Twenty final thoughts for the 20 hits the Indians banged out against the Padres at the University of San Diego’s Fowler Park.
1. When the Indians scored a touchdown (seven runs) in the first inning against the Padres and another touchdown in the second to take a 14-0 lead, it briefly crossed my mind that it looked like they were facing University of San Diego pitching, not the Padres.
2. Even though the game meant nothing, it showed the offensive firepower the Tribe can unleash when six or seven of its regulars get rolling. For the night, Ryan Raburn (.375), Asdrubal Cabrera (.358) and Yan Gomes (.255) each went 3 for 4. Raburn and Cabrera had four RBI, Gomes three. Cabrera and Gomes hit three-run homers as the Indians scored all their runs in the first three innings.
3. “You get in a ballpark like this where the ball is traveling and the infield’s fast, it’s a good night,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “With a quick turnaround tomorrow and the day off on Sunday, I wanted our guys to get some at-bats, but I really didn’t want to keep them out there. I think everybody got at least two at-bats and the regulars got four, that was good.”
4. Right-hander Zach McAllister (2-1, 5.75) went only four innings and gave up two runs on three hits. He struck out six and walked three. “I thought it was a tough game to pitch because he sat so long,” Francona said of the long innings. “He was at 90 pitches for four innings. It was a little bit of a struggle not to have so many deep counts. I think he’s throwing the ball fine. He’s just got to sharpen up on things and stay away from the longer innings.”
5. Reliever Blake Wood may have good stuff, but Francona said the 102 mph he hit on the scoreboard radar meter in the fifth inning was "off significantly.” When it was mentioned that the radar gun behind the plate was tuned up before the game with a tuning fork, Francona said, “It might have been kilometers or something. Even Zach threw a pitch and he was smiling, he hit 99.”
6. Francona didn’t understand why he received so many emails and text messages Friday afternoon. He didn’t realize that a national web site (I believe it was ESPN.com) headlined the story about him telling reliever Blake Wood he’d made the Opening Day roster on the mound.
7. “There must have been 20 emails and texts,” Francona said. “I had no idea what they were talking about and finally it dawned on me. They must have been hard-up for news. It was right behind Miggy signing.”
8. Francona appreciated the good wishes because making cuts is one part of the game he hates. “I hate that, the tougher conversations. You have to do it. You have an obligation to do it right,” he said. “Chris (Antonetti) and I will be talking about the message to the player. Once I have it, I say, ‘Chris, I don’t want it to be rehearsed.’ I don’t like the canned speech. I don’t think that works.”
9. Wood said he got the same reaction, lots of texts from his buddies about the way Francona delivered the news. "Definitely one of my better baseball memories,” Wood said. When it was suggested that the story might follow Wood throughout his career, Wood said, “You want to be well known for something. Hopefully it’s more for my playing than for that. But that’s a good thing to have.”
10. Francona definitely had an opinion about the Detroit Tigers giving Miguel Cabrera a $292 million contract extension. But he kept most of it to himself. “Believe me, when he’s standing in the batter’s box, that’s kind of how he feels sometimes,” Francona said, referring to the contract’s huge value.
11. Ex-Indians left-hander Scott Kazmir will start the second game of the Tribe’s season-opeing series in Oakland that starts Monday. Kazmir went 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA for the Indians last season, jump-starting his career. At age 28, Kazmir had been pitching in the Independent League. A free-agent in the off-season, the A’s signed him to a two-year, $22 million deal.
12. “I hope we beat his brains out, but I don’t think you’ll find too many people who aren’t happy for him,” Francona said. “His road, his comeback was pretty amazing. From where he was to signing the kind of contract he did, whether you want to pay him or not, whether we didn’t, you’ve still got to be happy for him.”
13. Francona said designated hitter/first baseman Jason Giambi, who suffered a fractured rib in his right side on March 7, is scheduled to take batting practice in Oakland Monday. On Friday, he hit in the cage and said he rehab is still on track.
14. That said, Francona said Giambi, 43, will need a rehab assignment. “He probably played in two or three games. At any age, without spring training is hard,” Francona said. The earliest Giambi can return from the disabled list, which he’ll be placed on retroactively on Sunday, is April 5, but it appears it will be longer than that.
15. Michael Bourn (on the DL with a strained left hamstring) may also be out a little longer than I expected. Like Giambi, he could return April 5, but will probably play a couple games in extended spring training (he remains in Arizona) or in the minors. Bourn is running the bases now.
16. Final decisions on the batting order for Monday’s season opener will come Sunday in Francona’s hotel suite in Oakland. He said there is a chance Nyjer Morgan will replace Bourn in center field. Francona said Raburn is swinging the bat so well he might be the DH, even against right-hander Sonny Gray.
17. Francona was impressed with the setting and the facilities at the University of San Diego’s Fowler Park. During his days at the University of Arizona from 1978-80, Francona said he played here in 1980, but there it was only a field then. The athletic complex is on a hill with expensive homes on the bluffs beyond.
18. “College baseball all over the place, they’re more like ballparks than fields,” he said. “North Carolina when my girls were there, wow, it’s like an upscale minor league ballpark. The facilities, the training room, the weight room, it’s pretty impressive.”
19. One more nugget on Nick Swisher wearing a replica of Giambi’s hitting-slump breaking thong underwear in Game 3 of the 2009 World Series in Philadelphia. Coming into the game, the New York Yankees’ Swisher was 4 for 35 in the playoff run. He went 2 for 4 with a home run and a double in a Yankees’ victory.
20. The Padres signed outfielder Jeff Francoeur to a minor-league deal after he was released by the Indians on March 22. “I think he’s got some big-league time left,” Francona said. “He looked good and he played pretty good and he’s a good kid. Things usually have a way of working out. He’s a pretty special guy.”