So Shoppach is doing his part to ensure those runners don't even want to try to run on the Indians, as evidenced by him nailing a streaking Erick Aybar for the final out in Tuesday night's 7-6 win over the Angels.
Shoppach is filling in this week for an injured Victor Martinez, who, before suffering a quadriceps strain last Friday, was having quite a bit of success in the caught-stealing department, in his own right. On April 5, against the White Sox, Martinez threw out Scott Podsednik, owner of 215 stolen bases over the last five seasons, two times.
Martinez's throwing woes last season, in which he threw out just 16 of 116 potential basestealers, led the opposition to treat games against the Indians like a track meet. But with Martinez's improvement and the strong-armed Shoppach's recent uptick in playing time, manager Eric Wedge expects teams to follow suit with Shoppach's hopes and hold up the stop sign a little more often.
"It doesn't take long for something to get on a report," Wedge said. "Information is so easy to gather with the Internet and advance scouts."
Shoppach doesn't mind when speedsters such as Podsednik and Aybar advance nearly as much as he does when the slowpokes have their fun.
"What you don't want is the big donkeys stealing off you," he said. "You want to throw out the average runners. If you do that, you're doing OK."
The Vic watch:
The Indians felt comfortable enough with Shoppach in the starting role and Ryan Garko on hand as an emergency backup to send Triple-A catcher Mike Rose back to Buffalo.
Rose had made the journey to Milwaukee in the event that Martinez was added to the 15-day disabled list, but that has not happened. The club is still taking it day by day with Martinez, who worked out in Cleveland on Wednesday after the birth of his daughter a day before.
As for when Martinez will return, the Indians are hoping this weekend's series against the White Sox provides the answer.
"We're gonna know a lot more by this weekend," Wedge said.
Cliff Lee's first rehab outing went off without a hitch. He pitched two scoreless innings for Class A Kinston on Tuesday, striking out four and allowing one hit. He threw 29 pitches in the game and six more in the bullpen afterward and felt no pain.
Next up for Lee, who is coming back from a strained right abdominal muscle that cost him virtually all of Spring Training, is a rehab outing Saturday at Class A Lake County. He's expected to throw about three innings and 50 pitches. If all goes to plan, he would likely make two rehab starts of about five innings each after that before being ready for activation from the DL.
"That's how we progress with our [injured] pitchers," head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff said. "He'll throw five innings either one or two times, with good subjective and objective responses. Two [five-inning outings] is most likely."
The hope remains that Lee will be ready to rejoin the rotation by the end of the month.
The wild one:
Joe Borowski was perplexed to hear "Wild Thing" blaring from the in-house speakers as he jogged out to the mound for his save situation Tuesday night. Then he remembered the movie "Major League" was shot in Milwaukee, and he understood the connection.
"It caught me off-guard," he said of the song.
The Indians are planning on giving out Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn glasses to fans at an upcoming home game. The promotion was originally scheduled for Tuesday but had to be rescheduled to April 25 because of the move to Milwaukee.
Will Borowski be wearing the specs?
"I don't think I could pull that off," he said with a laugh.
Borowski pulled off the save, despite giving up a run on two hits. He let Garret Anderson, who hit a one-out single, advance to second on defensive indifference with two outs. Anderson later scored to make it 7-6.
"When you're in this [closer's] role, you sometimes have to sacrifice for what's best for the team," he said. "The bottom line is to get the win. [Anderson advancing and scoring] meant nothing to me."
Here's the question:
In keeping with the spirit of a National League park where pitchers hit, which former Tribe great holds the record for highest career pinch-hit batting average by a pitcher (minimum 100 pinch-hit at-bats)?
The Piano Man cometh:
His talents are more suited toward the national anthem, but Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Billy Joel will be throwing out the first pitch before Friday's home game against the Sox.
Joel will be in town to play a sold-out concert next door at Quicken Loans Arena later that night.
"Billy is a huge baseball fan and has been following the weather challenges that have plagued the city of Cleveland the past few days," said Bob DiBiasio, the Indians' vice president of public relations. "This is his way of paying tribute to the passionate Tribe fans who have been patient to get the home season started."
Given the adverse weather conditions in Cleveland, injured reliever Matt Miller (strained right forearm) was sent back to Winter Haven, Fla., to rehab. Miller threw long toss out to 105 feet Wednesday, and Soloff said he'll most likely start throwing off a mound in the next week or so. Miller is at least 10 days to two weeks away from making a rehab outing. ... The Indians and Angels drew 19,031 fans to Miller Park on Tuesday night. By comparison, the Milwaukee Bucks drew 14,416 fans to Bradley Center for their NBA game against the Magic a night earlier. And the Brewers-Marlins game in Miami had an attendance of 10,883. ... Fans who were hoping to attend the First Pitch Luncheon, which was to take place Tuesday afternoon but had to be canceled due to the Milwaukee move, are encouraged to exchange their tickets to attend the Aug. 12 Hall of Fame celebration at Heritage Park. The details for the Hall of Fame event will be released in the near future, but all Indians team members will be in attendance. Fans can also donate their tickets to Cleveland Indians Charities.
And the answer is:
Bob Lemon holds the record with a .284 average (31-for-109) in pinch-hit situations from 1941-58.
The Indians and Angels wrap up the bizarre Milwaukee series with Thursday's 1:05 p.m. ET game at Miller Park. Left-hander Jeremy Sowers (0-0, 3.00 ERA) will start opposite right-hander Dustin Moseley (1-0, 1.50).