March 31, 2011 in Uncategorized
CLEVELAND — Fausto Carmona will make his first Opening Day start in his first full season as an ace today when the Indians host the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field.
After watching the right-hander bounce back from consecutive subpar seasons last year, manager Manny Acta thinks Carmona is up to the task on both fronts.
“I think he’s in a better spot confidence-wise,” Acta said of Carmona, who went 13-14 with a 3.77 ERA over 33 starts in 2010. “He had a tremendous season last year. He won 13 games for us, and this was a team. There was a lot of times that he pitched very well and didn’t get the win.
“Fausto will be fine.”
Carmona, who was unavailable for comment prior to a workout at Progressive Field on Thursday, was a Cy Young candidate in 2007 before enduring back-to-back seasons of struggles.
His performance last year seemed to signal a return to form, which was strengthened by a positive spring training effort from Carmona (5-2, 3.72 ERA in seven starts).
His No. 1 starter status will get an early test today, when he squares off against White Sox ace Mark Buehrle, a veteran left-hander who has been tough on the Indians in the past.
“He makes it tough for just about everybody,” Acta said of Buehrle, who beat the Indians on Opening Day last season, making the defensive play of the year at Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field. “He’s been doing it for a long time.”
Right-hander Chris Perez was one of the most effective relievers in the American League last year. The trick is to do it again.
“This year is probably more important than last year,” Perez said, “just to validate what I did last year, that it wasn’t a fluke.”
As a parttime closer last year, Perez saved 23 games, posting the second-lowest ERA (1.71) among AL relievers. At 25, he will enter this season as a fulltime closer for the first time in his career.
“He had been lights out since Day One,” Acta said during spring training. “I can’t wait to hand him the ball in the ninth inning.”
Acta said Grady Sizemore (microfracture surgery left knee) would continue to play center field every other day in minor league games in Arizona, increasing his innings count from the five he is at now until he gets to nine.
The three-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove award winner will continue his rehab either in Arizona or with one of the minor league affiliates, depending on the weather.
“After that, we’ll see where we’re at,” Acta said. “We can’t put a timetable on when he’s going to be here.”
Sizemore has predicted that he will be back before May.
Prior to the workout, Acta attended the public memorial service for Indians legend Bob Feller in Cleveland Heights.
“What a man,” Acta said of Feller, who left baseball in the prime of his career to serve in World War II. “It’s too bad that the majority of young people don’t know what Bob Feller meant to America and baseball. He gave his life to his country and to baseball.
“I don’t know too many players that would give up four years of their career to voluntarily serve in Afghanistan. That’s something we all have to value.”
It was good news bad news for outfielder Trevor Crowe and his ailing right shoulder.
Crowe, who hit .251 in 122 games for Cleveland last year, is scheduled to undergo surgery on the shoulder Saturday and will miss at least four months. He avoided reconstructive surgery that would have sidelined him for 6-8 months.
“It wasn’t as serious as we thought,” Acta said.
Carmona and Buehrle will open the season today at 3:05 p.m., followed by right-hander Carlos Carrasco vs. RHP Edwin Jackson at 1:05 p.m. Saturday.
Right-hander Justin Masterson will start the series finale Sunday (1:05 p.m.) against White Sox lefty John Danks.
Indians right-handers Josh Tomlin and Mitch Talbot will make their season debuts Tuesday and Wednesday against Boston at Progressive Field.
The Indians are 58-52 all-time in the home opener, with a 57-53 mark in the season opener.
(bullet) Feller’s victory total of four is the most by a Cleveland pitcher in home openers.
(bullet) The Indians have played to one-run games in 34 home openers, posting a 19-15 record.
(bullet) Carmona is the 56th different pitcher to start a home opener for Cleveland.
(bullet) This will be the 21st time the Indians have hosted the White Sox in the home opener, second-most behind the Tigers (32). Chicago has been the opponent in four of the last 10 home openers.
(bullet) Since moving to Jacobs/Progressive Field in 1994, the Indians have sold out all 18 home openers.
The Indians acquired minor league outfielder Bubba Bell from the Red Sox for cash considerations. Bell, 28, spent last season at Triple-A Pawtucket, where he hit .293 with six homers and 49 RBIs in 104 games. Bell, a career .292 hitter in six seasons in the minors (all with Boston), was assigned to Triple-A Columbus. … Today, 3:05, Channel 3/STO/WTAM 1100-AM/WEOL 930-AM.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or email@example.com.