessarily see it the same way.

“Most arbitration discussions don’t end in multi-year contracts, that’s for sure,” Boras said. “But, again, I’ve not had that discussion with Chris yet.”

Boras noted that a long-term deal with Cleveland could be more difficult than with other teams. The Indians finished last in the league in attendance in 2010, is scaling back its payroll and plans on fielding a young roster this coming season.

“That’s going to be Shin-Soo’s decision about what he may want to do or not do,” Boras said. “I do think it’s tougher, it’s always tougher, in situations where you’re a club that’s a developmental team, to know where the club’s going to be two or three years from now. So, those situations are always a little more difficult.

“But, again, we listen to every team and pass it on to the player and see what he says.”

UPDATE: 3:58 p.m. ET — Two items. 1) Mariners are reportedly interested in Indians second baseman Luis Valbuena. As of Wednesday afternoon, the Tribe had not discussed him with Seattle. 2) Among other things Boras talked about, he said the A’s still have interest in free-agent 3B Adrian Beltre. If that’s true, it is possible that the Indians would approach Oakland about potentially trading for 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff.

UPDATE: 6:51 p.m. ET — In a sit-down with Antonetti, the Indians GM said he is hopeful that he will be able to chat with Boras about Choo’s contract situation “shortly after the Winter Meeetings.” Antonetti noted that Choo has expressed optimism about the club’s future in conversations they’ve had. The GM has every intention of talking about an extension.

ETCETERA: The Indians are still in the process of determining whether they want to clear a spot on the 40-man roster in order to make a selection in the Rule 5 Draft. Cleveland’s roster is  at capacity and the club has the seventh pick (technically eighth due to a compensation pick earlier in the Draft for Arizona). Antonetti said there are some “intriguing” pitchers available, and the Tribe is probably also considering some of the third base/infield options out there. … Talked some with pitching coach Tim Belcher today about the rotation. He had high praise for Carlos Carrasco, who is the front-runner for the fourth spot on the staff. The fifth is likely down to Jeanmar Gomez, Josh Tomlin and David Huff. Belcher is hopeful that Huff will be able to bounce back from his 2-11 showing last year. Cleveland’s rotation could certainly benefit from having a lefty in the mix for a job. Belcher also said, in a perfect world, he believes the rotation could benefit from having a more experienced arm added to the mix this winter. … There was a rumor floating out there that the Indians had some interest in bringing Bartolo Colon back. I wouldn’t put too much stock into that one.

More tomorrow…

~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

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