We are now 2 weeks until Spring begins. We are now 26 days until the Cleveland Indians play ball. Michael Brantley has been kept out the lineup for 4 days now including today because of what is reported to be “leg soreness” according to local reports. Yet if Opening Day were today, he said he could go and play. Jason Donald, who injured his hand over the weekend after being hit by Gavin Floyd on Saturday did not take batting practice and remains day to day. I really think the Indians want to make sure these two men are coming north April 1st when games for Opening Day at Progressive Field against the White Sox.
However, one young man I would like to see play is Lonnie Chisenhall. I attended the Indians Town Hall meeting in February and another fan asked Manny Acta about this. Manny wants to see him play at AAA a while before handing him the everyday third base duties. MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweeted this in one of his updates. I speculate this to be the case because of what happened to former Indian and current Reds 2nd baseman, Brandon Phillips. In rushing him, I can remember seeing Phillips go back and forth between Cleveland, Ohio and then AAA Buffalo. This helped lead to his release because of his inconsistency.He went to the Reds and well, we know how successful he has been for them. I believe the Indians want to be certain Chisenhall plays at AAA for awhile before bringing him up to the Major League club.
I argue that he is ready. Chisenhall is showing me consistency where other players just are not producing. I think Lonnie Chisehall can be a viable conteded on this club from day 1. His performance is awe-inspiring. Chisenhall in 7 games is 7-15 2 doubles, 2 homers 4 RBI with a .556 batting avg. I think he has heart and wants to be that great third baseman that has eluded Cleveland since Casey Blake was traded.
To the Indians front office’s credit, this is Spring Training and I think if Chisenhall were to come up to the major league team at this time, he probably would be a bench player. Acta wants Lonnie to receive everyday at bats and not be bench bound or be forced to fill a role when Jason Donald or Jayson Nix who were with the club last year are scheduled to be ready to go.
I think however, in a town where potential high prospects are needed to help hype up and makethis team better faster, the pressure comes from us fans for them to be “saviors” and push the team for more success. For those who want “@theChizKid” up here in Cleveland like myself, I guess the best thing to do is be patient and try to travel down to Columbus which is only 2 hours away. If he is successful there, it will be sooner, not later that Progressive Field will be home to the top prospect. Meanwhile as with all the “kids” we will just have to trust that the front office knows what they are doing with Lonnie.
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.
Many times in Spring training I am bringing plenty of extra sheets. Cross out, erase, change numbers, change names. Who’s that? What’s his name? Something like Albert and Costello.
So when one sees the box score of 7-6 on Sunday, they might be upset to see that we blew a 6-1 lead. Yeah, I know the games do not count. So I looked deeper to what positive this Spring Training game showed.
The first thing that popped out to me was the styles of play exhibited by the two teams. The pitchers’ duel until the bottom of the seventh the way Feller would have pitched it (1-1)turned into a barrage of runs from the 7th inning on, showing 6 runs for Cincinnati and 5 for Cleveland. Thus, the 7-6 final score.This resembled the way Sparky Anderson’s Big Red Machine teams played. Score, score, score!
Secondly, the third basemen did well. When reading about how the Indians are looking for a third baseman and 5th starter, it was great to see everyone in contention for these spots getting their work in and doing well. Jason Donald, one third baseman candidate and the one to most likely win the position at least at the start of the 2011 campaign went 1-2 with a double and a run scored. The third baseman of the future, Lonnie Chisenhall, went 2-3 with two doubles and two runs batted in.
Last but not least, in terms of the 5th starter candidates, their lines showed how the two gentlemen want this spot to be theirs. Josh Tomlin, one candidate for #5 started the game finishing with two innings pitched, giving up 1 hit and throwing 1 strikeout. The other candidate, Aaron Laffey, pitched 1 inning only giving up 1 hit.
In both cases, the competition for the fith starter and hot corner was heating up in the desert right out of the gate. When it comes to this production, I, as a fan like to see the depth it creates and the options it presents for Manager Manny Acta.
Notes from Game 2. 2/28/2011 This day back home in northeast Ohio brought flooding to many, myself included. Not a pleasant situation at all. Yet in terms of baseball, it was pleasant as someone opened the flood gates not to the parched earth of the Arizona desert but to the run department of the Cleveland Indians. While most of us were trying to assess the damage to our property back home, the Indians were breaking open the flood gates with one run off Bronson Arroyo
the possible #1 starter, one run off the closer,
Francisco Cordero, two runs off Dontrelle Willis,
trying to get a spot on the starting rotation and four runs, three earned off Nick Masset
(the man only gave up 20 earned runs last year in 76 innings pitched. Already he gave up 3 earned runs in 1/3 of an inning.) I know Reds fans, the games do not count but still, I would be concerned especially with Masset.
Offensively, I was impressed with Ezequiel Carrera, the AAA gentleman who we received when dealing Russell the muscle Branyan to Seattle last season. Speaking of muscle, Ezequiel is showing consistency going 1-3 with 2 runs batted in game 2 and in game 1, he went 1-2 with a homerun. Take that muscle! I’m keeping my eye on this kid’s progress.
Today the Dodgers come to town, with the very recent loss of Duke Snider. I remember me as a three year old living in AZ wearing a Dodger cap. I was a fan but never saw them play in person at that time. There were no D-Backs then, so for me, I too I share my condolences and tip my cap for one of the greatest Dodgers, Mr. Snider. Thank you, Duke!