Seventeen final thoughts for the 17 hits the Indians lashed against the Brewers at Goodyear Ballpark.
1. The only surprise as the final roster was set was that Danny Salazar will be the Tribe’s No. 4 starter and Carlos Carrasco No. 5.
2. That was a surprise of the Indians’ own making considering how slowly and carefully they have been in bringing Salazar to the big leagues. That shows how much they value the 24-year-old with the 100 mph fastball.
3. They chose Salazar to start the Indians’ home opener April 4, which means they think he can handle big moments. It probably won’t be as big as Oct. 2, when he took the mound for the American League Wild Card Game against the Tampa Bay Rays and got the decision in a 4-0 loss.
4. But if the Indians hope that Salazar will one day be their ace, they might as well expose him to pressure situations now.
5. They certainly didn’t make Salazar No. 4 just on the basis of when he’d make his first start. Carrasco was inconsistent this spring, abandoning his aggressiveness when he started to get hit, and was out-pitched by Josh Tomlin, who will start for Triple-A Columbus.
6. Salazar on his spring: “Healthy, strong, that’s all that matters. I’m ready for the season.”
7. The most telling comment Indians manager Terry Francona said about Carrasco was, “I think we all understand why we made the decision.” That says to me that it was all about Carrasco being out of minor league options.
8. General manager Chris Antonetti said of Carrasco, “We’ve asked a lot of Carlos this spring. He’s working on some delivery adjustments. It’s hard to be working on things and competing at the same time. He’s balanced those pretty effectively. There are times he’ll be dominant and other times he’s been less consistent.”
9. If Carrasco continues that inconsistency, he’ll find himself in the bullpen and Tomlin will be No. 5.
10. Antonetti was impressed with Tomlin’s reaction. “Incredibly professional, respectful, thoughtful,” Antonetti said. “Often times when you give players news they’re not going to make the major league team, the conversation shuts down. Their head is spinning, they start thinking about what this means, ‘Where am I going to go? What am I going to do with my apartment? How am I going to get my stuff there? Where’s my family going to be?’ Josh is one of those few guys who was able to compartmentalize it. He said, ‘I understand the news.’ Then we talked for probably 15 minutes about his circumstances, goals for Columbus, the workload issue.”
11. Tomlin pitched only two innings for the Indians in 2012 after undergoing right elbow reconstruction in August, 2012. Antonetti said his innings will be monitored in Columbus.
12. “If you were to ask Josh, he’d say absolutely not. That’s the competitor he is,” Antonetti said. “We try to make sure we have a longer term view on it. There is no innings limit, no hard and set rules for him, but we want to make sure we’re smart about it. We don’t want to look up in three months or four months or six months and say we were too aggressive. What we will look for is any signs of fatigue, whether that’s change in stuff, change in arm slot, soreness in different places. I think Josh would prefer to have the reins completely off, be completely unrestricted in April, but as we explained to him we don’t do that with any pitcher. Guys don’t come out throwing six innings and 90 pitches.”
13. Francona still said he’s not sure who will bat leadoff against the A’s on Monday. I’m coming around to the idea of using center fielder Nyjer Morgan there, especially since Francona continues to say that Michael Bourn won’t miss much time as he rehabs his left hamstring strain. If Bourn, who will start on the disabled list, is going to sit out only the required four games, it seems like Francona wouldn’t want to disrupt the batting order.
14. Francona said he values on-base percentage over speed at the top of the lineup, but Morgan can provide both. Morgan has a career .341 OBP along with his 117 steals in four years of major league service.
15. Heading to San Diego tomorrow night. Friendly people I’ll miss from spring training: Penny in the Goodyear Ballpark media dining room, Teresa, who checks passes and tickets on the second floor of the park, and the staff at Carrabba’s in Avondale. Teresa may be the happiest person I’ve ever met.
16. Wind gusts were so strong in Goodyear that the Indians videographer used a hairy wind sock on the microphone that looked like something from the Muppets for Francona’s brief post-game press conference. Francona took one look at it and said, “Don King.”
17. Francona’s late night food stories are so hilarious that I’ve started to compile a list. Tuesday night he said he feel asleep with a slice of pizza on his chest.