I spent a day in Columbus over the weekend at the Clippers stunning new home - Huntington Park - and wanted to share some of the thoughts of manager Torey Lovullo regarding his team's new digs and various prospects as well as C-Town's new affiliation with the Indians.
Baseball folks might remember that Lovullo is a former Clippers player (1991-92) and the Aeros manager who guided the team to the 2005 Eastern League Championship. This season marks his eighth as a skipper in the Tribe's minor leagues.
Lovullo on Indians No. 2 prospect Matt LaPorta:
"He's been solid out there. He's got some work to do out there, but he's been great. He gets great jumps and is on the ground ready to move in either direction...He's come a long way defensively. He made a nice play down the right field line, he hits his cut off man and he's got a real nice arm. He's going to be a good player."
A good play in the outfield for now, as Lovullo hasn't heard of any plans for LaPorta to line up at first base.
"He's going to play left and right, that's what we've got in store for him."
Lovullo on left-handed pitcher Jeremy Sowers, who settled down after the first inning in Saturday's opener to allow just two runs over six innings while striking out eight Toledo batters in 3-1 loss.
"He started to throw his fastball and command it and also started to throw his secondary pitches at the botom of the zone. He didn't lose his composure out there, he did a great job. It's easy for a guy to come unraveled in that situation, but he's been around long enough to know. He had great mound presence and did a good job of holding them in check."
"The biggest thing for Jeremy is getting ahead of hitters. Strike one for Jeremy is so big because when he's 0-1, he's a totally different animal."
Lovullo on outfielder and ninth-best prospect Michael Brantley, who is listed as day-to-day with a hamstring injury and was pulled from Saturday's game after three at-bats:
"He tried to step on the gas there a couple times, he's been nursing a sore hamstring for about the past three or four days, and wtahcing him get down the line, I noticed he just couldn't give us the effort we're used to. And when I watched that ball in the right centerfield gap fall, I felt that was enough."
Lovullo on Columbus' new Indians affiliation:
"When Michael Brantley was introduced the crowd went wild. Then Matt LaPorta went out and the crowd went wild. I think these fans are very locked in to the Cleveland Indians and who these players are. At that moment there, I thought, 'We're home. In the state of Ohio, and these fans are very aware."
Lovullo on managing a young team as opposed to the usual Triple-A veteran squad:
"I might have a little more hands-on approach. I'm not going to let things get overlooked. I've always given the older players some leeway, and still will. But I won't hesitate to go to the young guys to talk with them. I won't let things linger. I'll jump right on it and make sure we address it right there on the spot.
"We're excited by the youth on this team. It's uncanny to have such a young team at this level. But they're competitive. This is a good team. And by the middle of the season, it's going to be a solid team."
Lovullo on left-handed pitchers David Huff and Jeremy Sowers:
"We feel David still has some developing to do, but they both are very qualified to go up to the big leagues and help out the Indians at any time. In Jeremy's situation, he's been there and had success and now it's just a matter of being consistent. For David, it's just a matter of getting some reps, going deep into ball games and continuing to develop. But David is still a very young pitcher, and we want to make sure that when he goes up there, he stays there and doesn't come back."