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Winter Haven Update 3/19

Winter Haven Update 3/19
March 20, 2008
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Finocchi Stays Positive, Looks To Return In June

Michael FinocchiRight-hander reliever Michael Finocchi looked to be on the fast track in the bullpen after another good season last year when he went 5-3 with a 3.27 ERA in 45 combined games in Kinston and Akron. He followed up the solid performance in the regular season with an excellent showing in the Arizona Fall League (AFL) by throwing 10.1 shutout innings in nine appearances.

But, one slip and fall on some ice in December changed his outlook for the 2008 season. A season of potential has now turned into a season of rehab, where Finocchi is found hobbling around in camp right now in a walking boot still recovering from a broken ankle he suffered from that slip on the ice.

Finocchi is expected to be fitted for an air case in the next week so he can start his throwing program, and when camp breaks he will remain in extended spring training to rehab. He is expected to return sometime in June.

"They will put me in an air cast, which will allow me to put pressure and my full body weight on it," said Finocchi yesterday afternoon. "It is going to help me get the feel for it again. I'll work on balance and strength, start some light tossing, and gradually build it up."

Finocchi has a power sinking fastball that sits around 92-94 MPH, and he compliments it with a hard slider and changeup. His slider is his best secondary pitch, and even with the ankle injury has shown in the past to be a durable reliever who gets hitters to pound the ball into the ground. Last year he had a 3.40 groundball to flyout ratio, and had a 3.72 ratio in 2006. Finocchi also has shown a sensational ability to keep the ball in the park as in 176 career innings pitched he has only surrendered two home runs.

When Finocchi gets back to full strength, he will work on the goals that he and the organization set for him this year to try and make him a better pitcher. One of the main goals was to throw more first pitch strikes.

"I went to the Arizona Fall League, and I was working on throwing my slider ahead in the count for strikes," said Finocchi. "Just continue to become more comfortable with the slider, get ahead in the count and ahead of the batters."

Even with the setback, Finocchi is keeping a positive attitude and plans to come back stronger than ever.

"I don't think the injury will set me back," said Finocchi. "If anything, after this I think I will come back stronger with the rehab and working out harder than I ever have. Everyone is pushing and pushing me to get better."

McFarland Ready To Go

T.J. McFarlandThe Indians selected McFarland in the fourth round of the 2007 Draft out of high school. While he showed great potential late in his senior year at high school by showcasing a low 90s fastball that topped out at 94 MPH and the makings of a good breaking ball, he did not pitch an inning for the Indians last season.

The reason McFarland did not throw was because he complained of some elbow soreness when he signed, and the Indians felt it best to be extremely cautious with their new prized top draft pick. McFarland said the soreness was the result of throwing too many innings in high school, and called it a "less severe tendonitis."

"I didn't throw right away [when I signed]," said McFarland. "The Indians and I felt it best to take a conservative route to everything. There was a little problem with soreness in the elbow, but that is all gone now. I rehabbed from August all through instructs, and this whole offseason I built it back up to 100%."

McFarland is good to go, and is participating in his first spring training camp. On Monday, he pitched a few innings in a Mahoning Valley scrimmage against a USA free agent team (WFast) and is scheduled to throw again on Saturday.

This being his first experience pitching in games, the main focus for McFarland right now is adjusting to the professional game where as a starter he follows a normal five day routine. When camp breaks, he is expected to stick around in extended spring training to continue this adjustment before he makes his professional debut later in the summer for Mahoning Valley or the Gulf Coast League Indians.

"I think going to extended spring training would be a great thing," said McFarland. "I need to develop a five day routine. It is up to me basically in how I do."

In addition to his fastball and slider, McFarland also throws a changeup. His fastball is usually more of a two-seamer so he gets more drop on the pitch, and the pitch he tends to rely on the most when he needs a strike is his slider. He will continue refining these pitches over the course of the season, and also work on several other areas of his game.

"I am just trying to work on commanding the zone," said McFarland. "Also, commanding my fastball in and out, my mechanics, and repeating my delivery."

(Here is a video in camp of
McFarland in action)


- Here is a listing of players practicing in each camp yesterday. This is not an all-inclusive list as I may have missed a few players, especially for Lake County. Also, it should be noted that some players are playing up a level or two because some minor leaguers are still with the big league club. For example, Aaron Herr and Danny Sandoval are still with the Indians but most likely will be the starting left side of the Buffalo infield, so while they are out Wes Hodges and Josh Rodriguez have been playing up a level.

Buffalo (AAA): Adam Miller (RHP), Sean Smith (RHP), Bubbie Buzachero (RHP), Ryan Goleski (OF), Ryan Mulhern (1B), Jose Constanza (OF), Nick Pesco (RHP), Scott Roehl (RHP), J.D. Martin (RHP), Michael Aubrey (1B), Danny Chaves (2B), Wes Hodges (3B), Stephen Head (OF), Jordan Brown (1B), Scott Lewis (LHP), Randy Newsom (RHP), Josh Rodriguez (SS), Nathan Panther (OF), Reid Santos (LHP), Trevor Crowe (OF), Jason Cooper (OF), Wyatt Toregas (C), Brandon Pinckney (SS), Brian Slocum (RHP), T.J. Burton (RHP).

Akron (AA): Lucas Montero (OF), Brian Finegan (SS/2B), Osiel Flores (C), Luis Valdez (RHP), Carlos Rivero (SS), John Drennen (OF), Shawn Nottingham (LHP), Mike Butia (OF), Todd Martin (1B), Jason Denham (OF), Erik Stiller (RHP), Matt Meyer (LHP), Sung-Wei Tseng (RHP), Kevin Dixon (RHP), Kyle Collina (RHP), Jim Deters (RHP), Chris Niesel (RHP), Neil Wagner (RHP), Chuck Lofgren (LHP), David Huff (LHP), Jorge Riera (RHP), Niuman Romero (IF), Chris De La Cruz (IF).

Kinston (A+): Dan Frega (RHP), Scott Sumner (RHP), Steven Wright (RHP), Austin Creps (RHP), Heath Taylor (LHP), Josh Judy (RHP), Paolo Espino (RHP), Jeanmar Gomez (RHP), Hector Rondon (RHP), Jonathan Holt (RHP), Josh Tomlin (RHP), Mike Eisenberg (RHP), Nick Weglarz (OF), Roman Pena (OF), Cirilo Cumberbatch (OF), Jerad Head (C), Doug Pickens (C), Matt Willard (SS), Dustin Realini (1B), Jansey Infante (IF), Joanniel Montero (RHP), Jared Goedert (2B), Beau Mills (1B), David Uribes (IF), Adam Davis (2B), Mark Thompson (SS), Michael Valadez (C), Ramon Hernandez (OF), Luis Perdomo (RHP), Carlton Smith (RHP).

Lake County (A-): Adam White (OF), Robbie Alcombrack (C), Isaias Velasquez (IF), Corteze Armstrong (OF), Karexon Sanchez (IF), Alex Castillo (C), Jay Nilsson (C), Rafael Vera (IF), Daryl King (OF), Cristo Arnal (IF), Jeff Hehr (3B), Ronald Rivas (SS), Chris Nash (1B), Matt Brown (OF), Jason Smit (IF), Bo Greenwell (OF), Brock Simpson (OF), Justin Jenkins (OF), Brian Juhl (C).

- Chris Nash, Jason Smit, and Matt Brown sat out of action yesterday with various injuries. Brown is expected to get clearance to return to action in the next day or so from an undisclosed injury, and Nash is mending well from a strained muscle in his right upper rib cage area. Smit is expected to be out another week or so with a bad shoulder. He hurt it throwing and heard a pop, but the injury was not as bad as originally thought when it happened.

- I caught left-hander Tony Sipp in the middle of his rehab routine. He is progressing well from his return from Tommy John surgery and slated for a late June or early July return. Check out this
video of him doing some rigorous exercises to build up the strength in his arm, which went on for 20 minutes or so.

- Watched some more of young Latin third baseman Abner Abreu yesterday. He definitely has a lot of room for growth physically and as a player, but he already looks like he could be a star in the making. He displays some real soft hands and good range at third base, and has held his own at the plate. Here is a video of
him taking infield.

- Beau Mills is expected to split time at first base and third base at Kinston this year. He will rotate between the two positions by playing about a week straight at first base then about a week straight at third base and keep revolving with the same rotation. The Indians still are not ruling out third base for Mills, and hope that by the end of this season they can settle on a position for him.

- Top prospect Adam Miller is scheduled to pitch in a game today. It will be his first game action of the spring, but unfortunately will be off site as the Triple-A team will be on the road. Miller is 100% and ready to go and looks on target to begin the season in the Buffalo starting rotation.

- Several players had to sit through a two hour presentation by baseball on steroid use Sunday night.

- J.D. Martin may end up being converted into a reliever.

- I have a ton of video to share on the following players: Abner Abreu, Chun Chen, Delvi Cid, Ryan Mulhern, Jason Denham, Carlos Rivero, John Drennen, Wyatt Toregas, Todd Martin, Chris Gimenez, Wes Hodges, Nathan Panther, Bubbie Buzachero, Steven Head, John Gaub, Mark Rodrigues, Chris Niesel, and Matt Meyer. Unfortunately, YouTube was down all night as I did not have a chance to upload these videos, so I will be uploading these clips the next few days and will make mention in one of the updates when they are available.

Today, I'll be following the young kids in the Single-A circuit as they are home while the Double-A and Triple-A players go on the road. I hope to see some new pitchers in action today and will keep up to date on any news that may break.

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