Eleven thoughts in honor of former Cavalier Zydrunas Ilgauskas, whose No. 11 was retired Saturday night.
1. Through 11 games, the Indians pitching staff has set the bar high. It has compiled a 2.70 ERA, giving up 30 earned runs in 100 innings. The group has allowed 78 hits in 373 opposing at-bats, struck out 100, walked only 30 and surrendered six home runs.
2. “Normally in spring you let guys pitch out of innings because they need their work,” Indians manager Terry Francona said Sunday after the Tribe improved to 9-1-1. “Guys have come in and thrown strikes, so they really haven’t had a big inning. Saying that, it will happen tomorrow. But staff-wide, they’ve done a really good job of working ahead, all the things you’re looking for.”
3. Josh Tomlin seems to be doing all the right things as he battles for the fifth starter’s role after undergoing right elbow reconstruction in August, 2012. He said he did a lot of throwing in the off-season so he wasn’t extremely tired after throwing four scoreless innings, even though they required 65 or 66 pitches.
4. Even though Francona said Tomlin has “a really bright future,” that doesn’t mean he’s going to make the 25-man roster out of camp. The other candidates for the No. 5 spot are Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and Aaron Harang. Tomlin has a minor league option left, which makes it more likely he’ll start the season at Triple A-Columbus. Right now I’d say Carrasco is leading the pack.
5. I’m no longer counting Danny Salazar in the race for No. 5, despite Francona’s recent references to the attractiveness of April off days delaying the need for a fifth starter immediately. I’m putting Salazar in the starting rotation.
6. I loved Tomlin’s attitude about the battle he’s embroiled in. “I really don’t think about it. Every time we talk it’s about that fifth spot. We’re all in this for the same goal, to win a World Series,” he said.
7. As dreadful as Mark Reynolds looked at the plate at the end of his Tribe tenure before he was released on Aug. 12, his career may still have life. Reynolds was signed by the Brewers to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. According to CBSSports.com, he is virtually assured a spot on the 25-man roster to play in a first base platoon, receiving a $2 million contract that included another $500,000 in incentives. That’s after Reynolds hit 13 of his 15 home runs with for the Tribe in March, April and May and and finished last season playing 36 games for the New York Yankees.
8. Indians’ right fielder Ryan Raburn hates sitting out with a sore left knee after running into the wall at Cubs Park Friday. But he said what’s most frustrating is that he’s missing needed at-bats before he returns home to the Tampa, Fla., area March 17 for wife Suzanne’s scheduled delivery of their second daughter the next day. He said Suzanne’s due date is April 4, the Tribe’s home opener.
9. The Raburns nearly went for another lucky number birth. Because daughter Taytum was born on 3-11-11, they toyed with the idea of scheduling this delivery for 3-14-14.
10. Milwaukee was playing a split squad game and most of the starters were taking on the Chicago Cubs in Mesa, so the 18 men the Brewers left on base against the Indians was somewhat deceiving.
11. I’ve been a sports writer for 37 years and covered professional sports for 32 of those. But until Sunday I’ve never had an athlete end an interview the way Jason Giambi, 43, did. “Always a pleasure,” Giambi said after we spent about eight minutes discussing a number of Tribe subjects.