Falling off a Cliff
If the Indians could find a reset button on this year's spring training, they'd press it. First, Keith Foulke decided he'd rather spend the rest of his time fishing. Now, Cliff Lee's tummy is acting up. He has an abdomen strain that's going to put him on the shelf for a month or so. So you can pretty much cross him off the Indians roster until May.
And here you thought only fat guys hurt themselves during spring training.
So that makes it less than a month into spring training and already two key components of the pitching staff are sidelined. If any other pitchers check the mound for a trapdoor the rest of the way, don't be surprised.
Lee missed two months of the 2003 season with a similar abdominal strain, so no one's optimistic that he'll beat the four-to-six-week timetable the Indians have set for him to rehab from this injury. Expect to see a lot of Fausto Carmona, who filled in for C.C. Sabathia at the beginning of last season.
Now that the Indians preseason is starting to resemble Hilary Swank's upcoming movie, "The Reaping" -- coincidentally coming to theaters the same day as the Indians home opener -- it might be time to rethink those World Series predictions. ESPN's Buster Olney has already predicted the Tribe will win it all; of course 10 ESPN personalities predicted the Indians to make the playoffs last season. Apparently it's the cool thing to do.
But so far few teams have had a worse start than the Tribe. Besides the pitching woes, Trot Nixon has battled back problems. Even Indians legend Bob Feller was in a minor fender bender. Elsewhere, the Baltimore Orioles have suffered the biggest bow, with Kris Benson bowing out for the year with what looks like a torn rotator cuff.
Sure, sure, it's not the end of the world. The Indians have touted pitched depth in their minors and can withstand the loss of Lee for a few weeks. It's just that it's more of the same ole, same ole in Cleveland sports, and that's a headline we've grown tired of seeing.