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A play-by-play guy trying to survive in a mid-major world

Archive for the day “June 6, 2009”

Charlie and a Sleeper Bus

The Indianapolis Indians pulled out of the Victory Field parking lot Friday night at 11:30 and rolled into Buffalo at 7:45 Saturday morning.  It was the first time the Indians used a sleeper bus.  The buses we normally take are your standard touring bus.  Each player gets their own pair of seats and when the trip is throughout the night you will see the guys stretched across the isle with their feet on the pair of seats across the way.  Let’s just say the overnight trips are uncomfortable, but everyone is used to bus travel.  Last night we jumped on a sleeper bus and the trip was fantastic.  The buses are larger than our normal bus and featured satellite TV (MLB network was the channel of choice) and wireless internet.  Here is a picture of the bus layout.

BUF 005.jpgThe front of the bus had a pleather couch and some other pleather seats surrounding a card table.  The space was large enough for 7 or 8 of us to lounge around the television set.  The rest of the bus featured the bed you see in the picture.  The beds were bunked in three’s and each had a television.  Here is a picture of my bunk.

BUF 006.jpgI’m 5’7-ish so I had no trouble fitting into the bunk.  From what I understand even some of our taller players (Ty TaubenheimCharlie Morton, and Garrett Jones) didn’t have any trouble fitting into their bunks.  To give you an idea of how much room I had…I could be on my back and when I bent my knees they were close to the bunk above me.  I never felt claustrophobic and for the most part slept from 2 o’clock on.  I would wake up when the bus took a corner or hit the rumble strips, but I’d travel like this everyday of the week. 

I had the bunk on the bottom and didn’t worry about falling out, but hitting coach Jeff Branson had the top bunk and he said when we would turn he would use his arm to brace himself.  I don’t think he was ever going to be tossed, but he was trying to sleep six feet off the ground.  I took an informal poll and the players really liked the sleeper bus.  Thanks to the Indians front office for taking a look at the sleeper bus. 

Pitcher Charlie Morton has taken over the “Mr. Popular” tag from the departed Andrew McCutchen.  Since Charlie arrived to Indy in the Nate McLouth trade he has had numerous interview requests from the Pittsburgh media.  I want to share with you a quote Charlie gave Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

“To be traded for somebody of that caliber, yeah, there’s pressure, there are expectations,” Morton said yesterday by phone from Indianapolis. “Every time I take the mound, that’s going to be on my mind. I don’t want to disappoint anybody. All I can do is prepare myself to pitch, do the best I can do and, hopefully, with the faith the Pirates have shown in me, do something with the opportunity.”

That is the exact same thing he told me after he pitched 7 shutout innings in his Indians debut Thursday night.  As a matter of fact BEFORE he took to the mound he told me that he didn’t want to disappoint the Pirates.  He appeared to really be shell shocked from the trade and is putting a lot of pressure on himself to prove his worth to the Pirates and their fans.  I shared with him what our coaches thought of him last year (they liked him a ton) and I told Charlie that the Pirates have been following him for quite some time.  Charlie was shocked by the trade.  He was getting ready to pitch Wednesday night in Rochester and before taking the field was pulled aside and told he wasn’t starting.  Charlie said about 15 minutes later he was on the phone with the Braves and told he was traded.  The next think he knew he was landing in Indy and walking into a strange new clubhouse.  Charlie said he didn’t see it coming.  As he was flying to Indy he felt like this could be a good move.  There isn’t any room in the Braves rotation and perhaps there will be a spot in the Pittsburgh rotation.

The radar gun at Victory Field during Charlie’s start on Thursday was not accurate.  Usually the in-house gun in dead on, but it was a little hot on Thursday.  Charlie didn’t hit 96 and 97, but did work consistently at 92 and 93 miles per hour.  The Indians coaching staff was really impressed and felt like he had better stuff than Braves prospect Tommy Hansen.  C’mon…you can’t be serious.  Branson told me when we faced Hansen on May 26th he only threw two of his four pitches for strikes.  Charlie threw all four of his pitches for strikes and pounded the zone with his fastball.  To be fair the Indians have only watched Tommy Hansen pitch once and I was told he was a little off that night.  So I don’t think they are pumping up the trade, but sharing what they saw from one start and from one start Charlie Morton was better than Tommy Hansen.

Indians Roster Update:  Pirates relief pitcher Donnie Veal is expected to join the Indians on Monday.  He’ll be with the team on a ML rehab assignment.  We were expecting Tyler Yates to join us, but apparently there has been a set back in his rehab and he will not be with the team in Buffalo.  

The Tribe is playing one player shy of the 24 man roster limit.  Neil Walker has not been placed on the disabled list, but he is not with the team in Buffalo.  Walker flew to Pittsburgh to have his left knee checked out.  On Tuesday night Walker dove into first base and he sprained his left pinkie finger.  We thought that was the only damage, but is appears he injured his left knee didn’t know that until he woke up the next day.  Walker could miss anywhere from 2-6 weeks depending on what needs to be done to his knee.  That’s a tough loss for the team.  Within one day the Indians lost McCutchen and Walker leaving two big holes in the line up.  

I’ll be taking some pictures of Coco-Cola Field in Buffalo.  For now here is a pic I took from shallow centerfield.

BUF 013.jpgI’ve gone this entire post without letting you know the Tribe 
won tonight 9-2.  The nine runs are three more than they scored the previous five games combined.  Eric Hacker was terrific limiting Buffalo to two runs on four hits over 7 innings.  That’s now three straight starters working 7 innings.  Add it up and Charlie Morton, Virgil Vasquez, and Eric Hacker have given up two runs over their combined 21 innings of work.        


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