There have been two key topics for the Indians going into Spring Training for 2011. First, who is going to be our everyday third baseman? Secondly, who is going to be the fifth starter? For every game played, these two questions seem to be the focus of the media and the fans as they try to put a pulse for how the Cleveland Indians can improve their chances at winning again. By winning, of course, it is .500 or better.
They split the teams up and played what is called in Spring Training a split-squad affair. One lineup was made for a game in Goodyear, AZ against the visiting White Sox. The other lineup was made for the game in Peoria, AZ against the Seattle Mariners. What made these matchups intriguing for me was that it was the first encounter against both Ozzie Guillen, manager for the White Sox and Eric Wedge, now manager of the Seattle Mariners.
My focus today was on the two positions listed above: third base and the starting pitcher. So was everyone else based on what I was reading on Twitter. Every media feed I was getting had attention directed toward the White Sox. I never did get a read on the Mariners game. It was almost an afterthought and not really focused on at all, at least not as much as the game with Chicago. Still I was able to catch updates on Indians.com.
For the third baseman position, what caused alarm was when Jason Donald, arguably the front runner to land the everyday third baseman job was struck on the hand in the second inning of yesterday afternoon’s game. There was a concern about whether or not it was broken and this caused many local and national sources to tweet with concern about Jason Donald’s hand being broken. Donald did not have an official at bat before leaving the game. Luckily the X-Rays came back negative and he is day to day. This being said, I almost sensed people panicking cross Twitter wondering what would the Tribe do if Mr. Donald could not play for any period of time.
First Jack Hannahan could fill the role. He went 1-3 today in the game in Seattle. He’s batting .364 and is seen as a utility player just trying to find a place on the field to play. Second is Jayson Nix. However most of his practice time has taken place at second base. Finally is the young highly touted prospect Lonnie Chisenhall. In hearing manager Manny Acta at a town hall audience, he asked fans not to read into reports about Chisenhall , one of the top prospects for the Indians, automatically be given the third baseman title. I think they want him to get a solid year in AAA and perhaps be one of the September call-ups later in the season. With these people having their role be defined, I now see why there is so much concern about Jason Donald. Hopefully, he will be okay.
The pitching lines made it more clear who had a leg up for the starting rotation. Against Chicago, David Huff, who was trying to put a 2-11 record behind him in 2010 pitched 3 innings of shutout ball, only giving up 2 hits and having two strikeouts and surrendering no walks. On the other hand, against Seattle, Jeanmar Gomez, another candidate for the starting rotation pitched 2 1/3 innings giving up 4 runs, all earned and 4 hits with 1 walk and no strikeouts. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that Huff has helped his cause for being in the starting rotation out of the gate in 2011.
This afternoon’s action will be in Scottsdale at the brand new complex, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, shared by the Diamondbacks and our opponent for today, the Colorado Rockies. I will be interested to hear and/or read reaction to this complex which I have heard much about. I also hope more answers are made clearer concerning the team going forward at third base or the pitching mound. Good luck Tribe and get well, Jason.
I saw my first Spring Training game here, my first baseball game ever, Phoenix AZ. It was also the place I saw my first basketball game. So for me, hearing about the Cleveland Indians and the Oakland Athletics playing here today brings back memories then and now. This year it will bring back memories of the first person I introduced my kids to.
I have always tried to teach my kids to love the game of baseball too like I was taught to love it. The person I said for them to memorize was Coco Crisp. I was thinking “Cocoa Krispies”, “hot chocolate”, this will get my kids to like the game. I think highly of Coco Crisp, more than other Indians, Red Sox, Royals or A’s fans ever did or will. For me, Coco is a person to look up to, a role model. I told my kids, see that Coco run, see that Coco hit, see that Coco hit. Now you cheer for him, he is great. It was not Dick and Jane but it got the pint across. Coco=love of baseball to my 3 and 2 year old then. For me, he was the Indians youth movement then. The interesting thing was when I asked my kids who their favorite players were, Coco Crisp was not their answer, as I tried to spoon feed them this answer. They said “Casey Blake” “Travis Hafner” So much for Coco. Still they love the sport today and it is wonderful to see. Thanks Coco for the inspiration.
Yesterday the Indians were inspired to leave their Goodyear Indian fans with a 2-1 win against the Dodgers. I received updates on MLB.com on breaks at work as they were playing as I was working. Here is what I took away from the box score.
The pitching is doing well. When one sees two hits spread among 5 pitchers this is awesome. Yes I know it does not spell anything in Spring Training except this: consistency in the staff, attacking the strike zone 9 total strikeouts among the staff. Pitches to strikes was an interesting stat. For example, Huff who had 3 strikouts in his two innings of work did not throw 1 ball. The stats showed the Dodgers had 8 walks and the Indians gave up 1 walk. That to me tells more than the score about what the Indians are trying to do in these games:attack the strike zone. Isnt this what Acta preached at the beginning? Keep it up Tribe!
Its the first day of Spring! Hooray! What does this mean? It depends on who you ask?
For some, it means Spring Cleaning!
For others, its means continued soul searching
For some its time to think about getting the lawn back in shape
Some desire to get thin after the long Winter slumber!
Whatever the reason or motivation, the change from Winter to Spring is great, yet challenging. For the Indians organization, this was no exception. As was reported from various Indians media sources, quite a lot of things happened in the last few days.
First, Adam Miller, one of the Indians top prospects was reported to have to have career threatening surgery unless he can learn to change the way he throws and gain enough command to maintain the ability to compete as a pitcher.
Next, the great trim happened for 15 players on the Spring Training Roster.
Along with Adam Miller, RHPs John Meloan and Juan Salas, LHP Tony Sipp and 2B Luis Valbuena were optioned to Triple-A Columbus.
RHP Hector Rondon and C Carlos Santana were optioned to Double-A Akron.
RHP Jack Cassel, LHP David Huff, C Armando Camacaro, 1B Jordan Brown, 3B Wes Hodges, INF Jesus Merchan, 1B Beau Mills and OF Stephen Head were reassigned to Minor League camp.
Just when I thought the routine was over, the news broke that Fausto Carmona now was bruised in the forearm in an intrasquad game and is now day to day. Quick, someone get these guys healthy for April 6th. I want to think we have a team left not looking like this before the season starts.
Luckily Aaron Laffey came out healthy again. His stats against the Brewers at Maryvale Stadium were 4 innings pitched, 3 runs all earned, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts and no homeruns. There was nothing that told me the fifth starter wasn’t his to have, still.
Today, Carl Pavano is scheduled to faceoff against the A’s in Goodyear. My goals are to stay in good health and just hang on until April 6th. I just hope all the players and coaches can just hang on, stay healthy out of camp and continue healthy throughout the upcoming 2009 season.
After all, in Ohio, its all about hanging on…
By the way, good luck to Ohio State and Cleveland State today. Hopefully both can hang on today also in the 64 team NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament. We shall see.