The Lineup Card: Adieu Arizona
GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Random thoughts and musings as we reach the end of spring training and a two-week stay in Arizona in a little something I will do throughout the season called The Lineup Card:
Leading Off — Spring’s Most Outstanding Player, Part I
Fresh off a team-leading .284 average last season and a four-year contract extension, Michael Brantley hit .522 in spring training and finished up with a seven-game hitting streak, going 13 of 20 with five doubles and nine RBI.
Brantley would be leading the Cactus League in hitting, but he didn’t have the required number of at-bats.
Second — Spring’s Most Outstanding Player, Part II
Considering the contract talk that dominated most of spring training, some might have expected Justin Masterson to struggle. Instead, the right-hander allowed only three earned runs in 24 2/3 innings. Teams hit only .171 against Masterson and the only slight criticism you could give were two wild pitches and three hit batters, but as I said it was slight.
Third — Got his mind right
Nick Swisher decided to shut things down for the first part of spring training, which ended up being a good move. Swisher will go into next week’s opening series at Oakland after he has gone 11 of 26 with two doubles, three home runs and four RBI in his last nine games.
Fourth — Kluber rebounding?
I was starting to get a little concerned about Corey Kluber’s spring, especially his struggles in the later innings, but the right-hander looked solid for six innings against the Diamondbacks on Thursday before tiring. Kluber held the Diamondbacks to just three hits through six before allowing a pair of runs on three hits in the seventh.
Fifth — The bullpen factor
The fact is we won’t know how good it will be until you go through the early-season scenarios, especially with John Axford. Trying to get a gage on any reliever during spring training is difficult because they pitch in the middle of games and aren’t in situations that they will be during the regular season.
BOTTOM OF THE ORDER
Sixth — Question of the week
How long will it be before Josh Tomlin is called up from Triple-A Columbus? It was only a couple days into last season that a starting pitcher ended up on the disabled list. Tomlin had a good spring but was caught up in numbers, the biggest one being zero, which was options remaining for Carlos Carrasco.
Seventh — Number of the week
2 — First pitches that Mike Hargrove has thrown in an Indians home opener. Hargrove, who will throw the first pitch to Sandy Alomar next Friday, also did the honors in 2004.
Eighth — Quote of the week
"That’s where the rat race began," Jason Giambi on returning to Oakland for the season-opening series. Giambi also expressed how much it meant to him that Terry Francona wanted him on the opening road trip instead of remaining in Arizona for extended spring training as he comes back from a rib injury.
Ninth — Adieu Arizona
I know a lot of people love Salt River Fields, but my favorite road park is Cubs Park in Mesa. From the old fashioned sign paying homage to Wrigley Field along the first-base line to all the amenities, it gives Salt River a run for best park in the Cactus League.