Spring Game #7: Cabrera Injury, Carmona Dazzles

The Indians played to their second tie in as many games after the Angels mounted a three-run comeback in the ninth and promptly ran out of pitchers.

They were doing a split-squad game that day, so you can't blame them. The Indians sent two of their starters out to eat up six innings, so they had the arms.

The two starters they sent out are expected to be their top two starters in the rotation. Jake Westbrook made his second start of the spring and the results, numbers wise, were once again a little rough.

The good news is that Westbrook only walked once and he was much more pleased with this outing than he was with his first one.
"I gave up four runs, but I feel 100 percent better than when I gave up one run the last outing. I feel so much better, confidence-wise. It starts with getting my mechanics solidified," he said. "What I'm hoping is to get stronger and better each time out."
You see this all the time. Veterans like Jake go out there, they get pounded, but by the end of the spring, they figure it out. It's all part of the process of finding your groove, getting your mechanics ironed out, and commanding control of your pitches.

The thing we may see with Jake is that it takes him a little longer due to his long layoff from real game action.

I won't start worrying about him until he starts saying negative things about his performances.

Jake's Line: 3 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 4 SO

Westbrook gave up three runs in the first, all before recording an out, then got three in a row. He chalked up the home run ball to Napoli as a mistake, but the previous two hits pitches that Mathis and Willits put good swings on.

Relieving him was Fausto Carmona, who made his spring debut with a very encouraging three shutout innings.

Carmona's Line: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO

Fan-freaking-tastic. Manny Acta said he used all his pitches and the line's suggestion says he did exactly what the Indians want him to do. I keep looking at the walk number. If that number is down, I know Carmona is going to be good in that particular outing. The zero's in the run columns are nice, but I care more about the walk numbers and the zeros he puts up there.

There is no one that needs to follow the "Belcher Philosophy" of throwing early strikes than Carmona. He does that, he gets ahead and his breaking stuff is dangerous as all get out.

Speaking of dangerous breaking stuff, Rafael Perez did it again. That's three scoreless innings and not just three scoreless innings, but three untouchable innings.

In his three games: 3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 5 SO

Add in what he did in the Winter Leagues and there is some reason to believe that maybe, just maybe Perez could be back.

The words from Belcher about his slider are encouraging more than the numbers. I tweeted this last night, but if Carmona and Perez are going good, there is reason to believe the pitching isn't good to be as bad as some people think.

If the team can get both of these guys back and pitching well? Shoot... They've got some of the best pure "stuff" on the roster. Perez could be the best reliever and Carmona the best starter.

Ah that "If" word again though... So many ifs.

So... If we are a little excited about Rafael Perez and Fausto Carmona, then we at least have to be a little worried about Joe Smith so far.

The plan, and this was last year as well, is to get Joe Smith some action against lefites so he can prove he can handle them. That was derailed last year with the injuries, just as his season was. Well so far, no good. Smith surrendered a two-run shot to left-handed hitting Michael Ryan. Ryan Mount also knocked in the tying run from the left side of the plate.

Offensively, the club scratched across seven more runs. Sizemore, Choo, and Hafner, the middle of the order, knocked in two and scored one of the seven. Matt LaPorta made his second start of the spring and he had two at-bats this time around. LaPorta had the big two-run single in the third inning.

LaPorta's hit was the centerpiece of a third inning in which the Indians sent nine men to the plate. Other RBI's came from Andy Marte and Brian Bixler, who has seen a lot of his time in center field this spring. Bixler had two hits.

Mike Redmond also had two hits and scored a run.

Surrounding the efforts of Westbrook, Carmona, Smith, and LaPorta is the Indians' first injury scare of the spring. Asdrubal Cabrera left the game in the fifth inning after hitting a leadoff triple. He apparently injured his left leg diving back to third on a pickoff attempt. How often does a pitcher throw to third for a pickoff now a days?

Anyway it was a head first slide, which is puzzling considering his injury was to his left leg. Yet it has been classified as an "upper" leg injury, which could indicate something in the hamstring area, which makes pefect sense given the motion he would have taken in diving back to a base. You could tweak something like that when you push off your legs or make a sudden turn.

Acta said nothing more than a "a little pain in the leg" and the Indians are expected to divulge more information today. Anthony Castrovince reported no noticeable limp when Cabrera walked off the field and said it doesn't sound serious.

I wouldn't worry too much. But an injury to Cabrera is probably the last thing this team needs. There is no immediate answer at shortstop for this club.

Nick Hagadone is a name that is high on a lot of the prospect lists for not just the Indians, but the entire minor league system. He's routinely the guy after Chisenhall and Santana on Indians' lists and he's been in a few Top 100 rankings in all of baseball.

So it's understandable the Indians are trying to take it easy with him and the Tommy John surgery he's coming off of. Hagadone's progress from the operation has been a bit inspiring due to his work ethic and AC has a piece on Hagadone up at Indians.com. Ross Atkins also has a glowing quote about Hagadone's measurables.
"Right now, I feel as good as I did before I got hurt," he said. "I'm ready to put that injury behind me and just go forward with my career."

"He's incredible, physically," farm director Ross Atkins said. "Where he is is above the norm of all of our athletes. And mentally, as well. He's a very mature, smart individual and someone that has the ability to not only maximize his ability but take advantage of their resources." 
Hagadone is the biggest piece of that Martinez trade, just as Knapp is of the Lee deal. Masterson could turn out to be a nice player and I love his makeup, but Hagadone has the most talent. Some think late-inning reliever is a possibility for him, but with that stuff he has and the "high marks" he's received as a prospect, that should be the last option after starting rotation.

Jason Grilli will officially undergo surgery on Tuesday on his right quad in Colorado. Dr. John Steadman will perform the surgery and Grilli will miss the entire 2010 season. Best of luck to the Indians biggest representation on Twitter.

According to Ross Atkins, Lonnie Chisenhall maybe wouldn't have lasted to the second round. Cleveland perhaps stole Chisenhall right under Boston's nose in 2008.
"The Red Sox were all set to take him," said Ross Atkins, Indians director of player development. "We had the 29th pick and they had the 30th pick that year. They were all excited. They thought he'd fallen to them."
Chisenhall's story is so intriguing. You really believe this guy could have probably been a high first rounder if things stuck the course for him. And Atkins preaches that "wrong place, wrong time" thing in regards to Chisenhall's past issues. Given that we haven't heard a peep about Lonnie in regards to ANYTHING since being drafted, I'd have to say that is accurate. In fact, we've heard just the opposite and how responsive he was to learning from Travis Fryman and how he's adapted to third base.

And Steve Smith, had great things to say about Chiz's progress at third. Obviously, being an outsider, he didn't really know Chisenhall at all, but by looking at him, he didn't think he had played anywhere else.

Every team has an early riser. Orlando Hudson is at the Twins' complex before the sun comes up. Miguel Olivo has been getting to Colorado's camp early and completing all his work before anyone else even arrives.

Shin-Soo Choo might have topped them all, as he wakes up at 4:30 IN THE MORNING! The guy is in bed by 8:00 every night though. I've been on that sort of clock lately. Daylight savings might screw me up, a bit, but I'm right on track for work next week (6:00 wake up call, out the door in 20 minutes). I've skewed my clock up so much that I'm out by 10:30 and routinely up by 6:30, like I was this morning.

Choo is in the cages by 7:30 and he gets his personal time with Jon Nunnally. AC also notes that he's taken a liking to Mark Grudzielanek as he believes they share a similar swing. Who else feels the reasons to give Grudz a roster spot are just piling up day-by-day?

Tooooday... We try again with Texas at Goodyear. Sunday's game got rained out, and that rain has found it's way to NE Ohio. Better here I guess than there, for now. Texas and Cleveland try again from Goodyear and Justin Masterson is the one on the mound.

Masterson will go three and probably be followed by Kerry Wood. Wood will then most likely give way to Carlos Carrasco to make his spring debut. Carrasco will go three innings and this is his first live game action. He did pitch in Intrasquad games prior to this.

Tony Sipp is also slated to get into the game.

Aforementioned Lonnie Chisenhall will get a shot to hit the three hole today. He is the centerpiece of the lineup that will take on Brandon McCarthy and the Rangers.

CF Brantley, DH Sizemore, 3B Chisenhall, RF Kearns, 2B Valbuena, 1B Hodges, C Marson, LF Gimenez, SS Rivero

A very B-team like lineup today. Valbuena is all over the lineup this spring. I think it may be Acta's way of testing him. So far so good though. He's hit everywhere from second to at the bottom. It sure does depend on who is in the lineup of course, but Valbuena has probably seen the most shifting out of everyone this spring.

A lot of talk lately about the re-alignment idea that is floating around the game. I'll spare you the details as it makes me nauseated... But Rays Owner Stu Sternberg spoke out, sort of in favor the deal. He wants a balanced schedule and more wild card spots. Why wouldn't he, his team would get a chance to go to the playoffs more often in the AL Central if the proposed concept came into tact. I sort of would rather see Sternberg's suggestion of a balanced schedule more before what Selig is proposing.

Anyway I doubt something like this is coming, Bud Selig would have to pull a fast one to get this one to happen, but the first original re-alignment idea sort of came out in the offseason from ESPN's Hot Stove U series. Dave Schoenfield's words must have reaches Selig, because he seems to be interested. Here are the three "requirements" for the AL that are laid out in Schoenfield's idea of changing the divisions, EVER YEAR.
1. The Yankees and Red Sox always remain in the AL East. It makes sense and it's good for the game.
2. Tampa, Toronto, Baltimore, Detroit and Cleveland can play only in the AL East or AL Central. All five cities are in the Eastern time zone and having them play in the West creates logistical and television issues.
3. The Angels, Seattle and Oakland always remain in the AL West. This makes sense for logistical reasons, as well.

Selig's proposal however would result in the division shakeup occuring based off the fact that a team is "rebuilding" their geography and.. of course.. payroll.

How do you measure someone's intent though? Hey, We're building! Put us in the AL East!

Why would anyone in their right minds want that? Increased revenue for having more home games against the Yankees and Red Sox.

Blarg me...

Mark Shapiro is on this committe, so let's not forget that... The Selig proposal's gist...
One example of floating realignment, according to one insider, would work this way: Cleveland, which is rebuilding with a reduced payroll, could opt to leave the AL Central to play in the AL East. The Indians would benefit from an unbalanced schedule that would give them a total of 18 lucrative home dates against the Yankees and Red Sox instead of their current eight. A small or mid-market contender, such as Tampa Bay or Baltimore, could move to the AL Central to get a better crack at postseason play instead of continually fighting against the mega-payrolls of New York and Boston.

So they've dominated the AL East and the Wild Card spot the past few years... Is that really a reason to stick a "rebuilding" Cleveland club in that division to get beat up on?

What if this team does what I'm starting to think they can do, and that is play above expectations and a team they switch with, uhhh Baltimore, stinks up the joint? Your move just screwed a team.

If you want to re-align something, fine, do it once and be done with it. Don't go switching up this club's division every year based off "intent."

It's craziness. But this is an Indians blog, so I'll back off of getting into that discussion here. Take in mind though, it's just the product committee's "brainstorming" and is only a concept, not exactly something that is on the verge of happening.

Finally... It's good to see that some lovely comment makers at the Plain Dealer can find a way to turn something nice into crap. I don't read them often, but after I saw the story reproduced on the site about the essay contest winners, I wanted to see what they had to say.

First off.. If you didn't read this yet, go ahead and do it.

As AC said in his latest CastoTurf entry, baseball is somewhat of a job for him. For me, one day I'd love for it to be my job. Right now though, it's a bit of a passion. Reality is though, I go to school, I work, I have a bit of a life that I have to worry about before I can worry about baseball.

So in the end, right now, baseball is a bit of a distraction. It's something I can turn to when I need to take my mind off something. I can kick back and watch a baseball game... Or do what I did this morning and spend a good two hours reading stories from around the league.

For most fans though, it is a distraction. As evidence by this little bit from AC's story on the essay winners.
The Indians, though, are anything but trivial in Amy's family. Even when her father was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2004, the ballclub was his distraction. 

"The day we found out, my mom was upset and crying, and my dad said, 'I just want to watch the Indians,'" Amy remembered. "One of the last things I did with him was watch the Indians games with him that summer." 

In an era of instant highlights and high-definition broadcasts, the jaded among us can forget just how much it means for some people to soak in the simple beauty of a few hours at the ballpark. But in reading the 25 entries the Indians picked out from the hundreds of submissions, one remembers that baseball is more than just a game.

Yep... There it is right there... I say no more...

There were a few dumbos on CPD that made a few ridiculous statements about watching the Crushers and Captains instead of the Indians and talking about "free publicity" for the Indians. There was also someone on Indians.com that made a big stink about knowing one of the contest winners and claiming they weren't exactly in "finanical need."

Get a hold of yourselves. There is a time to be negative about the Indians (even though sometimes the CPD Commenting Crew is overly ridiculous with it, but I'll deal...) and this is not one of those times. Buck up and get the picture people.

This is baseball. For the diehards, we follow the team's every move and hang off every play. For a family like the one featured prominently in the stories linked, it goes beyond arguing about signing Russell Branyan and who should be the fifth starter in the rotation. So stop being morons and spreading your negativity towards the Indians and the good thing they did for some people who truly deserve something like this.

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