Thursday, April 9, 2009

Indy Opens Tonight

Hey, GW supposes the Bucs were serious about working Jason Davis as a starter - he's the opening day pitcher for the Indians tonight against the Toledo Mud Hens.

And in an interesting promo, for the third year in a row, the Tribe is offering free tickets for an April game to its fans if the weather isn't 60 degrees at the first pitch. They best be ready to pony up; it's supposed to be in the low 50s and raining.

The lid-lifter at Victory Field will mark the 123rd year of pro baseball in Indianapolis. A dozen Hall-of-Famers have passed through, and it seems like GM Max Schumacher has been there for all them. Well, in truth he might have missed a couple, but it's his 53rd year with the team. Ol' Max must be doing something right.

Frank Kremblas is the field boss after four years and three titles with the Brewer's PCL Nashville Sounds. He became the 58th manager in Indians history when he was named to the post in December 2008, replacing Trent Jewett. Kremblas played in Indy from 1993-96 when the Indians were a Cincinnati Reds affiliate.

He'll be joined by hitting coach Jeff Branson, who played in 139 games for Indianapolis during the 1997 and 1999 seasons and is his seventh season as part of the Pirate system. Ray Searage will handle the pitching chores. He's returning for a seventh season in the Buc organization, with stops at Williamsport, Hickory, and Altoona.

Indianapolis Opening Day Roster

Pitchers - RH Jimmy Barthmaier, RH Denny Bautista, RH Chris Bootcheck, LH Dave Davidson, RH Jason Davis, LH Tom Gorzelanny, LH Corey Hamman, RH Daniel McCutchen, RH Evan Meek, RH Jeremy Powell, RH Brian Slocum, RH Virgil Vasquez.

The Watch List: Bootcheck, Davis, Gorzo, McCutchen, Meek, Vasquez. The Bucs aren't very deep in arms, and have turned Indy's pitching roster inside-out from last year. Meek will be back in Pittsburgh as soon as he's healthy and stretched out.

The others all have to prove they belong, with Davis being the strongest candidate to pop up in PNC. But there should be plenty of opportunity if the performance is there.

Catchers - Robinzon Diaz, Erik Kratz.

The Watch List: Diaz. He lit it up with his bat in the spring, and may alternate in ther bigs with Jason Jaramillo to give each regular work in the minors while serving as Ryan Doumit's caddy in the show.

Infielders - SS Brian Bixler, 1B Jason Delaney, IF Anderson Machada, 1B Steve Pearce, IF Andy Phillips, 3B Neil Walker.

The Watch List: Bix, Pearce, Phillips, Walker. Brian Bixler will try to regain some luster as a prospect after a promising spring, and Neil Walker will work on his patience at the dish. Steve Pearce returns to the future at first base, and Andy Phillips will look to take Luis Cruz's utility role in Pittsburgh. Shelby Ford will be in the mix shortly; he's still out with a bruised wrist suffered in camp.

Outfielders - Larry Broadway, Garrett Jones, Andrew McCutchen, Jeff Salazar.

The Watch List: Jones, McCutch, Salazar. Andrew McCutchen will join the show sometime this year. Jones and Salazar are insurance policies for Pittsburgh, Jones at first, Salazar in the outfield.

The Pirates did some major house-cleaning here from last year, but all in all, it's not a terribly imposing opening-day roster, particularly on the hill. Most of the Bucs' young guns are already in Pittsburgh, but if all goes according to plan, guys like Jose Tabata, Pedro Alvarez, and Jeff Sues should be making their Indy debuts sometime this season.

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