Eleven thoughts for the 11 Tribe batters who came to the plate in the eighth inning.
1. The third-base battle between Lonnie Chisenhall and Carlos Santana might be starting to get interesting. On Tuesday against the Diamondbacks, Chisenhall hit a 400-foot home run to center field. On Wednesday against the Padres, Santana smashed a two-run homer to right field, while Chisenhall went 2 for 4 with a double off the top of the wall in right.
2. Francona seems like he would like nothing more than to see both to heat up at the plate. “If that’s the issues we have, that too many of our guys played well, then we’ll gladly accept that,” Francona said.
3. Everyone may be looking at Santana in the field, but a little friendly hitting competition might be good for both of them. Chisenhall seems to putting his swing together, raising his spring average to .308 in nine games. Santana, likely more worried about his fielding, is at .182 through seven games.
4. When it comes to the third base job, nothing goes unnoticed. WTAM’s Nick Camino caught Indians manager Terry Francona looking at general manager Chris Antonetti in the stands after Santana backhanded a ball and threw a bullet to first in the third inning. “I look up at Chris on a lot of things. You guys aren’t supposed to see that,” Francona said after the game. Warning served. Keep your eyes to yourself.
5. It’s hard to tell if center fielder Nyjer Morgan, who has an alter-ego he calls Tony Plush, has a legitmate shot to make the team. But Francona said Morgan “seems like he’s on a mission. He’s played the game just like that. When a guy goes out there and throws his body all over the field, is ready whenever you tell him, regardless of whether they get hits or not, it’s hard not to be pleased with their intentions.”
6. I’m not so sure I’d want the extracurricular antics that come with Morgan. But Francona has 13 years of managerial experience, so I’ll let him be the judge of that.
7. Francona has seen improvement from right-handed reliever Chen-Chang Lee. Lee underwent right elbow reconstruction in June, 2012 and pitched at Single, Double and Triple A last season, along with 4.1 innings for the Indians, including five appearances in September.
8. “He looks like he’s getting more confident, even facing left-handers,” Francona said of Lee. “He’s not backing off his fastball in the zone. He threw a real good breaking ball to finish off the hitter. He threw it out of the zone, which is what he wanted to do. Against lefties he’s been getting in a little bit of a pattern where he’ll flip it over for a strike and want to bury it sometimes. That was the one we were looking for.”
9. Francona said he won’t challenge a call just for practice when he gets the next opportunity to test the new instant replay system on Friday. “When you really think about it, what’s the use of running out on the field, making the umpire put the headset on so he can walk off the field and say, ‘No, we were right,’” Francona said.
10. Francona said he’s learned more talking to umpires about how it will work. He said he talked to Jim Joyce after Tuesday’s game and Mike Winters recently. “Those types of conversations put me at ease,” Francona said. “We’ll figure it out. I would say to a person, everybody wants this to go correctly. It’s implemented for the right reasons. Everybody hopes the spirit of the rule works and it doesn’t get beat around.”
11. From the ‘I wish I were a kid’ file: A large snow cone stand sits on the first base side of the concourse at Goodyear Park. Buyers are handed a large plain cone and can choose their own flavors, with spigots to release many varieties of syrup.