Notes: Inglett reports early to camp
Infielder hopes AFL experience helps him in utility battle
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- As a veteran of seven Minor League seasons, Joe Inglett is something of a maven of motels. He's no doubt seen his share of budget rooms with thin toilet paper and even thinner walls.Sleeping in airports, on the other hand, wasn't exactly his specialty, until earlier this week. Inglett had paid a visit to his alma mater, the University of Nevada-Reno, and was attempting to fly to Cleveland for a night before reporting to Spring Training camp in Winter Haven. But a Cleveland blizzard put the kibosh on those plans and dictated a night spent in the luxurious terminal of the Reno Tahoe International Airport. "That," Inglett not-so-proudly reported, "was a first for me." Inglett hopes the accommodations during the 2007 campaign are a little more posh. He got his first taste of the big leagues last season, batting .284 with two homers and 21 RBIs in 64 games, mostly at second base. He's come back to Winter Haven wanting more, which is why he reported the same time as the Tribe's pitchers and catchers. "I want to show [the Indians] I want to be here," Inglett said. "This isn't fun and games to me." Inglett has his work cut out for him, though. Hector Luna, Mike Rouse and non-roster invitees Luis Rivas and Keith Ginter join him in the fight to be the Tribe's utility infielder. And it's a battle in which the victor must possess supreme skills at the shortstop position. Considering Inglett never played short until last season, that's a tall order. But he's ready for the challenge, especially after a shortstop-heavy stint in the Arizona Fall League. "I had a good experience in Arizona," he said. "I learned quite a few things." Inglett must prove to the Indians he has the range to be an effective backup for Jhonny Peralta. His performance at the plate last season certainly opened some eyes, and Inglett was hoping he had made a strong enough case for himself to be guaranteed a return to the big-league roster.
Alas, no such guarantee exists, and Inglett is no stranger to the reports that Luna is the early favorite for the utility role."It fuels the fire a little bit," Inglett said. "It puts a chip on my shoulder. It's always good to have a challenge put in front of you. If you're not competitive, you'll slip away." And Inglett has no interest in returning to those motels. Classic matters: Manager Eric Wedge couldn't be happier the World Baseball Classic isn't an annual event. It's Wedge's opinion the inaugural staging of the event did a little bit of damage to his club. He said catcher Victor Martinez had been throwing the ball better before he played for the Venezuelan team than he did after his return. And relief pitchers Rafael Betancourt and Fernando Cabrera, he said, both suffered from having to ready their arms for the tournament, only to pitch sparingly. "Routines are a powerful thing in this game," Wedge said. "I think [the WBC] affected those guys a little bit." The numbers game: When Josh Barfield showed up to Chain of Lakes Park on Friday morning, he received two pieces of news: Keith Foulke had retired, and, therefore, No. 29 was available. While with the Padres last season, Barfield wore No. 29 in honor of his father, Jesse, who wore it with the Yankees and Blue Jays. He briefly had the same number with the Indians, before Foulke was signed in January and claimed it, forcing Barfield to grab No. 12. Now, Barfield and 29 have been reunited. "I called my dad, and he was pretty excited," Barfield said. "It's nice to have the family number." Clubhouse manager Tony Amato has been busy with the number swaps the last few months. Bench coach Jeff Datz lost No. 29 to Barfield, hitting coach Derek Shelton lost No. 39 to Roberto Hernandez, Tom Mastny lost No. 47 to Joe Borowski and Matt Miller switched over to No. 59. Don't blame Bartman: Borowski had as good a view as anyone of the famous Steve Bartman play in Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS. Bartman, of course, was the Cubs fan whose attempts to catch a foul ball off the bat of the Marlins' Luis Castillo in the eighth inning of that game prevented outfielder Moises Alou from catching it for the second out. The Cubs were up 3-0 at the time and five outs away from clinching a World Series berth. But after the play, the Marlins scored eight runs in the inning, then won the next night to dash Chicago's hopes. Blame it on Bartman? Borowski, who was the closer for that Cubs club, sure doesn't. "I look at it like this," Borowski said. "[Bartman] did what anybody else would have done. There were four other people who threw their hands up, too. It just happened to hit his. Mo would have caught it, but that's just one out. You still have to get the other outs anyway. And there was only one man on and we were up by three. It was unfortunate and the first thing you think is, 'Oh, this team is cursed.' But we should have gotten the job done."
Finally: Indians pitchers and catchers had their first official workout of Spring Training on Saturday morning. Betancourt, Cabrera, Mastny, Aaron Fultz, C.C. Sabathia, Jake Westbrook, Jason Davis, Matt Miller, Jason Stanford, Juan Lara, Rafael Perez, Brian Sikorski and Tony Sipp all threw a bullpen session.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.