One name that is quickly being thrown around t replace the fired Eric Wedge is Boston Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell, although his availability is a currently a point of contention.To read more or comment...
Tuesday night's game against the White Sox was postponed because of rain, even though there was very little precipitation in the forecast for 7 p.m. and afterward.
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But for whatever reason, Indians officials prefer to play a doubleheader today beginning at 4:05 p.m. It will require only one admission, and fans who held tickets for tonight's scheduled game will see both contests on the same ticket.
CLEVELAND: One of the many decisions the Indians must make in the off season concerns Andy Marte.
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Do they keep him on the 40-man roster and give him a chance to make the team in spring training or leave him unprotected and allow him to seek employment elsewhere?
In a press release Monday, the Indians announced the signing of 15 minor- league free agent players.
The names won't be familiar as the group of players come from Venezuela, Panama and the Dominican Republic.
Here are the names of the players (all are 16 years old unless otherwise noted in parenthesis) and Latin American Countried in which they come from:
* DOMINICAN REPUBLIC OF Angel Hernandez LHP Alexander Joseph INF Jairo Kelly INF Jorge Martinez INF Luigy Rodriguez RHP Amiro Santana RHP Juan Santana
RHP Yan Carlos Caripa CA Juan Carlos DelaCruz INF Richard Delgado RHP Nietzer Jimenez (18) RHP Alejandro Rivas (18) CA Gustavo Rojas (17)
LHP Jonathan Cedeno (17) CA Franklin Moreno
In the release, John Mirabelli, the Indians assistant general manager and scouting operations director, had this to say about the group:
"We are very excited about the upside of this group. Our scouts did a great job targeting athletes with premium-position ability and power-arm potential. We are looking forward to watching the development of these players in the upcoming years."
CLEVELAND: At 27, Michael Aubrey finally has begun a major-league career that was stalled for years by injury.
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Aubrey was the Indians first-round draft pick in 2003 but spent most of his first five years as a professional rehabbing injuries: a strained quad in 2003, hamstring strain in 2004, stress fracture in his back in 2005, strained knee in 2006 and hamstring and abdominal strains in 2007.
Manager Eric Wedge did not want to take a chance on aggravating Matt LaPorta's inflamed left hip in wet weather and left him out of the lineup Saturday night.
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""It's tough to put him in there with this rain,'' Wedge said. ""I don't want to lose him for the rest of the season.''
CLEVELAND: Manager Eric Wedge says Justin Masterson is a starter, which fits with Masterson's career plans. ¶
But the experiment to determine whether Masterson can maintain enough consistency to be in the Indians' rotation seems inconclusive. In Masterson's past two outings, he gave up 11 earned runs in eight innings. In the two starts before that, he allowed only two earned runs in 12 innings. ¶
""I feel strong about it,'' said Wedge, affirming his belief Thursday that Masterson should start. ""The easiest thing for us to do would be to use him out of the bulllpen. But when someone has a chance to be at least a middle-of-the-rotation guy, you have to explore it.'' ¶
That's what Masterson wants to hear. ¶
""Where I see myself is as a guy who needs to get back to throwing strikes,'' Masterson said. ""Whether I start or relieve, that's what I have to do. For now, I look at myself as a starter. I like the idea of starting. The only thing holding me back is controlling the strike zone.'' ¶
Command has been an issue. Since being traded by the Red Sox for Victor Martinez July 31, Masterson has walked 33 in 481/3 innings. ¶
""In the bullpen, you can get lucky,'' he said. ""When you throw an inning or two, you might struggle a little, but you can lock it in and get guys out.'' ¶
One thing that Masterson must overcome is size. It's difficult for a pitcher who stands 6-foot-6 to keep his arms and legs working together. ¶
""I'm a bigger guy, and I'm, flexible,'' he said. ""So things are going everywhere. Things are spinning all over the place.'' ¶
Another issue is the lack of a consistent off-speed pitch. ¶
""I think the changeup is a nice pitch, but to put all my eggs in one basket -- I've been successful without it. If I can control my fastball and my sinker, I can use the changeup four or five times a game to keep the hitters from cheating.'' ¶
As as reliever, Masterson didn't need an off-speed pitch and threw the changeup only in the bullpen, so he doesn't always have confidence in the pitch. ¶
""They've talked about me throwing it more, and that's not always fun,'' Masterson said. ""Sometimes I'll start overthinking the changeup, then I bring it to Miguel Cabrera, and he hits it pretty far.'' ¶
That happened Wednesday night against the Tigers. ¶
It was mentioned that it must be difficult for a pitcher who throws 96 miles per hour to trust a pitch that travels 75 mph. ¶
""You want to make sure you throw it slow,'' Masterson said, ""so you slow your arm down. Of course, that's not what you want to do. '' ¶
ANOTHER MEETING -- Less than two weeks ago, manager Eric Wedge called the Indians together for what amounts to a pep talk. ¶
The club was losing, and he wanted everyone to keep his head up. The team has kept right on losing, and Thursday Wedge called another meeting. ¶
""I just want them to back off a little,'' he said. ""You still have to have fun and be loose to be at your best. You have to relax and play, focus in on the moment and let everything else take care of itself.'' ¶
You would think that a man who might be fired in less than two weeks wouldn't worry about whether his youthful charges feeling upbeat near the end of a lost season. ¶
""The last two times he's talked to us, he's been very positive,'' said Trevor Crowe, one of the Tribe's rookies. ""It's always about the players. ¶
""To me personally, I feel like he's been supportive, and that he's got my back as a manager. He's really making the best of the situation he's in. I would be sad to see him go.'' ¶
WELCOME WAGON ON THE WAY -- The news that Shaquille O'Neal is moving into Wedge's development in Richfield was not news to Wedge. ¶
""I've heard it from everybody,'' he said. ""I'm trying to stay under the radar.'' ¶
Will O'Neal be living near Wedge? ¶
""Close,'' he said with a smile. ¶
LAPORTA UPDATE -- Matt LaPorta (left hip inflammation) did not start Thursday night, but he's getting close. ¶
""He's better,'' Wedge said. ""He's taking BP, and he should play tomorrow.'' ¶
LaPorta's hip was sound enough for him to pinch hit Thursday night if needed but not to play in the field. ¶
CLEVELAND: Managers are made not born, but who makes them?
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In just 10 days, Eric Wedge will complete his seventh season as manager of the Indians. Even though he has a contract for 2010, Wedge might not be back. More than likely, we will learn Wedge's fate one or two days after the schedule has been played out on Oct. 4.
As has been rumored for some time now, the Eastern League's Connecticut Defenders franchise will relocate to Richmond, Va., for next season and play at The Diamond.
The Diamond was the longtime home of the Triple-A Richmond Braves (since 1966), who moved across state to Gwinett.To read more or comment...
CLEVELAND: Lots of attention has been paid to the Indians' novices lately,mostly because there are so many of them in the lineup or on the mound.
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Manager Eric Wedge has cited the team's inexpierience as a cause of several breakdowns during the Tribe's recent skid -- 17 losses in 20 games -- heading into Tuesday night's game against the Tigers.
What is left for the Indians to play for?
No matter how many of the last 13 games they win, they will not induce the fans to visit Progressive Field next year. Neither can they significantly improve their place in the standings nor come close to finishing .500.To read more or comment...
A big five-run fourth inning was the spark the host Aeros needed to claim their third Eastern League Championship title in seven years Saturday night at Canal Park.
But it was fittingly a classic Carlos Santana two-run home run an inning later that provided the big blow to clinch the outcome early, as the Eastern League MVP piled on with a moon-shot that cleared the right field bleachers and helped the Aeros to a 10-6 victory over visiting Connecticut.
"It's been a real special year for myself and all these guys," Aeros manager Mike Sarbaugh said. "What a super group of guys. Every time new guys came up, they bought right in and helped us out."
The tone of the night was set early by Aeros starting pitcher Scott Barnes, who found himself facing some of his former teammates for the second time after being sent to Cleveland in the Ryan Garko trade to San Francisco.
Had Barnes not been traded, he probably would have pitched against the Aeros in the finals as the Defenders added a handful of young hurlers for help in the playoffs.
Instead, he took the mound wearing a purple Aeros jersey and went on to earn the win in limiting the Defenders to two unearned runs on two hits while striking out seven through five innings.
"You couldn't have asked for a better performance out of Scott," Sarbaugh said. "He threw awesome, especially coming of an 11-day layoff."
Opposing Barnes (originally selected in the eighth round of the 2008 draft) on the mound was Connecticut starter and fellow lefty Ari Ronick, who was making just his second start at the Double-A level after being called up from low Class-A Augusta.
Ronick, the parent-club Giants' 12th-round pick also from the the 2008 draft class, didn't fare as well Saturday as he did in his debut last week against New Britain, when he pitched Connecticut into the E.L. Finals.
Against the Aeros, Ronick wasn't nearly as sharp. He lasted just three-plus innings, giving up five runs on six hits and three walks to take the loss.
Akron started the scoring with a run in the second inning thanks to two free passes issued by Ronick and an RBI-double by Jose Constanza. The host came right back with another run in the second to take a two-run lead aided by an error.
But it was a pair of Akron errors on the same play in the fourth inning that gift-wrapped Connecticut's first two runs in the fourth inning and tied the game. With two outs, Barnes issued his first walk of the night to Eddy Martinez-Esteve and Brad Boyer followed with a single up the middle.
Castro then slapped a routine ball to Aeros third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, who threw the ball wide right to second base for what should have been the inning-ending force out.
But the ball trickled out to shallow right field, where an over-anxious John Drennen tried to get Boyer advancing to third. But Drennen put way too much on his throw as it sailed into the stands and allowed Boyer to slowly trot home.
Drennen promptly made up for his mistake in the bottom of the inning when he sent Ronick's first offering into the bleachers beyond the right field wall to hand the Aeros the lead again.
The home run not only ended Ronick's night after just three-plus innings, but also sparked a five-run frame in which the host took a 7-2 lead as it batted around and sent 11 men to the plate.
"It just imploded on us," Connecticut manager Steve Decker said. "Once they got the momentum going, we couldn't stop them."
After Santana's two-run shot pushed Akron's advantage to seven runs, the Aeros added one more insurance run in the sixth on a Constanza RBI-single that pushed the Aeros' lead to an insurmountable eight-run cushion.
The defenders climbed to within six runs with a two-run eighth inning and then closed the gap to four runs in the ninth, but the rally proved to be a little too late.
AEROS NOTEBOOK: * SALUTING THE ARMY: Minor League baseball sent an edict to the Aeros after they won the Eastern League Southern Division Series three-games-to-none over Reading, mandating that the club stop wearing their favorite jerseys - their alternate camoflauge jersey - through the remainder of the playoffs.
Not only are the camos considered "specialty jerseys" that are only to be worn for special ocassions, but minor league baseball officials also considered the Army patch sewn on each jersey's left arm to be a form of banned advertisment.
But minor league baseball didn't cover all their bases. For, they failed to ban anyone else from wearing the camoflauge jerseys asscoiated with the tyeam. Thus, the camos were spotted all over Saturday at Canal Park - worn by front office workers, the grounds crew, the bat boys and even the team's mascot Orbit.
Many believe they were the Aeros good luck charm Saturday. * AKRON'S HOT HITTERS: Outfielder Jerad Head has been the Aeros spark plug and RBI leader throughout the playoffs, earning him the Eastern League Postseason MVP honors.
But rookie third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall and second baseman Josh Rodriguez made their marks as well.
Chisenhall entered Saturday's play quietly leading all hitters in the post season with a healthy .520 (13-for-25) batting average that was helped by a three-hit effort in Friday's 8-7 loss to visiting Connecticut. Meanwhile, Rodriguez extended his hitting streak to 15 consecutive games Saturday with a first-inning single and went to go 3-for-4 with two runs scored.
Michael Brantley has foot speed, but he still needs to refine his techniques. That doesn't just mean stealing bases.
""I'm a bunter, and I have to start taking advantage of my speed that way,'' he said, referring to bunting for hits. ""I didn't have as many bunt hits in the minors as I should have this year, but it's something I want to do.''To read more or comment...
Aeros Notebook for Game Three of the Eastern League Championhip Series
WHERE'S THE GOODS?: Many Aeros fans attending Friday's Game Three of the finals left the Infield Outfitters team shop at Canal Park were vocally disappointed after realizing there wasn't much merchandise left in the near-bare store.
Not only was there little merchandise left over from the regular season to chose from, but the biggest gripe was that there were no Eastern League Championship Series shirts for sale.
Typically a norm in the past for the perennial playoff team, only a handful of black shirts with red lettering were printed for front office workers, but not even ushers - much to their dismay. In addition, the playoff-clinching navy shirts that began being sold late in the regular season once the Aeros clinched a playoff spot, were already sold out.
"I come in here to buy a shirt and there's nothing," said Rob Roskie from Uniontown, who was wearing a worn and gray 2005 Aeros championship T-shirt. "How can there be nothing when the team's in the middle of the playoffs? They wonder why fans don't come out like they used to. Well, here's one pretty good reason."
Aeros CEO and president Greg Agganis explained that faced with having to order at least seven dozen shirts at a time from the manufacturer, he chose instead to be creative.
"We're thinking of doing a shirt after the season that says 'three-time Eastern League Champions'," Agganis said. "Then we'd sell it during the off season and into next season."
Of course there's one caveat to that thinking, as the Aeros must go on and win out to claim their third title, first. YOU'RE OUTTA HERE!: A frustratingly inconsistent strike zone by home plate umpire John Conrad left players from both sides shaking their heads during and after many at-bats, unsure of exactly where the zone was all night.
But Aeros right fielder John Drennen took his complaining a little too far after grounding out for the first out of the eighth inning. Drennen was ejected by Conrad after he complained as he walked back to the dugout, and was unaware that he's even been tossed for a minute or so.
The event wouldn't matter so much had Connecticut's decisive run not scored in the ninth inning after new left fielder Cristo Arnal and shortstop Carlos Rivero collided on a ball hit to shallow left.
After Drennen left the game, Jerad Head moved from left to right and Arnal (a middle infielder) was pressed into outfield duty. When the ball dropped (likely because Rivero wasn't sure about Arnal's defensive abilities), Defender's pinch hitter Tyler LaTorre earned the game-winning RBI double. THANKS FOR COMING: A walk-up crowd of over more than 1,000 people bolstered the attendance at Canal Park to 4,252 Friday - a solid playoff crowd, especially for a Fall high school football night. In addition, the crowd was boisterous and engaged, following along with the game despite an early scoreboard crash that left the board frozen and possibly out for the remainder of the series. UP NEXT: Game four of the Eastern League Championship Series pits Aeros left-hander Scott Barnes (0-0, 0.00 ERA in the playoffs) against Defenders left-hander Ari Ronick. Game time is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Canal Park.
OAKLAND, Calif.: Slumps don't mean as much at this time of year if a team is not in contention for the playoffs. Even defeat loses much of its impact when a club isn't going anywhere but home when the schedule concludes. [ep
So is it irrelevant that the Indians have lost five in a row (14 of 17) and are batting .184 over this brief span? The games still count, because players are competing for future employment, and it is hoped that pride energizes them to play hard. [ep
Manager Eric Wedge views his team's current offensive skid this way: ""It's more on us (than a consequence of good pitching). A couple of things are happening. We don't have that many veterans in there, and they're trying to do too much, because they see we're playing a lot of young kids.'' [ep
Since the trades that rid the team of Victor Martinez, Mark DeRosa, Ryan Garko and Ben Francisco, the bottom four spots in the Tribe's batting order have usually been manned by rookies or near-rookies. [ep
That is almost half the lineup, and after awhile the inexperience is going to manifest itself as a lack of offense. For the five games preceding the Tribe's contest with the Athletics Friday night, it is averaging 2.4 runs. [ep
""They're going to have young at-bats,'' Wedge said. ""Eventually, they get better, but they're going to have inconsistencies.'' [ep
At times, rookies will start their careers with a rush then take one or two steps back. How they react to their first major-league failure can be an important juncture in their career. [ep
""There definitely is going to be some fall back at some point,'' Wedge said. ""Sometimes a player will hit the ground running, then fall back. That's when he has to dig himself out of it.'' [ep
A novice athlete in any sport has to fight the emotions that make him doubt his ability. What does Wedge recall of his rookie season in the majors? [ep
""It's survival at first,'' he said. ""Then it's (concern) about how you perform. Usually a rookie doesn't get to play every day, so when he does play he wants to make an impact. That just makes things harder on him.'' [ep
Players seldom admit to worrying about their futures, but in an occupation that can precisely measure success and failure using various sets of numbers, it's difficult not to think about where you stand. [ep
""That's always in the back of your mind,'' Wedge said. ""In pro sports in general, with veterans near the end of the their careers and guys starting out, there is always somebody trying to take your job. So you're trying to establish yourself and be able to make a liviing.'' [ep
Trevor Crowe is one of the Indians' rookies trying to establish himself as a bona fide big-league player. So what's the hardest part about being a rookie? [ep
""Just learning a new routine,'' he said. ""What time to come in, getting comfortable with your teammates. You want to be yourself, but you also want to respect guys who've been here, who have some service time. [ep
""You worry about being on time and doing things the right way. What veteran guys respect is how you prepare and how you treat them.'' [ep
Initially, Crowe did not mention concern about his own performance. [ep
""Obvously, you want to play well, no matter what,'' he said. ""But the main thing these guys look at is not just whether you're trying, but whether you're prepared.'' [ep
EXPECTATIONS HIGH -- Will Michael Brantley have a chance to compete for an everyday job in the Indians' lineup next spring? [ep
""I believe he could,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ""I believe he should. A prospective outfield of Shin-Soo Choo, Grady Sizemore and Brantley is going to run a lot of balls down.'' [ep
Brantley has yet to show an ability to drive the ball, but that's fine with Wedge. [ep
""If he sprays the ball around, hits balls in front of outfielders, hits balls in the gaps, that will be fine,'' Wedge said. ""I think he'll get his share of doubles and triples. I look at him as a leadoff type of guy.'' [ep
Could Brantley be an alternative to Sizemore in the leadoff spot? ""He could be,'' Wedge said. [ep
ONE MORE DAY -- Asdrubal Cabrera's sore knee kept him out of the lineup Friday night, but he thinks he will play today. [ep
""I'm taking batting practice and ground balls,'' he said. ""I'll be ready tomorrow.'' [ep
Wedge confirmed Cabrera's opinion and said he was ready at least to pinch hit Friday night. Cabrera fouled a ball off his knee in Minnesota Tuesday night. [ep
DAY OF REST -- Cabrera wasn't the only one missing from the lineup. Luis Valbuena and Travis Hafner got the night off. [ep
""Valbuena has played more this year than he ever has,'' Wedge said. ""The season has definitely been more extreme for him, and there are signs showing that.'' [ep
WHO KNEW? -- Since the All-Star Game, Jeremy Sowers is ninth with a 3.18 ERA among American League pitchers with at least 40 innings of work. He has a 4-2 record in nine starts. [ep
OAKLAND, Calif.: The Athletics are a team in pain. ¶
They play in a ballpark etched with yard markers, owing to the presence of the Oakland Raiders. Their roster is filled with players who might be future stars or future stiffs, and nobody comes to watch. ¶
Check that: Attendance Thursday night was 10,873, but that figure is represents tickets sold not bodies in the seats. Say one thing for the estimated 3,000 who showed up, they had a good time watching their team hand the Indians their 14th loss in the past 17 games. ¶
The score was 5-2, and Justin Masterson suffered through one of his poorer starts. ¶
Masterson was in trouble from the outset, giving up a double to Adam Kennedy, who led off in the first inning. Two ground balls later, Kennedy scored, but Masterson allowed no further damage in that inning. ¶
But he limped through the third inning, which began with a walk to Cliff Pennington. Kennedy followed with his second double, scoring Pennington. Two more runs would follow before Masterson retired the side. ¶
Masterson achieved temporary relief by striking out Rajai Davis, but he walked Ryan Sweeney to put runners on first and second, and Kurt Suzuki hammered a drive over the center field wall for a three-run homer that gave Oakland a 5-0 lead. ¶
One out later, Jack Cust and Mark Ellis singled, but Masterson induced Daric Barton to bounce to second to finally retire the side. Two more batters reached in the fourth, but Masterson held the line. ¶
Manager Eric Wedge elected to go to his bullpen after the fourth inning, because Masterson had already thrown 93 pitches. Moreover, he did not have anything close to satisfactory command (he walked four), though he did have good enough stuff to strike out six. ¶
Among the Athletics roster of largely anonymous pitchers, Clayton Mortensen has the distinction of coming to Oakland in the deal that sent Matt Holliday to the Cardinals. That means he should be a serious prospect. ¶
He began the sedason at Memphis, St. Louis' Triple-A affiliate and spent time at Sacramento, the A's Triple-A farm team. He was summoned to Oakland in August and made three starts before Thursday night (He also started a game for the Cards in June). ¶
Though his earned-run average coming in was a disappointing 6.88, Mortensen began to show promise in his last start, against the Twins, whom he held to one run in six innings for his first major-league win. ¶
Mortensen found the going easy against the Tribe. In five innings, he allowed just one run and four hits, walking three. ¶
He got in trouble in the second but only because he walked two and gave up an infield single to load the bases with two outs. ¶
The Tribe did not threaten again until the fifth, when Lou Marson led off with a single and scored on Trevor Crowe's triple. Michael Brantley's ground out brought Crowe to the plate, but Mortensen stopped the bleeding right there, although he allowed a single to Shn-Soo Choo before retiring the
Was it Mortensen's excellence or the Tribe's incompetence? Four A's relievers followed Mortensen to the mound, and all of them put a chill into the Indians' attack, giving up two hits and a walk in four innings. ¶
A succession of relievers -- Jensen Lewis, MIke Gosling, Jose Veras -- kept a lid on the Oakland attack, which produced only one hit off the Tribe bullpen. ¶
OAKLAND: Rookies wear big-league uniforms, but they aren't fully-formed major leaguers. ¶
Nobody is more aware of that than manager Eric Wedge, whose young Indians tested his patience during the three-game series (all losses) against the Twins that concluded Wednesday at the Metrodome. [ep
Before Tuesday night's game, Wedge presided over a team meeting, explaining afterward, ""There were a few things I wasn't crazy about. We have a lot of young people here. I want to make sure they know how we go about things.'' [ep
After a loss the next night, Wedge blamed bad decisions for costing the club two or three runs. ¶
Unfortunately, it takes time for novices to become veterans. And it's difficult to rush the process. ¶
""Sometimes you give them a pat on the butt,'' the manager said, ""and sometimes you give them a kick in the butt, whatever you have to do to help them get better. ¶
""Consistency is the key. Nothing is more important. The game is much faster up here than in the minors. You have to make decisions quickly. To do that, you have to prepare. You can't be thinking about it in real time and then saying go.'' ¶
Even a couple of months can make a noticeable difference in a novice player's performance. Matt LaPorta doesn't look like the same player now as he did in his first 31/2-week stint with the Tribe in May. ¶
Improvement is based primarily on repetition and receiving advice from the manager and coaching staff. But Wedge feels the most effective guidance can come from teammates. ¶
""We don't have a large number of veterans,'' Wedge said. ""But Jamey (Carroll) will pull somebody aside, so will Kerry Wood and Travis Hafner. That is very appreciated. I'm a very big believer in one player doing something for another player.'' ¶
Carroll said he has not always felt comfortable correcting another player. ¶
""But moreso this year than any other,'' he said. ""I always looked at myself as the 25th guy on the roster, someone who was just happy to be here.'' ¶
But in his two years with Cleveland, Carroll has become a valuable piece of the puzzle, moreso than most utility players. ¶
""If' I'm around certain situations, I might offer up something,'' he said. ""Most of the time, some coach will beat me to it. Even then, I might come up afterward and say something. I always did things by observing, so this was kind of new to me.'' ¶
There have been veteran players who have taken it upon themselves to mentor a particular rookie. Former Tribe designated hitter Ellis Burks once bought C.C. Sabathia a suit. Later, Sabathia did the same for a newcomer. ¶
""Bartolo Colon bought me a couple of suits,'' Carroll said. ""So did Michael Barrett. I think with Bartolo it was more a thing that me and Endy Chavez got called up when he won 20 games, 10 in one league and 10 in the other.'' ¶
That was in 2002, when Colon was traded by the Tribe to the Expos. ¶
Players don't have to criticize one another to make a point. When two young players become buddies, the interaction can serve to make both more adept on the field. ¶
Asdrubal Cabrera and Luis Valbuena have that kind of rapport, and they play next to each other, Cabrera at shortstop, Valbuena at second. ¶
""If two guys are hanging out together, the conversation is going to be about baseball, either at the ballpark or somewhere else,'' Wedge said. ""When guys like that have a great relationship, you can see it on the field.'' ¶
SPREADING THE WEALTH -- Since being called up from Columbus Aug. 19, Matt LaPorta has hit five home runs, the first three to left, the last two to center. ¶
What difference does it make which direction the ball goes as long as it leaves the ballpark? Throughout LaPorta's minor-league career, his power was as a pull hitter to left. That might be changing. ¶
""I think in all my time in the minors, I hit about three balls to right,'' he said. '""So one thing I've worked on is going the other way. For awhile, I really scuffled trying to do it. I used to be more of a guider. But something clicked, and now I can drive the ball to all fields.'' ¶
OPTIMISTIC ABOUT ASDRUBAL -- Asdrubal Cabrera did not need an X-ray after he fouled a ball of his knee Wednesday. ¶
He has a bruise that kept him out of the lineup Thursday night, but Manager Eric Wedge felt he might play tonight. ¶
""He probably needs a day,'' Wedge said. ""He's OK, though. We'll keep him off his feet as much as we can today and hope he plays tomorrow.'' ¶
TIME MACHINE NEEDED? -- It's been 17 months since the Indians played a series in Oakland, dating to April 4-6, 2008. ¶
""That's something we're becoming accustomed to,'' Wedge said. ""With the unbalanced schedule and interleague play, it doesn't surprise anybody when you haven't been to a particular ballpark or play a team in a long time. ¶
""Our team has turned over, their team has turned over. That's what happens when you're not playing particularly well. That's why you have to do extra preparation.'' ¶
PLAYOFF UPDATE -- Clayton Cook allowed only one run and four hits in five innings, but Mahoning Valley lost the final game of the best-of-three New York-Penn League finals 5-2 to Staten Island. Rafael Vera tripled and drove in a run. ¶
Tyler Minges was the man in 2003.
Nathan Panther came out of nowhere to claim MVP honors in 2005.
If the Aeros are to go on and win their third Eastern League Championship by clinching the title in Game Three of the Eastern League Championship Series tonight at Canal Park, this year's post-season MVP has got to be left fielder Jerad Head.
While fans won't find Head's profile in any prospect books, his clutch hits have helped propel the Aeros to a franchise-best 13-game winning streak and a two-games-to-none advantage over Connecticut.
"I can't say enough about what Jerad Head has meant to this team this year," Aeros manager Mike Sarbaugh said. "He practically carried the team offensively in April when so many others got off to slow starts."
Now, the 6-foot-1, 205-pounder leads all players in the post season in doubles (six), extra-base hits (seven) and RBI (nine).
"I don't know what it is or that I'm doing anything differently," Head said before the team left for Reading last week and swept the Phillies in the E.L. Southern Division Series. "I guess I'm just seeing the ball really well right now."
Signed by the Tribe as an undrafted free agent in 2005 out of Kansas's Washburn University, Head is the quinessential utility man every team covets - for his versatility alone.
But for the Aeros, Head is so much more than a warm body who can fill just about any hole in a lineup. He's played left field, right field, center field, first base, second base, third base and designated hitter for the Aeros this season. Amazingly, he committed just eight errors in 98 games.
In the regular season Head also hit .282 with 23 doubles, four triples, six home runs and 47 RBI - with splits nearly identical whether facing right or left handers.
"Jerad has such a consistent approach to hitting," Sarbaugh said. "It is such a luxury to someone with a little pop in their bat in the nine hole for us."
Head isn't the only hot-hitting Aeros player right now.
Second baseman Josh Rodriguez has found the groove he was in before injuring a hamstring that forced him to miss 101 games during the regular season while rehabbing in Goodyear, Ariz.
Upon his return to the Aeros lineup late in the regular season, Rodriguez went 1-for-23 with 13 strikeouts before finally getting his timing down. In five games in the postseason, Rodriguez is risig a 13-game hitting streak and is batting a healthy .333 (8-for-24) with four doubles and seven RBI.
Rodriguez even hit his first home run of the season - his ninth-inning three-run homer Wednesday night handing the Aeros a 7-6 victory at Connecticut's Dodd Stadium. NOTES: NO MORE CAMO: The Aeros alternate camouflage jerseys that are so favored by the players have been banned for the E.L. Championship Series. Traditionally designed to be worn as an occasional third jersey, the fact that the Aeros wore them in the Southern Division Series against Reading riled up the big wigs at minor league baseball.
In an email to the Aeros brass this week, Tim Brunswick, the executive director of baseball operations at Minor League Baseball wrote: "The camo jerseys are a specialty jersey, and are to only be worn for a special promotion one game a year or possible few games a year with prior approval from Minor League Baseball." THE SCHEDULE: If the Aeros do not clinch the title Friday, Game Four is scheduled for Saturday and (if needed) Game Five Sunday - both games beginning at 7:05 p.m. at Canal Park. STATISTICALLY SPEAKING: The Aeros own the best team batting average (.335) in the playoffs and are also tops in pitching with a 5-0 record and 3.00 ERA. PITCHING MATCHUPS: The Aeros are expected to send left-handed pitcher Eric Berger (1-0, 1.80 ERA) to the mound against Connecticut lefty Craig Clark (0-1, 5.40 ERA) Friday.
One more win.
That's all the Aeros need to claim their third Eastern League Championship after taking a commanding two-games-to-none lead in the finals with a 7-6 victory over host Connecticut Wednesday at Dodd Stadium.
The best-of-five series now shifts to Akron's Canal Park for the weekend after a day off to travel Thursday.
Unlike the previous four playoff games in which the Aeros cruised to wins, the team's franchise-best 13th consecutive victory did not come easy.
After Josh Rodriguez's three-run home run had given the visitors a 7-4 lead in the ninth inning, closer Josh Judy tip-toed through a landmine of a bottom of the inning as the Defenders pulled within a run before Tyler LaTorre was called out on strikes to end the game.
"That ninth inning was certainly interesting," Aeros manager Mike Sarbaugh said. "Not exactly how you draw it up, but we had confidence in (Judy). Of course this time of year, it doesn't matter how you get a win - there's no style points."
Akron jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third inning, sparked by the first of two doubles on the night by hot-hitting Jerad Head.
Connecticut cut into the deficit in the bottom of the inning with a run on back-to-back doubles by Brock Bond and Mike McBryde. Then in the fourth, the Defenders loaded the bases with one out against Aeros starting pitcher Jeanmar Gomez.
While Gomez rebounded to strike out the side to quell the threat, he couldn't continue the Houdini act in the fifth when Brett Pill's solo home run pulled the Defenders within a run, 3-2.
Despite struggling with his command, Gomez limited Connecticut to two runs over five innings before turning the game over to the bullpen. Reliever Carlton Smith breezed through through the sixth inning, and the Aeros offense added an insurance run in the seventh.
But Smith and home plate umpire Shaun Francis did not see eye-to-eye on anything in the bottom of the inning. After a single by McBryde and two walks, the bases were loaded with no outs. When a few more questionable calls led to Smith walking in a run, he was lifted for Zach Putnam.
Putnam did a good job of limiting the damage, getting Eddy Martinez-Esteve to ground into a run-scoring double play and then striking out LaTorre looking. But the damage was done. The Defenders had pulled even, 4-4.
In the ninth, Rodriguez's home run in the top of the ninth gave the Aeros a temporary 7-4 lead. But the Defenders mounted one final rally against Aeros closer Josh Judy, scoring a pair of runs on a McBryde triple and Rodriguez error before LaTorre was again called out looking to end the game.
Matt LaPorta doesn't have an official description yet, as in Indians starting right or left fielder or regular first baseman.
Nothing wrong with that. LaPorta is a rookie with fewer than 40 big-league games on his resume. In most of those, he has played the outfield. But in two of three games against the Minnesota Twins this week, he has moved to first base.To read more or comment...
Make it 12 and counting.
Consecutive wins, that is, as the Aeros continued to roll through the playoffs with a 7-2 victory in the opening game of the Eastern League Championship Series Tuesday night at Connecticut's Dodd Stadium.
MINNEAPOLIS: Northeast Ohio fans won't see the best of the National League East, even though the Indians will be matched up against that division on next year's interleague schedule.
On the other hand, the Tribe got a break in the schedule with Progressive Field playing host to only seven games in April.To read more or comment...
MINNEAPOLIS: Never a dull moment for Indians prospects, even when they're not on the field.
Right-hander Jason Knapp, acquired from the Philllies as part of the Cliff Lee trade, will undergo surgery today in New York. Dr. David Altchek will perform an arthroscopic procedure to remove loose bodies from the 19-year-old's right shoulder.To read more or comment...
CLEVELAND: Austerity has been the watchword for the Indians this season, especially the past three months.
Trades have trimmed millions of dollars from the payroll, which could fall $20 million next year to $60 million or less. The losses of Cliff Lee, Victor Martinez, Mark DeRosa, Ryan Garko, Ben Francisco, Rafael Betancourt and others clearly show that the club is headed for at least one rebuilding year.To read more or comment...
Manager Eric Wedge had no second thoughts about sending Asdrubal Cabrera and Michael Brantley to the plate on shallow singles to left in the ninth and 11th innings of Friday night's 2-1 12-inning loss to the Royals.
Both runners were thrown out by David DeJesus, but Wedge (and probably most managers) would do it again, for one reason: If the runner scores, the Indians win.
""You're trying to win the ballgame right there,'' Wedge said Saturday. ""If you look at the norm, it's tough to do that (throw out the runner) once, let alone twice. The outfielder has to catch the ball, make the transfer, throw it and the catcher has to hang on to it. So there are many things that can go wrong.'' ¶
Managers might differ in their strategies, depending on whether there are two outs or one. ¶
""With two outs, it's a no-brainer,'' Wedge said. ""You just do it. If there's one out, and the runner isn't even close to third (when the outfielder picks up the hit), then maybe you don't. Otherwise, it's reidiculous not to send him, especially if there is a runner behind him who might score (on a subsequent at-bat).'' ¶
WEDGE'S TAKE -- Jamey Carroll's return is very much up in the air, even though Tribe officials like what he has added to the club the past two years. ¶
""In a perfect world, we'd like to have him back,'' the manager said. ""I feel strong about that, so do Mark (Shapiro) and Chris (Antonetti). But it's going to depend on the business side of things.'' ¶
SLOWDOWN OR THE NORM -- After a couple of weeks of torrid hitting, Andy Marte is batting .111 (4-for-36) since Aug. 30. ¶
""Andy was not missing pitches for awhile,'' Wedge said. ""But he has strayed from that a little bit. He needs to go back and do the things that were letting him square up the baseball.'' ¶
Even during his two-week skid, Marte has two home runs. ¶
DEBUT COMING -- After indicating that Matt LaPorta would not be used at first base this season, Wedge said on Saturday, ""He's working hard at first base. I think we're going to get him in there a couple of times before the year is over.'' ¶
LaPorta has been playing left field on a regular basis. Wedge's evaluation: ""He's been very impressive in the outfield.'' ¶
INSTRUCTIONAL LEAGUE LINEUP -- The Indians instructional team schedule begins Sept. 22 and ends Oct. 15 in Arizona. ¶
Tribe minor leaguers who have been asked to participate: ¶
Pitchers Austin Adams, Scott Barnes, Jose Campos, Joseph Colon, Kelvin De La Cruz, Santos Frias, Joseph Gardner, Connor Graham, Trey Haley, Enrique Pacheco, Matt Packer, Orlando Pereira, Alexander Perez, David Roberts, Gregorio Rosario, Danny Salazar, Nick Sarianedes, Bryce Stowell, Alex White. ¶
Catchers Greg Folgia, Chun Chen, Alex Monsalve, Moises Montero, Roberto Perez, Rolando Petit. ¶
Infielders Jesus Aguilar, Kyle Bellows, Jesus Brito, Wuali Bryan, Ben Carlson, Kevin Fontanez, Casey Frawley, Argenis Martinez, Matt McBride, Cord Phelps, Nate Recknagel, Ronald Rivas, Carlos Rivero, Josh Rodriguez, Karexon Sanchez, Jeremie Tice, Giovanny Urshela. ¶
Outfielders Bo Greenwell, Trent Baker, Delvi Cid, Tim Fedroff, Jordan Henry, Jason Kipnis, Diori Robles, Jason Smit, Donnie Webb. ¶
PLAYOFF UPDATE -- Mahoning Valley opens the best of three New York-Penn League finals Monday against either Staten Island or Lowell. During the regular season, Staten Island was 3-0 against the Scrappers. Mahoning Valley held a 2-1 edge over Lowell. ¶
Jamey Carroll has been one of the Indians' more valuable players the past two years, but there is no assurance he will be asked to return in 2010.
As a $2.5 million utility player, Carroll might be a luxury the Tribe can't afford. For the past three months, the team has been trading players to trim salary for next season.
""That's their decision,'' he said. ""That's not something I can control. It's a business decision.'' [ep
Club officials have said that it's unlikely that the team will contend for a postseason berth next year. If that is the case, Carroll, who will be 36 in February, might not fit the Indians' plans. [ep
Then again, he has performed well playing a variety of positions and is a stabilizing influence in a clubhouse that probably will lack veteran leaders. [ep
""We've had talks about my being here,'' Carroll said on Friday. [ep
However, Carroll frankly doesn't know if he will be on the front office's list of wanted players. [ep
""I know they appreciate what I've done here,'' he said. ""But that's about all I can say.'' [ep
Carroll would like to return if an appropriate deal can be worked out. But it only makes sense that he would want to be paid what his past performance says he is worth, particularly if he is going to be part of a rebuilding club. [ep
""I've liked it here, but you have to find out what both sides need,'' he said. [ep
For the second year in a row, Carroll stepped into the breach when the Tribe needed help. Going into Friday night's game against the Royals, Carroll was batting .285 with two home runs, 22 RBI and 45 runs in 256 at-bats. [ep
In 2008, Carroll made 18 starts at third and 66 starts at second, playing the positon for five weeks when Asdrubal Cabrera was sent to the minors to repair his swing. Carroll ended the season with 347 at-bats, a .277 average with one homer, 36 RBI and 60 runs. [ep
Many utility players who are forced to play every day eventually founder, because the more they play the more weaknesses are uncovered by opposing pitchers. That has not happened in Carroll's two years with Cleveland. [ep
""When you play regularly, you get a chance to battle through the struggles that are going to happen every year,'' he said. ""Being out there every day has allowed me to fight through those struggles.'' [ep
Carroll seems content to finish out the season before he and the Tribe address next year. [ep
""I just want to play as hard as I can for the next three weeks,'' he said. ""If I do that, everything will take care of itself.'' [ep
SMITH UPDATE -- Joe Smith (sore knee) is throwing again, but manager Eric Wedge does't know when he will return to the bullpen. [ep
""He's still playing catch, but he hasn't thrown off a mound, and he needs to do that a few times,' Wedge said. [ep
Smith has had a difficult time staying on the field. First there was an illness in spring training followed by several injuries, including a strained rotator cuff. [ep
""It's been a tough year for Joe,'' Wedge said. ""But he was really getting locked in lately. He was throwing the ball like we hoped he would.'' [ep
Smith hasn't pitched since Aug. 29, but 21 of his past 24 appearances (221/3 IP) have been scoreless. [ep
ANALYZING PEREZ -- In talking about the struggles of Rafael Perez, Wedge said, ""He gets himself into situations and his slider and fastball flatten out. I think that's why he's had so much trouble with left-handers. Something goes wrong and it dominoes on him.'' [ep
Left-handers are batting .405 against Perez (a lefty). Right-handed batters are hitting .304. [ep
PLAYOFF UPDATE -- Mahoning Valley swept Brooklyn in the first round of the New York-Penn League playoffs, winning both games 3-1. [ep
Clayton Cook worked 52/3 scoreless innings in the opener, and this year's second-round draft pick, Jason Kipnis, homered. In the second game, Vidal Nuno pitched five shutout innings, allowing one hit, and Kipnis homered. [ep
The Scrappers will play either Staten Island or Lowell in the best of three set. [ep
You know how sometimes you can tell a ball that's just been hit is a no-doubt home run right off the bat? You know, that certain sound of the ball hitting the bat right on the sweet spot?
That was the familiar sound that echoed across Canal Park in the fourth Thursday, when Aeros catcher and Eastern League MVP Carlos Santana jumped on the first offering of the inning by Reading starter Yohan Flande, sending the ball deep to left field and into the canal that runs beyond the outfield wall.To read more or comment...
The top of the ninth of the Texas Rangers' 10-0 win over the Indians Wednesday was almost comically bizarre. More to the point, it was a microcosm of Rafael Perez's troubled season.
It started with Esteban German's ground ball that hit the back of the third base bag and bounced crazily away for a double. Julio Borbon slapped an easy bouncer to the right of the mound that eluded Perez's glove for an error.To read more or comment...
Reading pulled a page out of the Aeros postseason handbook as the Eastern League Southern Division Playoff Series began Wednesday evening at Canal Park.To read more or comment...
Akron native and Greensboro Grasshoppers Vice President of Baseball Operations, Katie Dannemiller, was named the 2009 Female Executive of the Year in the South Atlantic League Wednesday.
Dannemiller, who recently wrapped up her 13th season in baseball and stopped by Akron's Canal Park to say hello to old friends, earned the award for the second time in just four seasons with the Grasshoppers.
Prior to joining the Greensboror staff, Dannemiller worked in several capacities in the Cleveland Indians’ minor leagues system.
During Dannemiller's four seasons in Greensboro, the Grasshoppers have consistently ranked in the top 25 teams in Minor League Baseball for attendance.
Additionally, the Hoppers have been the proud recipients of the South Atlantic League’s Club Merit Award all four seasons since her arrival, while snagging Minor League Baseball’s prestigious Bob Freitas Award during the 2008 season.
The Grasshoppers finished the 2009 season with an attendance of 406, 549 and have welcomed over 2,124, 043 fans to NewBridge Bank Park, drawing over 400,000 fans in each of its first five years at the new downtown ballpark.
After a day off to rest Tuesday, the recharged Aeros begin play in the Eastern League Southern Divisional Series beginning Wednesday night at Canal Park.
The Aeros, who have been in the postseason the last five consecutive seasons, are looking to add a third championship title to the ones earned in 2003 and 2005.
The Aeros head into the playoffs with a season-high eight-game winning streak and at a season-high 36 games over .500. Their 89 wins are the second most in franchise history (the 2002 club won 93 games).
While Reading had to put up quite a fight just to earn the division wild card, word is they may be bringing back EL Rookie of the Year Michael Taylor, their All-Star outfielder who has spent the second half of the season in Triple-A.
AKRON AEROS 9, ERIE SEAWOLVES 3 KEY STATS: The Aeros ride an eight-game winning streak into the post season, having completed a four-game sweep of Erie to wrap up regular-season play...With the victory, the Aeros finished with the second-highest win total in franchise history, behind the 2002 squad that racked up 93 wins...1B Beau Mills extended his hit streak to a season-high 10 games with a third-inning double...Erie 2B Shawn Roof hit his first career home run, but it didn't quite make up for the two errors he committed. KEY MOMENTS: The Aeros took a 2-0 lead in the first inning with the aid of two Erie errors...Roof's rare homer put the SeaWolves on the board in the second inning, but Akron CF John Drennen hit his first of two home runs on the day in the bottom of the inning...Akron exploded for a five-run fourth inning - including a record-tying two-run home run by C Carlos Santana. STORM'S STARS: Santana continues to show why he is indeed the Indians top prospect and Drennen is getting hot at just the right time. UP NEXT: The Aeros completed the regular season against visiting Erie (Detroit Tigers) Monday, setting the stage for the Eastern League Southern Division Series against Reading that begins Wednesday at Canal Park at 7:05 p.m. Right-hander Josh Tomlin (14-9, 4.16 ERA) will start the Aeros in Game One. RADIO: WARF (1350 am).To read more or comment...
The Cleveland Indians have recalled catcher Lou Marson from Triple A Columbus. He will be in tonight's lineup.
Marson, wo was acquired in the Cliff Lee trade with the Philadelphia Phillies, will be in tonight's lineup against Texas. Carlos Carrasco, who was acquired in the same trade, will be pitching tonight for the Indians.To read more or comment...
CLEVELAND: Michael Brantley knows his father is watching and for him, that's a good thing.
Mickey Brantley batted .259 in a four-year big-league career with the Mariners, finally ending his playing days with a stint in Japan. He moved on to coaching and managing in the Giants and Mets farms systems before briefly landing a job as hitting coach in Toronto.To read more or comment...
AKRON AEROS 4, ERIE SEAWOLVES 3 KEY STATS: The Aeros victory was the team's 88th of the season, tying them with 2003 club for the second-most wins in a season...In other league news, after being no-hit through six innings Sunday, Reading put up six runs in the seventh inning for a 6-0 victory over host Connecticut to claim the Southern Division Wild Card...After Monday's game, the Aeros have Tuesday off before Reading comes to Akron to begin the best-of-five division playoffs.
PLAYOFFS SET: In addition to the Akron/Reading matchup, host New Britain topped Trenton 6-4 Sunday to set the Northern Division Playoffs as division winner Connecticut will host New Britain for Games One and Two beginning Wednesday. KEY MOMENTS: The Aeros used the longball early - including back-to-back sixth-inning homers by DH Carlos Santana and 1B Beau Mills - to play to a 3-3 tie...With two outs in the seventh inning, C Armando Camacaro singled up the middle. He then took second on a delayed steal and came home on a pair of throwing errors, representing the winning run. STORM'S STAR: Camacaro is overshadowed on most nights, understandably, by top prospect Santana. But his veteran leadership and savy sense for the game makes him invaluable. He has also thrown out a potential base stealer the lasat two games. UP NEXT: The Aeros wrap up the regular season today against visiting Erie (Detroit Tigers) today at Canal Park at 1:35 p.m. Aeros left-hander Scott Barnes (1-2, 6.66 ERA) and SeaWolves left-hander Ramon Garcia (4-3, 5.76 ERA) are the scheduled pitchers. RADIO: WARF (1350 am).
AKRON AEROS 5, ERIE SEAWOLVES 4
KEY STATS: With Reading's double-header sweep of Connecticut and Akron's walk-off win over Erie, the SeaWolves were eliminated from the playoffs.
CLEVELAND: It's no longer news that Grady Sizemore needs arthroscopic surgery to clean out the inflammation beneath the lining of the left elbow.
But it came as a surprise Friday to learn that Sizemore also will undergo an operation for a condition known as athletic pubalgia.To read more or comment...
Aeros starting pitcher Jeanmar Gomez now has another bullet point for his impressive 2009 resume: being named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year.
Since the right-hander's perfect game in May is still being talked about, adding a league honor is mere icing on the cake for the standout season by the native of Caracas, VZ.To read more or comment...
DETROIT: Not surprisingly, Michael Brantley's major-league debut will be indelibly etched in his memory.
""It was an unbelievable experience,'' he said after starting in left field for the Indians Tuesday night and connecting for two singles. ""It's something you only do once, and you'll never forget it.To read more or comment...
As expected, Aeros manager Mike Sarbaugh was named the 2009 Eastern League Manager of the Year Wednesday.
In just his second season as manager with Double-A Akron, Sarbaugh (who also previously served as the team's hitting coach for four seasons in 2000-03), guided the squad to a league-best record of 83-53, as the Aeros just claimed a fifth consecutive postseason berth.
Sunday, the Aeros clinched the regular-season E.L. Southern Division crown. With six days remaining in the regular season, the Aeros own a 11.5-game lead over second place Reading.
DETROIT: Will there be opportunities for the Indians' September call-ups to make an impression, or are they destined to be mere window dressing?
Emphatically, manager Eric Wedge said that right-hander Carlos Carrasco and outfielder Michael Brantley will play. Right-handed reliever Jose Veras, who was with the Tribe earlier in the year, also was summoned from Triple-A, but his prospects for seeing much action probably will be limited.
Carrasco and Brantley, both 22, made their major-league debuts Tuesday night against the Tigers, Carrasco as the starting pitcher, Brantley as the left fielder. ¶
""It's always exciting to see somebody's first game in the big leagues,'' Wedge said. ""If you don't get excited about that, you should leave he game.'' ¶
Carrasco was part of the deal that sent Cliff Lee to the Phillies. Apparently, Wedge will get him regular starts by periodically resting other starters. ¶
Brantley came to Cleveland from the Brewers as part of the trade that sent C.C. Sabathia to Milwaukee. This year, he batted .267 with 80 runs 21 doubles and 46 steals (in 51 tries) for Columbus and is tied for the International League lead in steals. ¶
""We're going to try adnd give him as much regular work as possible,'' Wedge said. ""It will depnd on some other guys as ewell as on him.'' ¶
That was Wedge's cryptic way of saying that Grady Sizemore has played in pain long enough. Sizemore has been fighting the effects of inflammation in the lining of his left elbow for months, possibly since the beginning of the season. ¶
It was decided weeks, if not months, ago that he would undergo arthroscopic surgery to correct the ailment after the season. It is an operation that includes a four to six week recovery period, so it should not delay the start of spring training for him. ¶
""Grady isn't exactly 100 percent,'' Wedge said. ""We might shut him down early. That would give Matt LaPorta a chance to play right field with Shn-Soo Choo getting some time at DH. Brantley then would be able to play center and right.'' ¶
Asked if the date of Sizemore's surgery would be moved up, Wedge said, ""We're working through that right now.'' ¶
Veras struggled in his first stint with the Tribe, compiling a 1-1 record and 7.62 ERA in 12 appearances (13 IP) before being designated for assignment Aug. 5. He went unclaimed on waivers and accepted an assignment to Triple-A. ¶
Why did the Indians want another look at Veras? ¶
""We like his arm and we like his stuff,'' Wedge said. ¶
ALL CLEAR -- Travis Hafner underwent an MRI scan of his left shoulder in Cleveland Monday and received permission to return to the lineup. ¶
""They said it was a strained muscle but I can play tomorrow,'' he said. ""It's been sore for awhile, but it got worse in Baltimore.'' ¶
Hafner sat out the last two games against the Orioles, rested the shoulder on Monday's off day and Tuesday night against the Tigers. ¶
ON THE ROAD AGAIN -- Trevor Crowe remains on the disabled list with a strained oblique, but he rejoined the team in Detroit. ¶
""He's ready to get more involved in baseball activity,'' Wedge explained. ¶
To Crowe, it's as if he's been released from prison. ¶
""It feels like Christmas to me,'' he said. ""I've been doing my work at nine in the morning (at Progressive Field) and getting done at noon. Then I go home, watch some TV and go to bed early. It's been extremely boring.'' ¶
The highlight of Crowe's day usually is watching the Indians on TV. ¶
""When (Andy) Marte hit that home run (to beat the Orioles Thursday night), I got all pumped up for him,'' Crowe said. ""Everybody in the room is going, "Why are you getting so excited?' '' ¶
Crowe is guessing that he will be activated by some time next week. ¶
""I want to see him work today and tomorrow before we decide when he can come back,'' Wedge said. ¶
HONOREE -- Jhonny Peralta has been selected as the Tribe's nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award. ¶
He is one of 30 nominees for the national award that is given to the player who excels on the field and contributes to the community. ¶
Peralta and his wife Molly volunteer time and resources to many local organizations, including the Special Olympics, Lakeshore Day Camp and Cleveland Indians Charities. ¶
MINOR DEAL -- The Indians have traded left-hander Bobby Livingston to the Pirates for cash. Livingston, who was dealt to the Tribe from Baltimore, was 1-0 with a 3.13 ERA in four appearances (three starts) at Columbus. ¶
FARM FACTS -- Bo Greenwell had three hits, and T.J. House (5-11, 3.30 ERA) gave up four runs in five innings, as Lake County fell to Delmarva 6-5. *elip Jason Kipnis and Greg Folgia each had two hits and two RBI in Mahoning Valley's 8-4 win over Williamsport. Brett Brach gave up two earned runs (three total) in six innings. ¶