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04/07/10 9:14 PM ET

Acta: Wild pitches weren't on Marson

Tribe skipper doesn't blame catcher for Monday's struggles

CHICAGO -- Jake Westbrook was a little bit rusty and quite a bit wild on Opening Day. But was rookie catcher Lou Marson was equally responsible for the club-record-tying four wild pitches tossed by Westbrook in his four-plus innings of work?

Manager Manny Acta didn't think so.

"Any time you bounce a ball, it has to be on you," Acta said. "Just like infielders throwing to first base. ... It's not easy to block pitches in the dirt. It's very unpredictable at times."

Marson admitted after the 6-0 loss to the White Sox that he could have done a better job blocking those pitches. But he also told Acta during the game that Westbrook's changeups -- all of the wild pitches came on changeups -- were getting more downward action at U.S. Cellular Field than they did in Arizona during spring camp.

When asked if the transition from Arizona's dry air to the conditions in Chicago might have played a part in the wildness, Westbrook said he didn't think so.

"It was just a matter of me not getting those pitches to the plate," he said. "I was maybe concentrating [too much] on not leaving one up."

Westbrook became the third pitcher in Tribe history to throw four wild pitches in a game, joining Steve Hargan (May 3, 1965) and Sam McDowell (July 10, 1961 and Sept. 12, 1964).

Branyan heads to Minors for rehab

CHICAGO -- Russell Branyan brought his rehab program from the Arizona desert to the Windy City, when the Indians broke camp. Now, he's scheduled to take it to the Minors.

When the Triple-A Columbus Clippers open their 2010 season on Thursday night against Indianapolis, Branyan is expected to be in their lineup, at designated hitter. He's scheduled to get four at-bats.

The Indians are hopeful that the 34-year-old Branyan, who is on the 15-day disabled list due to a herniated disc in his lower back, will be ready to join them within the first two weeks of the season, assuming he has no further setbacks in his recovery.

Branyan was signed to a one-year deal worth $2 million in February. The Indians expect him to be their regular at first base this season, with Matt LaPorta shifting to left field.

Tribe tips cap to Buehrle's highlight flip

CHICAGO -- The Indians could not escape the highlight of Mark Buehrle's incredible through-the-legs flip to Paul Konerko to retire Lou Marson on Opening Day.

"I haven't watched any highlights on TV," Jake Westbrook said, "and yet I've still seen it twice."

To recap: In the fifth inning Monday, Marson hit a hard grounder toward Buehrle's left side. Buehrle stuck out his left foot and kicked the ball toward the first-base line. Buehrle then chased down the ball, bent over, scooped it in his glove and snapped it through his legs into the outstretched bare hand of Konerko at first to beat the streaking Marson.

Manager Manny Acta was sitting in the visitor's dugout at U.S. Cellular Field before Wednesday's game, with the highlight of the play being shown in a seemingly permanent loop on the scoreboard. Acta, like Westbrook, hadn't deliberately sought out watching highlights of Monday's 6-0 loss to the White Sox ("My wife told me that no matter how many times you watch, it's not going to change."), yet this play proved unavoidable.

"That had to be the play of the year, on Opening Day," Acta said. "I don't think anybody was anticipating he would flip the ball between his legs."

Right fielder Shin-Soo Choo called the play "the best I've ever seen." Acta didn't go that far, but it's hard to imagine he's seen many that rank higher.

"It was amazing," Acta said. "Getting it right on target, too. It was just a tremendous play. He showed a lot of athleticism there."

Worth noting

Team Marketing Report released its annual Fan Cost Index (FCI), which comprises the prices of two adult average-price tickets, two child average-price tickets, two small draft beers, four small soft drinks, four regular-size hot dogs, parking for one car, two game programs and two least expensive, adult-size adjustable caps. The Indians' FCI of $180.49 ranked 15th in the game, falling below the MLB average of $195.08. ... The 2010 Minor League season gets under way on Thursday. At Triple-A Columbus, the starting rotation consists of right-handers Carlos Carrasco, Hector Rondon, Yohan Pino and Jeanmar Gomez and left-hander Scott Lewis, in that order. ... The Indians' average age (27.97) on the 40-man roster is the second-youngest in MLB, trailing only the A's (27.71).

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.