A Ridenour record 22 final thoughts on a busy day in Goodyear.
1. Manager Terry Francona sounded like the Indians might make their decision on the final spot in the starting rotation before Josh Tomlin takes the mound against the Texas Rangers today in Goodyear Ballpark.
2. “I’m sure we’ll go back and revisit some things,” Francona said Monday after the game. “I think we probably know how we feel about things, but there’s also a respectful way to talk to players. We need to make sure we do that.”
3. Francona was encouraged by Carlos Carrasco’s final spring start. Carrasco gave up three runs on nine hits against the Reds. He lasted his scheduled six innings, unlike his last time out against the Oakland A’s on March 19. That day he went 2.2 innings in what was supposed to be a five-inning relief appearance and was rocked for eight runs (five earned).
4. This time when runners got on base, Carrasco remained aggressive. In his final inning, four of the first five Reds to bat got hits, including RBI doubles by Jay Bruce and Zack Cozart. But Carrasco struck out three in the inning, including the final two batters, Brayan Pena and Chris Nelson.
5. “Definitely. That was really good to see,” Francona said. “Even as he got fatigued, he didn’t back off.”
6. Carrasco said last week he looked at photographs of his arm slot from his previous four spring outings. He said he’d lapsed into an old habit of dropping his elbow too low and concentrated on his new overhead motion.
7. “I just threw my arm a little bit up,” Carrasco said. “Today I got in my mind, get (my arm) on the top and finish strong. That’s what they want me to do. When I do that, I feel stronger and the balls go more nice and easy.”
8. Francona said, “It’s something he worked on all winter and progressively over the course of spring it kind of wandered a little lower. It takes away some of the aggressiveness in his delivery and with that some deception. He and (pitching coach) Mickey (Callaway) have tightened that up. He’s aware of it. He agrees with it. Trying to get it where he doesn’t have to think about it would be helpful.”
9. Judging from what Francona said post-game, it sounded like Carrasco will fill the final spot in the rotation. One reason is he’s out of options. Another is that Francona said he’s got “top-of-the rotation stuff.” Tomlin has three minor league options remaining. He’ll probably head to Triple-A Columbus for more seasoning after right elbow reconstruction in August, 2012.
10. If Carrasco makes the rotation, there will be two spots remaining in the bullpen. It sounds likely that one will be Scott Atchison, 38, a right-hander signed to a free agent minor league contract. After Monday’s roster moves when C.C. Lee was sent to Triple-A, the other looks to be right-hander Blake Wood.
11. Atchison pitched 42 games for Francona in Boston in 2012 and Francona has a little bit of a full-circle feeling about him.
12. “I had a conversation with him my last day in Boston. I knew I wasn’t coming back,” Francona said. “He was walking away. I said, ‘Atch, regardless of what happens next year, you can pitch for me any day.’ Funny how this game kind of turns around.”
13. Atchison has a 2.25 ERA in eight spring games. In 2012 and 2013, he spent times on the disabled list with a strained right elbow. “He’s exactly what we hoped,” Francona said. “He had some arm issues a couple years ago. He elected not to have Tommy John and rehabbed it. He has late movement, he throws the ball in the zone and he doesn’t beat himself. He’s very valuable.”
14. The newfound maturity general manager Chris Antonetti and Francona have seen from third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall isn’t just reflected in the way he talks. Antonetti cited the work Chisenhall has put in with hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo and with infield coach Mike Sarbaugh.
15. “To hear him talk about the work he needs to put in in the cages with Ty, working with Sarby, the routines to be ready for when Tito calls on him … if that’s to get four at-bats in the game or come in and pinch-hit or play defense or pinch run, to hear Lonnie take responsibility for being that player that has that team-first approach, that was really encouraging,” Antonetti said.
16. Strangely enough, it now appears Chisenhall and converted catcher Carlos Santana could share two positions – third and designated hitter.
17. Chisenhall celebrated the news he’d made the 25-man roster with his second home run of the spring. “I thought Lonnie had a good day before he stepped on the field,” Francona said.
18. Right-handed reliever C.C. Lee is headed for Columbus, but Francona said his “future is burning bright” and said he would be “shocked” if he’s not helping the Indians at some point.
19. “This might be more about at the beginning of the year making sure we get him consistent innings,” Francona said of Lee, 27. “I think a big thing is in his mind he’s made the adjustments and turned the corner to facing major league hitters. I think that was an obstacle when he first got called up and he’s tackling that.”
20. Francona said he and Antonetti talked at length with Trevor Bauer after telling the 23-year-old right-hander he was headed to Triple-A.
21. “He’s a pretty thoughtful guy,” Francona said. “We tried to get him to understand where we view him. That’s a kid who has gone through a lot of changes, a high-profile trade, he goes through mechanical changes because of an injury, he’s trying to get back to where he was. Had a lot of hiccups last year. He came to camp thinking he’s ready to go because he worked so hard and had a few more hiccups. The last two weeks he has done everything in his power that shows us that his path is coming. And when it gets here, we want this kid to come here and stay here. Finding consistency in what he does is very important. We have a lot of confidence in the fact that he will do that.”
22. Antonetti spoke in just as glowing terms about Bauer. “The thing we’re so encouraged about is Trevor is far closer to being a very successful major league pitcher than he was six months ago and two weeks ago even,” Antonetti said. “He’s on that right path. The next part is making sure he’s consistent with it. When he gets that consistency, there’s no doubt he’s going to be a successful major league pitcher.”