Happy Memorial Day and it is a special day for baseball players. The Indians are lucky to play a kids game for a living and every player realizes their dream is possible thanks to the brave men and woman who protect this country. Today is a great day to enjoy a cookout and listen to a baseball game on the radio. Although I wish I was at home, today has always been one of my favorite days to call a game.
The Indians have arrived in Gwinnett and when the team heads south you can count on friends and family showing up at the park. A good percentage of players come from the south and trips to Charlotte, Atlanta, Durham, and Norfolk gives parents the perfect opportunity to see their sons play baseball. OF Kevin Melillo has lived in Charlotte the past five years and spent the weekend at his house. It was the first time in his career he played in Charlotte and he made it count. Kevin hit a pair of game changing home runs and received a standing O from the 35 friends and family who made the trip. “I could here them, but didn’t want to acknowledge them. I figured if I waved or smiled I would get the next pitch in the ribs, so it was best to just put my head down and head into the dugout.” There is some added stress with so many guests on the pass list. The surprising part is players are most relaxed when playing the game. It’s away from the diamond when family affects you the most. Players are habits of routine and day to day routines are affected when friends and family are in town. “Don’t get me wrong it is awesome to stay at home and be with my wife, but it’s tough to talk with some many people after the game. You’rer tired, but I have to give them your energy because they are there for you. I’ll miss it as soon as we go to Gwinnett.”
Hitting Coach Jeff Branson’s Major League career took him all over the country, but only a few times did he play in front of his family. “It’s hard because you have a job and that job requires you to prepare and your schedule is affected when family is in town. It’s different now as a coach, but when you are a player all you are trying to do is your best and the added distraction may take an edge away.”
C Luke Carlin was able to pay in front of his dad for the first time in a long time. “I can’t remember the last time my dad saw me play. My parents made a few trips to San Diego, Chicago, and Cincinnati, but I never got into the games.” Carlin’s family lives about an hour away from Charlotte and Luke’s dad saw his son play on Thursday and Saturday night.
OF Brandon Moss grew up in nearby Walton County and his boyhood home is 30minutes away from where the Indians will play the next four nights. “It’s not a big deal to me anymore. I may have my wife, parents and sisters in the stands, but for the most part the big crowds are on their own.” Last summer was a different story when Moss and the Pittsburgh Pirates played in Atlanta. “Now that was an event. It was my first trip to Turner (Field) and there were a ton of people there. They all sat in right field and formed the Moss Pit. I will never forget that, but that was the Big Leagues, this is Triple-A.” Don’t expect a Moss Pit in Gwinnett, but expect proud parents in the stands when Moss steps to home plate…only thirty minutes from where he grew up.
UPDATE: Brandon Moss’s sister Ashley gave me more info on where he grew up. It is the Loganville area. It is straight shot up Georgia 20 from Loganville to Lawrenceville. Brandon is the eldest of 4 children. Sisters, Lindsey and Ashley and a brother Ethan. She reached me through the power of twitter and from I gather from her tweets…she is a big Carrie Underwood fan.
It was some series against the Charlotte Knights. The Tribe won 3 out of 4, but it felt more like a seven game series. The two clubs played a regular nine inning game won by the Indians on Thursday evening. Friday night’s game was moving along through the 5th inning when lightning entered the area. The umpires pulled the players off the field and less than 10 minutes later the skies opened up and rain stopped the game. The Knights and Indians resumed the suspended game on Saturday night with the Indians winning 3-1. The regular game was up next and it moved into the bottom the 5th inning when the stadium lights went out. The concourse light’s remained on, but the stadium light’s left the field pitch black. I have no idea who CF Jose Tabata made his way back to the dugout. My only guess was a friendly game of Marco Polo. The light’s came back on after a 21 minutes delay, but less than 10 minutes later, were off again and the game was stopped. Two nights and two baseball games suspended. Sunday rolls around and the teams complete Saturday’s game with Charlotte winning 8-4. The regular Sunday game was won by the Indians in 12 innings. There were a total of 4 games and 6 “first pitches”. The Indians have resumed a suspended game three times in the past 10 days after having only two games suspended the past three years.
NEWS AND NOTES:
3B Pedro Alvarez had a career high 9 game hit streak snapped Sunday afternoon. The 23 year-old had 12 hits during the streak with 6 walks and 7 strikeouts. Alvarez enters the last day of May with 11 home runs and 44 runs batted in. The 11 home runs are tied with Ryan Doumit (2005) for the most in the first two months of the season since the affiliation with Pittsburgh. His RBI total is the best April/May total for an Indians player since joining forces with the Pirates.
The Tribe bullpen has been a major plus this month thanks to RHP Vinnie Chulk and LHP Justin Thomas. Vinnie had a rough start to the season giving up 16 runs and 17 hits in only 4 innings of work. A back injury landed him on the DL and since coming off the disable list Vinnie Chulk has been nearly perfect. In 14.2 innings he has allowed only 1 run on 8 hits. Over that span his ERA is 0.63. Believe it or not, Thomas has been better giving up one run on 6 hits in his last 18 innings or relief work. His 0.50 ERA over that stretch has caught the eye of Pirates fans. Both Chulk and Thomas have Major League time, but are not on the 40 man roster. If the Pirates were to call either man up they will have to add them to that roster.
Join us for the broadcast tonight and enjoy your family, friend, cookouts, and sunburn. It is all yours thanks to a little thing called freedom.
Follow me on Twitter: @ScottDMcCauley