By Sheldon Ocker
Beacon Journal sports writer
CLEVELAND: There’s a chicken in the outfield.
When is the last time you heard that sentence at Progressive Field? But there really was a chicken in the ballpark during batting practice on Wednesday.
Justin Masterson carried it out of the dugout, and it wandered to the outfield. But why? Whose idea was it, and how did the chicken get from wherever it came from to downtown Cleveland?
None of the Indians would reveal the latter information. But the idea apparently originated with reliever Frank Herrmann, who isn’t even in Cleveland. He is recuperating from elbow reconstruction surgery but is known to have nicknamed fellow reliever Cody Allen “Chicken Al.”
When approached after Wednesday night’s game, Allen said, “Do you guys really want to talk about a stupid chicken?”
Inasmuch as the Tribe beat the Baltimore Orioles 6-4 to take the three-game set two games to one, the chicken had suddenly become a good luck charm.
“If we get on a roll, that chicken might be our mascot,” Ryan Raburn said. “I think we might want to get it a locker.”
But when the questions became more substantive — who, when, where, why, as applied to the chicken, Raburn clammed up.
“If I had something for you guys, I’d give it to you,” he said.
Indians manager Terry Francona said he liked the idea of his team bonding and having a good time, even if it’s because of a chicken.
“I actually love it,” he said. “They’re trying to have fun and that’s the best way to become a good team. It doesn’t mean we don’t take what we do seriously, because we do.”
Francona did express concerns that the chicken be treated well.
“I don’t need anybody calling from — what is it — OSHA or PETA,” he said.
Francona probably doesn’t have to worry about OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a branch of the U.S. Department of Labor.
No cause for alarm — There was nothing wrong with Raburn when he was taken out of Wednesday night’s game after the fifth inning.
Raburn returned to the lineup after spending 2½ weeks on the disabled list with a sore Achilles.
“We got him some at-bats against a lefty, and we got him off the field at a good time,” Francona said. “He’s still not 100 percent.”
Just in case — If the Indians, Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers and Orioles (or any combination of the two) deadlock for a wild-card spot, the Tribe holds the tie breaker against all three teams.
Other stuff — The Tribe has not lost the season series to the Orioles since 2006. … The Indians are 6-2 in Zach McAllister’s past eight starts. … The New York Mets, who begin a three-game series with the Indians tonight, will be making only their second visit to Progressive Field since the start of interleague play. … The Tribe will play 17 consecutive games before its next off day.
— Sheldon Ocker