It doesn't take much to make me feel stupid. But the quickest, most sure-fire way is to get me to spell something out on the phone.
While it seems easy enough to say things like, "B as in Bob, A as in apple," my brain tends to freeze when I'm on the spot. Such was the case the other day, when I had to give a woman from Continental Airlines my confirmation number over the phone.
"C as in cat," I said, off to a fine start. But then I ran into trouble.
"F as in ..."
I was stumped. What word starts with an F? After one or two awkward seconds, I was way past deadline. It was time to come up with something.
Fern? Who makes "fern" their go-to F word? And while there is one F word clearly off-limits in this circumstance, I can, in hindsight, think of many others that would have worked better than fern. Fall, February, France, Friday. Even "fibrofolliculomus" would have been better than "fern." Or at least more fun.
On a related note, I always thought it would be entertaining to have a little fun with a potential employer if ever asked to spell something over the phone. "That's U as in unqualified, T as in tardy, O as in odorous ..."
Anyway, let's get to your Q's, as in questions ...
What are the chances that we will see more of Victor Martinez at first base than usual when he returns? I know Eric Wedge said he isn't interested in a full-time move, but I think it could be beneficial as we look to find a consistent first-base bat, and it would also allow Kelly Shoppach, to enjoy more playing time, furthering his value as a backup and potentially a trade piece. -- Cody S., Ashland, Ohio
The chances are pretty good, Cody. Martinez should begin his rehab assignment later this week and be back in the middle of the month. The Indians are going to have to be careful with how much they expose Martinez's elbow to use, and having him play first instead of catching is one way to do so. Having him at designated hitter might be another, although it remains to be seen how much the elbow affects Martinez's swing. He could simply see more days off.
As you mention, a bigger issue is at hand here, and it revolves around the fact that Shoppach is proving himself as a viable starting catcher in the big leagues. Catching talent is increasingly rare in today's game, and while the Indians certainly enjoy the luxury of having a backup of Shoppach's caliber, I can't help but wonder if that's a luxury they might have to consider parting with this offseason, when it comes time to make some trades that improve this ballclub as a whole.
The Indians feel they have quality catching depth down on the farm in Wyatt Toregas, and you have to be intrigued by the switch-hitting Carlos Santana, who was brought aboard in the Casey Blake trade and is likely on the verge of a promotion to Double-A ball.
Maybe that means the Indians consider a deal involving Shoppach this offseason. Or maybe, just maybe, they consider parting with Martinez, as emotionally difficult as that would be.
Hey, maybe they do nothing and keep both. But you have to give up something to get something, and it's become quite clear the Indians have quite a bit on hand in the catching department.
I was wondering how much Shoppach's line, especially slugging percentage, improved after last Wednesday night's game, in which he notched five extra-base hits? -- Josh H., Marysville, Ohio
Shoppach's slugging percentage rose from .466 to .523, his average went from .254 to .271, and his on-base percentage went from .319 to .336. Just another night at the office, right?
It's also worth noting that Shoppach had as many extra-base hits in that single game as Martinez had in the 31 games before he went on the disabled list.
One thing I have never understood is how people are put on the 15-day DL, but are on it for much longer than that. When Travis Hafner was moved from the 15- to the 60-day DL, my first question was why wasn't he on the 60-day DL to begin with, when they knew it was going to be a long time? -- Kevin W., Lexington, Ohio
The 15-day and 60-day designations are minimums, not maximums. Hafner didn't immediately go on the 60-day DL, because the Indians, at that time, weren't sure how long they would be without Pronk. He wasn't moved to the 60-day DL until he had already been absent for two months.
The biggest difference between the two lists is the impact they have on the roster. Whereas a 25-man roster spot opens when guy is placed on the 15-day DL, a 40-man spot also opens when a guy goes on the 60-day DL. That's why the Indians made the move with Hafner. They had a need for a 40-man roster spot in light of the acquisitions of John Meloan and Anthony Reyes.
Do you think the bad luck this year has anything to do with the name change of the ballpark? -- Randy F., Boston
Well, obviously. Anyone who thinks it has anything to do with the players isn't paying attention.
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I'm beginning to feel as if Adam Miller is a mirage, and Indians fans are the dehydrated victims of a hot, endless desert, perpetually running to him, only to have him fade away. Tell me, Anthony, will we ever catch him? -- Patch R., Columbus, Ohio
I swear, I've met Miller. I've talked with Miller. I've even seen Miller pitch. He is an actual human being. Speaking of which ...
Miller was injured in late May. I've read some reports of him coming back by late August. Are these reports true? Is it about time for an Adam Miller bullpen experiment? -- Nic W., Peoria, Ill.
It was pretty clear when Miller had surgery on his hand that his season was likely over, and that is, indeed, the case. He is down in Winter Haven, Fla., where he has begun a return-to-throw program, and he will be pitching in winter ball this offseason to build up his innings total.
I would not rule out a move to the bullpen for Miller next year, though any talk of him being the club's closer of the immediate future is extremely presumptuous. Let's see him stay healthy for a few months, for starters, then we'll see where his future lies.
What is the timeframe for the completion of the CC deal, by means of announcing the "player to be named later"? -- Chris N., Canton, Ohio
The Indians are expected to use the remainder of the Minor League season to evaluate the players on the list, so look for an announcement by the end of this month. It is believed the Tribe is considering Class A third baseman Taylor Green and Double-A outfielder Michael Brantley, though it's also been reported that two other, unnamed players are getting a look.
It hasn't helped matters that Brantley has only appeared in five games since suffering a high ankle sprain on June 26.
Let's say the Indians' assistant to the traveling secretary goes missing and is presumed dead by the owner. And the owner goes to the employee's home to break the bad news to his parents. He gives his spiel, and the parents listen intently. But instead of mourning, the father jumps up and shouts at him. What is the best "How could you trade Jay Buhner?!" line that could be asked of team owner Larry Dolan/general manager Mark Shapiro? -- Willis, New York
Brandon Phillips' name might come up in that conversation.
I don't think it showed any faith or trust in the players that were brought to this team by Shapiro when he announced that a comeback is unlikely with over two and a half months to go. It is not good for your players who are playing for him, and it is definitely not a championship mentality. Do you think Boston, New York, Philly, etc., would ever give up on the season so soon, even twelve games back? Florida was 10 games back in September 2003 and won the division, plus the World Series. What say you? -- Mike D., Tucson, Ariz.
If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, it's a duck. Shapiro made the right call on this injury-ravaged and underperforming club.
What happened to Scott Elarton? Is he all right? Every time I read about that 60-day non-baseball related medical issue, it makes me worried. I always liked Elarton and am glad the Indians gave him another look this year. -- Martin W., Painesville, Ohio
Elarton is dealing with a personal matter, and the Indians are respecting his privacy by not revealing any details. I would not expect him back anytime soon.
And finally ...My husband is from Scotland. Since he moved here, I have taught him to appreciate the game of baseball and to cheer for the good guys. Yet year after year, I grow to love these boys and then suffer the heartaches of trade deadlines and rebuilding years. Now I ask myself, "What have I done?" Have I just set my poor husband up for a lifetime of heartbreak? -- Stacy M., North Jackson, Ohio
I believe that's called spousal abuse.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.