Results tagged ‘ Spartans ’

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

Happy New Year!

814_snowdays_fireworks.jpgIt was a quiet New Years celebration at the MLBastian household this year.

After hopping around various relatives’ homes for fun-filled Christmas gatherings, the missus and I wanted to ring in the New Year away from any chaos. Of course, the decision to stay home was made easier by the fact that we have both been fighting off colds.

Must be all those Christmas cookies we ate.

For us, 2011 is shaping up to be a pretty good year already. After living in Toronto for the past five years, we found our way back to the Midwest, to a house and town that just feels like home. With a young son now, the time has come to start introducing family traditions and that made these holidays a lot of fun.

On New Years Eve, I had MLBastian Jr. — 16 months old now — head out on our front porch to bang on a pot with a wooden spoon. He loved it and banging on pots and pans will be our New Years tradition from here on out. It’s what my family did when I was a kid. Our neighbors here will have to forgive us for doing so at 8 pm. Hayden had to get to bed.

As for the wife and I, we watched movies and tuned in to watch the ball drop in New York at midnight. We then walked outside to listen to celebrations around our neighborhood. Sure enough, we could here fireworks, noise makers and plenty of people yelling. We also heard some ticked off dogs barking away.

My point is this, we’re thrilled to be here in the Cleveland area now and looking forward to what the future will bring for us here.

And for all of you who have sent me notes via Twitter asking what the heck happened with my Spartans against Alabama… that was brutal. But, more to the point, what an awful New Years Day for the Big 10! I’ll be pulling for Ohio State so the conference can salvage the abysmal showing so far.

You won’t find that I get too worked up over bowl games, though. I personally don’t see the point of bowl games unless your school is in the national title game. Bring on some playoffs and maybe I’ll be interested. I haven’t watched a bowl game in years. Now, when there’s a Big 10 title game? That’s something I’ll care about.

MSU won a share of the Big 10 title this year. That’s good enough for me.

But, I digress…

You’re here for Indians content, but there isn’t much going on as of this moment. Cleveland has spent all of $1.3 million this winter on one Major League contract, preferring to use Minor League deals to bring in some competition for Spring Training. It’s a very young roster with a lot of growing to do, so the time to spend big is not now.

If the Tribe makes any more moves before spring, it might be to add another infielder or to bring in a starting pitcher. Cleveland might decide to head into spring with the infield options it has — third base and second base being the biggest question marks. On the mound, the Indians continue to be linked to veteran Bartolo Colon as a low risk, affordable option.

What would you like to see done with the roster before Opening Day? 

–JB

Im going back down south now

Map.jpgThe title of this post — my first as MLB.com’s beat reporter for the Indians — is a kind of tribute to the scribe I’m replacing here in Cleveland. I love Anthony Castrovince’s creative use of song lyrics on his Castroturf blog and look forward to seeing him continue that style in his new columnist role for MLB.com.

Castrovince is a great reporter and a strong writer and I know — as many Tribe fans have already informed me via e-mail and Twitter — I indeed have some sizeable shoes to fill. For all you “Castronauts” out there, you can at least take comfort in knowing that Anthony is sticking around in Cleveland and his voice won’t be too far away.

Now, however, is the time of the “Bastianauts!”

Too soon?

Many of you might recognize my byline from MLB.com or from Twitter. Since 2005, I have covered the Toronto Blue Jays for our website. It was a great experience working north of the border, but the time has come for my family to get closer to home. I’m not a Cleveland native, but I am a Midwest boy at heart and Ohio just feels right.

I was born in California, but moved before memories of palm trees and beaches could be planted in my brain. Home is originally in the south suburbs of Chicago and my wife and I still have a large portion of family in that area — both on the north and south sides. I graduated from Michigan State University in ’05 and jumped at the chance to follow my dream of writing about baseball when the opportunity came up to cover the Blue Jays.

With a wife, and now a 1-year-old son, I had been looking for a chance to return to the Midwest. When I learned that Anthony was transitioning into a new role with MLB.com, I immediately wanted the chance to assume the Indians beat. Having lived here since the end of this past season, I can already tell that taking my talents to Ohio was a great decision.

You will have to get used to a few changes now that Anthony is no longer on the beat, though.

First of all, there will not be as many Bruce Springsteen references (Sorry, bro). With me, you’ll have to get used to the fact that Pearl Jam is the Greatest Band of All-time. You’re also going to have to put up with me talking about my Spartans from time to time. Go Green! Hey, at least it’s not maize and blue. (We share a mutual hatred in that regard). I’ve already had a few of my new neighbors roll their eyes upon seeing my giant MSU flag hanging in my garage. I’m sure they’ll try to turn my son into an Ohio State fan as he grows up here.

You’ll find that I’m very active on Twitter. You can find me under @MLBastian and follow along. I’ve already received a wave of kind words welcoming me to the Tribe beat and I appreciate it very much. It was great to hear from so many Indians fans right after it was made known that I was taking this job.

And, despite what some people might say, I think this is a great time to be a fan of the Indians. Maybe the wins and losses aren’t there at the moment, and the playoffs might seem far away, but the team is young (youngest in the Majors at the end of the season) and in a position to grow as a group in the next few seasons.

I was in the pressbox in Cleveland in 2007 when the Tribe sat only a few outs away from a World Series berth, so I’ve witnessed first-hand the frustration the city feels. It wants a winner and it’s been a long time. I grew up living and dying with the Cubs, so I know the feeling. It’s tough to say “be patient” when so much time has already flown by.

As a reporter, I think this is a good situation in which to begin my career in Cleveland. With a young cast of players, a relatively new Tribe manager in Manny Acta and a first-year GM in Chris Antonetti, this club is in a transition period and looking to build on the successess it experienced down the stretch in 2010.

Tossing a new Indians reporter into the mix can’t hurt, and I’m definitely happy to be here.

Now, let’s get this thing started…

~JB

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