Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Remain calm

Don't overreact to the Scott Lewis implosion in Tuesday's game. Yes, it's the second consecutive egg laid by Lewis since he was told he had won a spot in the Indians' opening day rotation. But that's not an unusual spring training scenario for a young player. I've seen it happen several times in past springs. A player plays well enough to earn a spot on the roster, then as soon as he does his performance takes a dramatic turn for the worse.

Let's wait until Lewis gets a few starts into the regular season before passing any judgements. Even his 4-0 record last September is suspect because many baseball people will tell you the two worst times to evaluate players is spring training and September. That's not to say Lewis gets a pass going into this season. Far from it. In fact it wouldn't be a surprise to see Lewis struggle early this sesaon. If he does, the question then becomes how quickly can he make the necessary adjustments in order to improve his performance?

The last three spots of the Indians' rotation - Carl Pavano, Lewis, and Anthony Reyes - will bear watching all season. There are injury issues and lack of track record issues with those three pitchers that suggest that the Indians will likely need contributions from as many as eight or nine different starting pitchers this year in order to remain in contention all season.

A few notes off the top

Reliever Edward Mujica, who did not make the opening day roster, is out of minor-league options, meaning the Indians will have to put him on waivers at the end of the week, and can outright him to Columbus only if he clears waivers unclaimed. The 24-year-old Mujica was 3-2 with a 6.75 ERA in 33 appearances for the Tribe last year.

The Indians announced that the team's home opener April 10 vs. Toronto is officially a sellout. It's the 16th consecutive opening day sellout at Progressive Field since the ballpark opened in 1994.

Although the Indians have finalized their 25-man opening day roster Wedge said the club will take infielders Graffanino, Wilson Valdez, and Andy Marte, plus catcher Damaso Espino with them to Houston, for the final two spring training games Friday and Saturday at Houston. Those four players will then report to Columbus.

In today's final spring training home game at Goodyear, the Indians will host Seattle. Scott Lewis will start for the Tribe. Also scheduled to pitch are Joe Smith, Masa Kobayashi, and Jensen Lewis. Chris Jakubauskas will start for the Mariners.