CLEVELAND: Nick Hagadone has returned to the Indians’ 40-man roster, but the fallout from being banished to the disqualified list hasn’t abated.
“I don’t want to get into specifics right now,” he said Friday. “It’s an ongoing process between the team and the players union, so when it’s handled I’ll be glad to tell you all about it.”
Hagadone made his major-league debut in 2011, pitching a handful of games for the Tribe. But he started last year at Triple-A before being summoned to the Indians for what turned out to be an abbreviated season of 27 relief appearances. His outing against the Tampa Bay Rays on July 6 turned out to be his last of the year.
Angry with himself after giving up two runs in two-thirds of an inning, Hagadone struck an object in the clubhouse, fracturing a bone in his left (pitching) wrist. That cost him the rest of the season. Club officials were not sympathetic about Hagadone’s foolish, though understandable, response to a sup-par performance and placed him on the minor-league disqualified list (because he was going to be optioned to Triple-A).
The disqualified list is used to discipline players who violate terms of their contracts. Not only can a team keep a player on the list for up to two years, but also while he is on the list the miscreant does not receive his salary or major-league service time.
Hagadone was removed from the disqualified list, but the Major League Players Association filed a grievance against the Indians, a procedure that remains ongoing.
According to Hagadone, he is not updated frequently on the process.
“Not really,” he said. “It’s kind of out of my hands.”
Receiving such harsh punishment from an employer is difficult to take in stride, particularly for a player with less than a year in the big leagues.
“It’s definitely something I think about a lot,” Hagadone said. “But I try to block it out and just focus on spring training. It’s a little bit tough to do, but I think I’ve done pretty well putting it out of my mind. There’s nothing I can do.”
Hagadone began throwing six weeks after breaking his wrist and because his season was shortened, he made a few appearances in winter ball, visiting the Dominican Republic for the first time.
“My time has been focused on being ready for spring training,” he said. “Going to the Dominican was a great experience. Baseball is different there. Every night it’s like you’re at a World Cup soccer game. It’s a lot of fun; the fans are really into it. They have their horns, and it’s really loud.”
Hagadone is considered one of the Indians’ brighter bullpen prospects, but he is a work in progress and will have to fight his way on to the seven-man relief staff. Last year, he posted a 1-0 record with one save and a 6.39 ERA. In 25⅓ innings, he struck out 26 but walked 15 and gave up four home runs.
As of now, the bullpen crew will consist of closer Chris Perez, setup man Vinnie Pestano, seventh-inning specialist Joe Smith and Matt Albers, with Bryan Shaw, Blake Wood and Cody Allen closer to locking up spots than Hagadone, David Huff or Scott Barnes.
But Hagadone, Barnes and Huff are the only left-handers in the bunch, which might give them a boost. And among the three lefties, Hagadone probably has a slight edge. Barnes struggled last year, and Huff has been a career starter whom Tribe operatives believe might work out better as a reliever.
Last season, the Tribe had two lefties in the bullpen: Tony Sipp and Rafael Perez, but both of them were deemed expendable over the winter.
“That’s another thing I don’t want to think about,” Hagadone said of being left-handed. “If I don’t pitch well, I’m not going to be on the team. What I’m focused on is throwing well.”
During the winter, Hagadone has concentrated less on mechanics than throwing the right pitch at the right time.
“My mechanics are pretty much the same,” he said. “It’s how I use my stuff — not throwing the same pitch all the time, throwing my fastball away [too often] and being too predictable.”
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.