My son's project included: "I love my dad because..."
"... He takes me to the baseball stadium," he wrote.
So for the second game of Monday's doubleheader earlier this week, Hayden grabbed his glove, put on his Indians cap and I brought him to the baseball stadium. After he high-fived Slider and got his picture with Ketchup in the Kid's Club, we found our seats behind home plate.
"Daddy," he said, "I want to go on the field and play, too."
"Sorry, Hay," I replied with a laugh. "We've got to stay here and watch."
"Can I have a ball?" he asked, searching for a compromise.
A baseball soared over the infield and tailed behind the plate and over our seats. It ricocheted off a railing on the second deck and dropped from the sky, right into my outstretched bare hand. I didn't even have to move out of my seat. There were cheers and a man came over and shook my hand, which only stung a little. Most importantly, my son beamed.
"Here you go," I said as I placed the ball in his glove.
Just like that, the love of baseball was in both of us.
Here is the latest Indians Inbox ...
The team obviously has some great mojo working right now. The Indians' "suspect" starting rotation has been great. When Brett Myers comes back from the disabled list, does he just barge right back in with the way Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer have been performing?
-- Rex H., Cedar Rapids, Iowa
As alarming as Myers' opening act (a 9.00 ERA in Spring Training and 8.02 ERA this season) has been for the Indians, Cleveland still views the veteran as a capable innings eater in the middle of the rotation. The right-hander's early performance also took on a slightly different look once it was clear that he had been dealing with elbow soreness between outings.
The recent run of success for the rotation has allowed the Indians to give Myers ample recovery time, along with an appropriate amount of rehab time to build his workload up again. When Myers shows no lingering effects from his elbow injury and declares himself ready, he will take his assigned place within the starting staff for the Tribe.
Right now, there is still no specific timetable for Myers' return.
Kluber has done an admirable job, but he has battled inconsistency as well. Bauer, while boasting a promising future, still has plenty of development left and Cleveland does not want to rush him into a full-time rotation job. Both pitchers are young and gaining experience, but if the Tribe plans on contending deep into the summer, an experienced starter such as Myers can be beneficial.
Consider that Myers went 21-22 with a 3.79 ERA over 439 2/3 innings during the 2010-11 seasons for the Astros, who lost 192 games in that span. If the right-hander can show that kind of form -- and do it for a team with a much better offense and better chances of contending -- then the Indians will have what they wanted when they inked Myers to a one-year contract.
You're right, though, Rex. The Tribe's starters have been on quite a run of late, posting a Major League-best 12 wins with the third-best ERA (3.17) in the American League, dating back to Game 2 of a doubleheader against the Royals on April 28. If Myers rejoins the staff and shows little progress, Cleveland now has more confidence in its depth.
Can we attribute the rotation's recent success to the fact that the Indians have a better lineup behind them this year? Or are we just enjoying a streak of pitching, offense and defense firing at the same time?
-- Chris K., Collie, Western Australia
Simply put: Yes.
The rotation and offense have both been firing on all cylinders over the past few weeks, helping create one of the better stretches for the Tribe in the past few years. Coming into this year, we knew the lineup would be improved and likely offer sufficient run support over a six-month season. The team's chances were going to rest on the starting staff. Well, there is something to be said for pitching with a lead, and the rotation has pitched with a lead consistently of late.
Considering Yan Gomes is doing a good job and is producing better numbers than backup Lou Marson, what's going to happen when Marson gets back from the disabled list? Do you see any possibility of keeping Yan in the big leagues and sending Lou down?
-- Thiago T., Sao Paulo, Brazil
The Indians love Gomes' ability to handle a pitching staff, control a running game and provide some power off the bench. The young catcher has impressed in every facet of his game, reinforcing the club's view that he can develop into an everyday catcher. Under the circumstances, Cleveland will likely take its time with Marson's right shoulder injury, making sure he is at full strength before being activated. It is worth noting that Marson does have one Minor League option remaining, so he could be sent to Triple-A without being exposed to waivers.
It didn't take long for me (and many Indians fans) to become enamored with Mark Reynolds' bat. Any talk of the Tribe trying to extend him during the season or will he likely hit the open market in the offseason?
-- Andy L., Littleton, Colo.
If this strong start turns into a strong season for Reynolds, his agent would probably advise him to test free agency next winter. That is usually part of the reasoning for accepting a one-year contract following a down year. This could wind up being a big platform season for Reynolds. That said, there is no denying what he has brought both to the lineup and clubhouse. Cleveland doesn't have a blanket policy on in-season negotiations, but there haven't been any rumblings yet of extension talks.
I heard that highly-touted Draft pick Dillon Howard had his struggles in his first year last season. Do you have an update on how the right-hander's doing this year?
-- Michael L., Hudson, Ohio
Howard (second-round pick in the 2011 Draft) went 1-7 with a 7.90 ERA in 12 games in the rookie-level Arizona League last season. The pitcher is still in extended spring camp right now, but reports are that he is in better shape this year and taking positive strides forward. When Howard is assigned to an affiliate, it will likely be either Class A (short-season) Mahoning Valley or low Class A Lake County.
Any word on trade rumors with Asdrubal Cabrera so the Tribe can call up Francisco Lindor?
-- Don R., Dayton, Ohio
Lindor has been on a tear, hitting .331 (.871 OPS) through 38 games, but keep in mind this has been with high Class A Carolina. The next step for Lindor -- Cleveland's top pick in the 2011 Draft -- is Double-A Akron, and that step could be coming in the near future. As strong as Lindor is playing, the jump to the big leagues is unlikely to happen until some time next season, at the very earliest.