Great stuff, Bean. Could use more Bryce Harper, though.
And what is becoming a spring tradition almost as good as the Major League DVD, Castro's Excruciating Minutiae is back.
Russell Branyan will be here Tuesday to take the physical examination that would complete his one-year, $2 million deal with the Indians. It's no slam dunk, of course, as the Indians are rigorous in their demands for such an exam and Branyan dealt with a back problem that sidelined him the last month of the '09 season in Seattle. But all reports indicate that Branyan has made significant progress with the back.
How are the Indians planning to use Branyan? That's a bit of a mystery, and Manny Acta wasn't coughing up any clues. "Let's wait until everything becomes official," Acta said. "Then we'll answer all those questions."
It could be that the left-handed Branyan and the right-handed Matt LaPorta share first base. Or LaPorta could go back to left field and bump Michael Brantley, who might be due for a little more seasoning at Triple-A Columbus. Or maybe Branyan bounces around between first base, third base and left field (though he hasn't played third since 2008 and the outfield since 2007, so that seems a bit doubtful).
Acta has indicated all winter that LaPorta will see the bulk of his time this season at first base, because that's where his big league future lies. However, every time I asked Mark Shapiro about LaPorta, Shapiro said left field remains a possibility for him, depending on what the Indians do this winter. Keep in mind that LaPorta hadn't played first in his professional career prior to last season, and he was still a work in progress at the position at season's end.
In a perfect world, who would be Acta's first baseman? "In a perfect world," he said, "Albert Pujols."
Regarding second base, Acta said Luis Valbuena enters camp as the everyday starter at the spot, and he's interested in seeing how Valbuena fares against left-handed pitching in Cactus League play. "We're not in the business of developing platoon players at 24 years old," Acta said. "We're going to give him opportunities [against lefties]."
Acta said Jake Westbrook, nearly two years removed from Tommy John surgery, should have no restrictions this spring.
Nearly every member of the 59-player spring roster (Branyan would make 60) is already here, even though position players aren't due to report until Wednesday and the first full-squad workout won't take place until Friday. "I'm excited," Acta said. "For me to show up a week before pitchers and catchers report and to see [Travis] Hafner, [Grady] Sizemore, [shin-Soo] Choo and [Asdrubal] Cabrera on the field one week before they're supposed to be on the field excites me."
By the time I arrived at the complex around noon local time today, virtually all of the players had shuffled out. I'm told it was a light workout day, with much more activity on Saturday. The big league coaching staff went into a meeting at 2 p.m. that was expected to last several hours.
The Indians are wearing new batting practice caps this year. No Chief Wahoo. No script "I." These blue caps feature the old-school, block "C" in red lettering, with a red brim.
Speaking of uniforms, if you're looking to run out and buy an Acta jersey, he's wearing No. 11. The No. 14 he wore in Washington is spoken for in these parts. It's Larry Doby's retired number.
As you may have seen on the Indians.com site, Jeremy Sowers' rotation hopes will probably take a hit because of the left shoulder inflammation he's dealing with. He said the shoulder gave him some trouble off an on throughout the '09 season, and he came here a month early to get treatment for it. Sowers estimated that he'll be "a couple weeks" behind his teammates in camp, which has to hurt his chances of a starting job. Acta estimated that Sowers will be "a week to 10 days" behind.
Even if he doesn't make the rotation, Sowers, who is out of Minor League options, might have a chance of landing in the bullpen, though his stuff is hardly suited for the role. Still, given the expected problems in the rotation this season, I wouldn't rule out the possibility of the Indians carrying a guy like Sowers as a long man.
Shin-Soo Choo says he hopes to participate in the 2010 Asian Games in November. If the South Korean baseball team wins the gold medal in that event, its members would likely receive an exemption from their two-year obligation to the Korean military. Obviously, that's something that appeals to Choo. He's spoken about this situation with the Indians, and it will likely be revisted at season's end. He'd like to get their permission to participate. Here's the full story on Choo.
Top prospect Carlos Santana, who had surgery to remove a broken hamate bone in his right hand in December, said he has no restrictions and should be ready to play when the Cactus League season opens next week. It will be interesting to see if Santana's power is affected by that surgery this season.
Jhonny Peralta's been around here long enough to know that players often get moved in the final guaranteed year of their contracts. And given Peralta, who is due to make $4.6 million this year, is in the final guaranteed year of his contract, he's curious to see what happens. "I don't know what they're going to do," he said, "but I want to be here. I don't know what's on their mind. There's nothing I can do about it. I'll just try to play how I play."
Peralta became a father over the winter. His wife Molly gave birth to a daughter, Analise, in October. "It's a great experience," he said of fatherhood.
Peralta still sounds a bit mystified over how the third base situation played out last year. "In Spring Training, they didn't say to me that I'd be playing third base [during the season]," he said. "Then one day in the middle of the season, they say I'm playing third base."
Anthony Reyes, who had Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery and an ulnar nerve transposition surgery last June, said his arm feels stable and strong. He's throwing long toss right now. He's not sure when he'll start throwing off a mound. Reyes probably won't be a big league option until July, at the absolute earliest.
Chris Gimenez raved about his Venezuelan winter ball experience. He left for Venezuela in November, just eight days after he and his wife, Kelly, were married. "I told my wife [going to winter ball] was our honeymoon," he said. "She probably loved that. ... I was a little worried about here down there, a tall, skinny white girl walking around. But everything went great." Gimenez admitted he needed the winter ball grooming time because he found his offensive performance in the second half last year to be "embarrassing."
Gimenez is still being groomed as a super utility type. He's probably one of the guys on the bubble when/if the Indians have to clear a spot on the 40-man for Russell Branyan.
Speaking of Branyan, I'd expect that deal to be made official on Wednesday, if he passes Tuesday's physical exam. It usually takes a day to process the results of those tests.
Jamey Wright is roughly 9 feet tall, give or take a few feet.
The pre-camp meetings the began today serve to let a player know where he stands coming into the season. Acta said he didn't have these meetings in Washington, but he loves the idea. "It's tremendous," he said. "It's a step toward building communication and making things clear to every one of the guys."
The pitchers and catchers will hold their first official workout Tuesday morning. Position players officially report Wednesday, even though they all seem to be here already.