Inbox: White on borrowed time with Tribe?
Beat reporter Jordan Bastian answers Indians fans' questions
A few minutes before each baseball game, all of us in attendance stand for the singing of our national anthem. I've heard "The Star-Spangled Banner" countless times and visited Fort McHenry in Baltimore, the birthplace of Francis Scott Key's historical song.
The anthem sounded more beautiful than ever on Sunday night.
As word spread across the nation that Osama bin Laden -- the terrorist mastermind behind the horrific attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 -- had been killed, the country both mourned those lost on that infamous day a decade ago, and celebrated a victory in the ongoing war on terror.
Outside the White House, a large crowd of people gathered and television broadcasts captured them joining together to sing the anthem. In Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, the fans on hand began chants of, "U-S-A! U-S-A!" In my home, my wife and I sat in my office, watching it all unfold.
We all remember where we were on 9/11.
On that fall morning, I stepped outside of a class inside Berkey Hall on Michigan State's campus. In the hallway, a TV had been rolled out and a large group of students stood and watched in horror. We were frozen there, witnessing the collapse of the World Trade Center's twin towers.
On that day, and in the months and years since, members of the armed forces, policemen, firefighters, American civilians, journalists and others have all lost their lives standing up for our country. I had family in New York who we could not reach that day. I have two nephews in the military now. We all have similar stories.
When President Barack Obama stood at the podium and delivered the news on Sunday night, it hit us all in different ways. For me, I feel blessed that I get to watch and write about baseball for a living. Baseball provides people with an escape, and in this great country, I get to be a part of that process.
With that in mind, and so much more, here is this week's Inbox ...
Do the Indians consider Alex White's current stop in the big leagues temporary until Carlos Carrasco and/or Mitch Talbot return? Or do you predict him to remain topside as long as he is successful?
-- Jacob K., Claremore, Okla.
The length of White's stay in the Majors will be largely dictated by his success, as well as the progress of Carrasco and Talbot. Really, the same could be said for right-hander Jeanmar Gomez, who is also helping hold down the fort at the moment.
If both White and Gomez are pitching well enough, what that will do for Cleveland is provide some more time for the team to make sure Carrasco and Talbot are fully recovered from their respective right elbow issues before rejoining the rotation.Should either Carrasco or Talbot recover faster than the other, the subsequent rotation decision will probably come down to who is pitching better, White or Gomez? Carrasco and Talbot have earned their spots, so expect them to be back among the starting five when they're deemed healthy.
As things currently stand, Carrasco is expected to miss at least two starts before being eligible for activation. He might have a Minor League rehab in the works as well. Talbot could begin a Minor League rehab assignment later this week if all goes well. He would likely need at least two outings to build up his innings.
The Indians have had such a hot start, and assuming it only takes 94 wins to win the American League Central, the team can play below its current pace and still make the playoffs. Is it too early to be thinking that way?
-- Cameron O., Orange, Ohio
Have a question about the Indians?
E-mail your query to MLB.com Indians beat reporter Jordan Bastian for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.
Dare to dream.
It is never too early to think that way. I might warn that it is still a bit too early to expect that to happen, though. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying it is impossible for the Tribe to crack the postseason. Stranger things have happened, and the division certainly looks up for grabs.
As for your assumption, taking a look at the AL Central winners of the past decade, it has taken an average of 92.8 wins to raise a banner. It gets better if you want to look at more recent history. Over the past three years, the Central champ had an average of just 90 wins. Shoot, two years ago, 87 trips to the win column proved sufficient.
Right now, the Fightin' Wahoos boast a 19-8 record, which works out to a .703 winning percentage. That's a 114-win pace for a full 162-game schedule. To reach 93 wins, the Indians would need to play .548 baseball (74-61) the rest of the way.
You never know ...
I know it's early, but will Justin Masterson garner any attention for AL Comeback Player of the Year?
-- Zac T., Dellroy, Ohio
Count me among those who aren't a big fan of dubbing players "Comeback" material after a poor season. For me, I tend to lean more towards players who overcome some sort of injury or obstacle. What Masterson has done early is remarkable, but that seems more about development than overcoming odds.
Besides, there is a more clear-cut AL Comeback Player candidate on Cleveland's roster.
He's hitting leadoff and manning center field for the Tribe, and he is simply destroying baseballs. If Grady Sizemore continues to play the way he's playing -- after returning from microfracture surgery on his left knee -- consider him an early favorite for that accolade.
I sent you an e-mail at the beginning of Spring Training asking if you thought Jack Hannahan had a shot at the team, since he is my favorite player. He seems to be doing an awesome job so far for the Indians. Do you think they will keep him or bench him for Lonnie Chisenhall?
-- Tina B., Vallejo, Calif.
Hannahan is playing stellar defense and he's swinging a surprising solid bat, helping to solidify the lower third of the lineup. As long as that last sentence remains true, and if the Indians continue to contend for the division crown, Hannahan is not going anywhere this season.
Cleveland already showed its commitment to Hannahan when the team activated Jason Donald from the disabled list and promptly optioned him to Triple-A Columbus. The strong play by Hannahan also gives the Indians time to make sure Chisenhall develops at the right pace at Triple-A.
I still think we'll see Chisenhall in an Indians uniform at some point this summer. If there is an injury in the infield, or should the Tribe face a slide in the standings later this summer, Chisenhall could make the trip to Cleveland. If everything holds up as is, he will still likely be promoted in September.
And the hot corner will certainly be kept warm for Chisenhall for 2012.
Austin Kearns couldn't hit a beach ball with a bat right now. Is there a reason he is being kept around? Especially with they way Shelley Duncan is playing.
-- Rob M., Broadview Heights, Ohio
I am fairly confident that Kearns could hit a beach ball with a bat. Sure, he's in a pretty brutal slump at the moment, but this is a bench player you are worrying about right now. Kearns provides experienced depth, solid defense and a decent bat against left-handed pitching.
In a pinch-hitting situation, you're right, Duncan is the first choice off the bench as a right-handed bat. Duncan is also the top option when Travis Hafner is not in the lineup as the designated hitter. It is worth noting that -- sample size alert -- Kearns (hitting .139 overall) is batting .286 against lefties this season.
That is Kearns' main role, too. Remember, the Tribe is still giving Sizemore the occasional day off. If it works out that a tough lefty is on the hill, Kearns has the track record to fill in nicely. If Kearns was batting .139 as a regular, and not hitting lefties well, there might be more concern.
Can you give me an update on pitching prospect Jason Knapp? I looked for some statistics on him for 2011 from the Minor League affiliates and I came up empty. Please tell me his arm is still attached.
-- Adam, Parma, Ohio
I can indeed confirm that both of Knapp's arms are still attached.
I can also deliver you this update: Knapp is currently pitching in extended spring camp for Cleveland. The Indians have a cap of around 100 innings for the right-hander this season, so they are managing his work load early in the year. Within a few weeks, Knapp should be suiting up for Class A Kinston.
I was wondering if you could tell me where and what position Tony Wolters will be playing this year. I thought he would be at Lake County.
-- Tim H., Nurnberg, Germany
Dank für die Frage, Tim.
Wolters had surgery to repair a broken hamate bone in his right hand in mid-March, but he is currently back on the field at extended spring camp. If his rehab goes as planned, Wolters should be game ready by May 10.
He'd begin in extended spring camp to build up his innings, with a ticket to Class A Lake County in his future. As things currently stand, the Indians still see Wolters -- the club's third pick in last year's Draft -- as a shortstop.
With the injuries to Talbot and Carrasco, are the Indians closer to calling up Drew Pomeranz?
-- Jason, Virginia Beach, Va.
I wouldn't expect that this year. Pomeranz is on a similar development path as White. That means, at the earliest, the big lefty would be a possibility for the Indians some time during the 2012 season.
I think that lineup right now is not good. I suggest, No. 1-9: Michael Brantley, Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera, Hafner, Sizemore, Carlos Santana, Matt LaPorta, Hannahan, Cabrera.
-- Bum J. K., New York
Entering Monday, the Indians ranked first in the AL in runs scored. But, hey, consider your note dropped in the ol' suggestion box. Maybe your proposed lineup will change Indians manager Manny Acta's mind.
In closing ...
Does Hafner have a good chance at making the AL All-Star team? I'm voting for him.
-- Margie M., Cleveland
Thanks to fan voting, Browns running back Peyton Hillis is going to be on the cover of "Madden NFL 2012." Anything is possible.