Pre Game Chatter: Martinez Could Rehab Soon; Olympic Update

Victor Martinez will continue to hit soft tosses until early next week when the team hopes to let him take regular Batting Practice. The goal is for him to be on a rehab assignment as the Indians get to Toronto for a 3 game series against the Blue Jays to wrap up the 9 game road trip.

Either way, he won't be a regular catcher anytime soon. The Indians won't chance it with his elbow. He'll see games behind the plate, but expect a lot of DH and 1B starts for Vic when he comes back. Not a problem with Kelly Shoppach mashing.

Speaking of DH's, Travis Hafner will have his strength test earlier than I thought. Lonnie Soloff will make the trip back to Cleveland on Thursday during the off-day to test Hafner's shoulder. If it's 75% (which it should be if the past indicates it correct), Hafner's rehab could be accelerated quite a bit.

Josh Barfield will be right behind Martinez as far as rehab is concerned. Barfield will take soft-tosses next week before taking BP in Toronto according to Soloff. He should be right on the heels of Victor in terms of a rehab assignment. Sounds like there is a definite timetable on J-Barf's return because they might be more familar with what they are dealing with.

Great story on the host family for a few of Mahoning Valley's Scrappers. Garret Rieck and Corteze Armstrong got the luck of staying at the house of the Zarick's. The Zaricks do it every year for the Minor League Players. That's awesome. There's nearly 15 familes that signed up to host Minor Leaguers for the Scrappers who have 30 total players at a time. Families such as the Zarick's and the Abell's do a great service. They get tickets to home games and cheaper team merchandise, but they pay from their own pocket to house these players.

Don't forget the Bixler's who aren't even baseball fans.

Patti Bixler still remembers meeting the four Venezuelan boys who pooled their money to rent an apartment and walked at least a mile back and forth to the ballpark because they didn't have a car.

She offered to house them all, but her husband Bob balked. So they took in Dennis Malave, who was the only one who could speak a little English; some kid named Victor Martinez; and found homes for the other two.

"We didn't have anything," said Martinez, the Indians' All-Star catcher. "No furniture, no nothing."

The players became so close to the Bixlers that they've remained in touch and refer to them as "Mom" and "Dad."

"It doesn't go more than a week [without talking]," said Malave, the Indians' bullpen catcher who visited the Bixlers on a recent off day. "It's not a host family anymore, it's my family."

Great stuff.

Tracking Matt LaPorta

Matt LaPorta went 1-4 with an RBI Double in last nights exhibition game against Canada. USA picked up the win and they play game 3 of four tonight at 5:00.

TJ Burton pitched 1.1 innings of scoreless ball. Nick Weglarz played but didn't get an At-Bat. He went 0-4 the previous night. Burton has pitched 2 total innings in the two games and has allowed just one hit while striking out two batters.

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