BALTIMORE -- Kelly Shoppach was asked where the ball from his first big-league hit Wednesday night is headed. "It's headed to Kansas City," Shoppach said with a wry grin, referring to the Indians' next stop on their 10-game road trip. OK, wise guy, where's it headed after that?
"Every bit of memorabilia from my career has gone to my parents' house," Shoppach said. "But I might want to keep this one." Shoppach, the Tribe's backup catcher who was acquired from the Red Sox in January's Coco Crisp trade, waited a while to get it. His first, short-term callup to the big leagues came last May 27, and he also enjoyed a stint in the bigs last September. Unfortunately, he went 0-for-15 in that first taste of the Major Leagues, and he had gone 0-for-2 in his first at-bats with the Tribe. But then, with a single off Eddy Rodriguez in the ninth inning of the 18-9 loss to the Orioles, Shoppach finally found relief. "My brother [Kyle] called me after the game and said, 'It looked like you let out a huge exhale,'" Shoppach said. "I went from May 27 [of '05] until [Wednesday]. So it seemed like it's been a year, even though it was only 15 or 16 at-bats. It's nice to get it out of the way." And his folks will have to do without this memento. "They can come visit it," he said with a laugh. "All the other [career highlights] don't mean a whole lot. When you're a kid, you don't dream about your first hit in the Minors or your first hit in college. You dream about your first hit in the Majors." Being in the Majors has been a tough adjustment for the 25-year-old Shoppach on two fronts. Not only is he getting used to the big-league lifestyle, he's also getting used to having a part-time role. "I've talked with [fourth outfielder] Todd Hollandsworth about that a lot," Shoppach said. "He tells me about how you have to simplify it. I've learned a lot from him about the role." Walking wounded: Casey Blake and Aaron Boone were both in Thursday's starting lineup, despite slight injuries. Blake, who was given Wednesday off, has been battling tightness in his right groin that was amplified when he beat out a double play in the fourth inning of Tuesday's game. "I've never felt something like this before," Blake said. "But it's not as bad as I first thought." Boone is wearing a left wrist protector after getting hit by a pitch in the area in the eighth inning Tuesday. Though it's left Boone with some soreness, the injury didn't stop him from launching a solo home run in the seventh inning Wednesday. Here's the question: Can you name the first batter in the history of old Cleveland Stadium? Happy to be here: Rafael Perez admitted he didn't expect to get called up to the big leagues this fast. But when Matt Miller went down with a right elbow strain Wednesday night, the Indians needed a fresh-armed reliever who could give them some innings. Perez, a starter at Double-A Akron who last pitched Sunday, was the best option available from that standpoint. "I feel happy to be here," Perez said through interpreter Ronnie Belliard. "I'm going to call my family in the Dominican." Perez has gone 1-2 with a 7.02 ERA in three starts for the Aeros this season. Tribe tidbits: Left-hander C.C. Sabathia threw a 55-pitch bullpen session before Thursday's game. It was his third such session since leaving his Opening Day start against the White Sox with a right abdominal strain. Sabathia will throw a four-inning simulated game in Kansas City on Saturday, and the Indians will decide from there when to send him off to make a rehab start. ... The latest edition of Game Face magazine is available online. This issue features a story on head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff, the art of signs with third-base coach Jeff Datz and a look inside reliever Danny Graves' locker. ... Victor Martinez entered Thursday closing in on the longest hitting streak of his career. At 14 games, he stood three shy of his career-best 17-game stretch, set last summer. And the answer is: Philadelphia Athletics second baseman Max Bishop was the first batter in Cleveland Stadium's long history. On deck: Kansas City, here they come. The Indians will open a three-game set against the Royals with Friday's 8:10 p.m. ET game at Kauffman Stadium. Left-hander Cliff Lee will start opposite left-hander Mark Redman.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.