Search Results for: ‘willie’

Inside the Visitors’ Clubhouse: Willie Jenks (Part Two)


Cleveland Indians Visiting Clubhouse Manager Willie Jenks chatted with TribeVibe about his experience with other Major League teams at Progressive Field. Jenks was recently selected to join Kansas City’s Clubhouse Staff for the 2012 All-Star Game.

TribeVibe: Are you married? Do you have kids?
Willie Jenks: I’m married. I found out that I got this job a week before I got married. It was incredible. I’ve been married five years now, and I have a [two-year-old] daughter. It’s a dream come true and a blessing because I was able to stay in Cleveland, go to school here, and get a Major League job here. In baseball, it’s rare to even get the chance to work at the Major League level, but to do it in your hometown is a dream come true. If there’s a home stand, I see my wife when I go to bed — she’s usually sleeping. I always make it a point to wake up early with my daughter, even if I get home at two or three in the morning. I try to get up with my daughter, have breakfast, hang out at least a little bit before I come in to work. Some nights it makes no sense to go home because you have to be here at 6:00 in the morning for breakfast, so those nights I’ll sleep here. If there’s a lot of stuff going on, [my wife and I exchange] a lot of phone calls and text messages. During Spring Training, I may come [to Cleveland] for a weekend. I worked in baseball when we started dating, so she knew that this is what it is. I made it very clear that it’s a different lifestyle. She respected it and understood it, and — don’t get me wrong — it’s hard, but five years later, it’s great. That’s the beauty of being on the visiting side is that I don’t have to travel with the team constantly.

TV: Are you an Indians fan?
WJ: Of course. Fortunately, I was born and raised in Brecksville and have been a huge Tribe fan my whole life. I’m a huge Indians fan. Working here for 15-16 years, you learn to kind of temper it working on the visiting side. All these teams that come here know that I was born in Cleveland and that I’m here to do a job and to help them out and make it as comfortable as possible for them while they’re here. Am I rooting for the Indians? Yes. Every single day. Do I outwardly root for the Indians? Of course not. I’ve got to be professional. I root quietly inside.

TV: Do you have a favorite opposing team?
WJ: Everyone always asks me that question. I would tell them, I love my Central Division teams. We see them three times a year [in Cleveland], so you really get to know the guys, really get to know the teams, and you get to have a better sample of how these guys really are. Three days is really short. If you have a National League team come in or a team from the west coast, you may only get to see them those three days or a day and a half because we may play a day game on Sunday. You can’t really gauge that. The ebb and flow of baseball is so up and down that you can have a guy come in and be the nicest guy in the world, and [he comes in] again the second time and [is] 0-for-40 and [is] the hardest guy in the world to deal with. You know that when you work this job, you’ve got to take guys with a grain of salt.

TV: Is there a certain player that you look forward to seeing when they come in?
WJ: I’ve developed a really good relationship with [Seattle Mariners pitcher] Felix Hernandez over the years. Working in 2009 in the World Baseball Classic, I worked with him in that. I have a great relationship with Felix. There are a lot of great guys in this game. You can look through the roster and I can go, ‘That’s a great guy,’ or ‘I really like working with that guy.’ Every roster usually brings one or two guys that I really enjoy talking to.

TV: Has there been a memorable errand that you have run for a player?
WJ: There have been a lot of interesting ones. The most memorable would be when a former Indian came back into town. He still had a house and a car here. His car was a yellow Hummer. He came back with another team the next year on a Friday. He said, ‘Willie, I want to trade my Hummer in for a red Lincoln Navigator with similar miles. See what you can do.’ Like I said, if it falls in the realm of things that we can do for you, we’re going to try and do it. I made a whole bunch of phone calls and was able to find a red Lincoln Navigator [from] the year he wanted, similar miles, that a dealer was willing to trade straight up for his Hummer. The dealer came out here on a Sunday morning. The dealer drove off with a Hummer, and [the player] stuck around with his red Navigator.

TV: You have a wall of autographs behind your desk and several autographed items on your desk. (See photo above.) Where did that idea originate?
WJ: The wall started when I got the head job in 2007. It was just a blank wall in my office, and I had [former Minnesota Twins] Johan Santana and Carlos Silva in here. Both of them are huge jokers — huge, huge jokers — great guys, huge jokers. It was probably a month after the All-Star game. Johan had played in the All-Star game, and Major League Baseball had sent baseballs here for guys to finish signing. They were team balls that were going to go to the players, but not all guys had a chance to finish signing. MLB sent me the balls and asked me to have him sign them. I put the balls on the couch. I said, ‘Hey, Johan, Major League Baseball sent these in. I know it’s kind of a pain. Would you mind signing them?’ He said, ‘No, no problem. Willie, I love signing. I would sign anything in the world because you never know when someone’s not going to want your autograph.’ He signs the balls. I leave my office. I come back maybe 25 minutes later, the balls were done, but that wasn’t the only thing that was signed in my office. He also put his signature on one of the cinderblocks on my wall. He said, ‘I told you. I love signing. I’ll sign just about anything.’ Him and Silva started laughing. They walked out of the room, and I was like, ‘Great, what am I going to do with this signature on the wall?’ I went to my cabinet to try and find something to wipe it off. It’s a blank wall with Johan’s signature. I was going to have to explain how it got up there. I opened up my cabinet, and I looked in it. I had a ream of paper in it, and there were like 42 sheets of paper signed, ‘Johan Santana.’ For the rest of the year, I was finding things that were autographed by Johan Santana all over my office.

I talked to my staff, and I said this might be the opportunity to start a Visiting Clubhouse Wall of Fame. We established the ground rules for the wall. It’s not necessarily that you have to be a future Hall of Famer or a Hall of Famer to get up on that wall. You have to be unanimously voted by my staff; if one person has a problem with you, you’re not going to get up on the wall. If you’re just a great guy, maybe you only have one year in the big leagues but my staff loves you and you’re respectful, they may end up on the wall. If you look up there, you’re probably going to see a couple guys like that. Every time a team comes in, we sit down, you can nominate a player to be up there, we vote, and if they fall one vote short, they don’t get up there.

TV: Have you ever had the chance to celebrate with the opposing team?
WJ: Yes, but I wouldn’t phrase it as celebrating with the team; I’d say it was watching the team celebrate. We’ve had some teams clinch here. The Minnesota Twins was probably the most memorable celebration. The Twins celebration was crazy because they turned the floor of the main clubhouse into a giant slip-and-slide. We had tarps down, and with all of the champagne, it got pretty crazy in here. Needless to say, we were here until 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning, trying to clean and scrub things and replace ceiling tiles. Those guys knew how to party and have a good time.

-Megan Golden, TribeVibe contributor

Inside the Visitors’ Clubhouse: Willie Jenks

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Cleveland Indians Visiting Clubhouse Manager Willie Jenks, a graduate of Holy Name High School and Akron University, began working as a bat boy with the visiting clubhouse 16 years ago. In 2007, Jenks was promoted to Head Visiting Clubhouse Manager. Jenks caught up with TribeVibe on Saturday, discussing his typical duties during a series. Be sure to check out Part Two of TribeVibe’s interview with Jenks tomorrow.

Willie Jenks: Most of our series start in the middle of the night. We have to look and see where a team’s coming from, and then figure out how long it might take them to pack up after a game and fly here. The traveling secretaries will give us an itinerary, but that’s usually within an hour, two-hour window, barring any plane problems, customs problems, trucking problems. As soon as that plane lands, an equipment truck will be out at the airport, pull up to the plane and grab all the players’ baseball stuff first and put that in the front of the truck. Then it will grab all the players’ personal stuff, and they’ll go in the back of the truck. The truck will then go to the hotel, drop off their personal bags, so those guys can get a good night’s rest. Then the truck will come to us with all the equipment. We load up our Cushman’s, and they’ll come up here. The first thing we grab is all the wet [laundry]. It takes more time to get that washed and dried than it does to unpack the bags. One person will be scrubbing uniforms, washing and drying the clothes. This is usually about two or three in the morning or nine or ten at night on a Sunday. The rest of the staff is unpacking all the bags, taking all the trunks around. These teams travel really, really, really heavy now. You’ve got six to eight trunks for the equipment manager, the trainer’s got 10 trunks. Each player has their personal bag, and you’ve got the catchers’ bags. You get everything set up so that when these guys walk in the next day, everything’s already done for them. They come in the next day like they’ve been here for a week.

For a 7:05 game, [we] usually start at 9:30 in the morning shopping, get here around 10:30, get coffee on. Coaches and trainers start rolling through the door relatively early, 11:00-11:30. Around noon, the food room guy starts setting up the kitchen and getting ready for the first meal. The first meal we feed these guys can be burgers, turkey burgers, chicken breast sandwiches. We bring Qdoba in every three days, make wraps. We offer these guys a lot of food. We have a full deli case.

Guys come in and get changed. They’ll usually go eat. Some will watch video, some will go down to the cage, some will go outside. Some will play video games. We offer these guys a ton of options as far as video games go. We’ve got an X-Box 360, we’ve got every old-school Nintendo game ever made. A lot of guys grew up in my age range, so we brought the old-school Nintendo in. They come in and have a little bit of nostalgia. These guys spend a lot of time here, so you have to have lots of different things for them to do. Some guys will play cards, some will play cribbage, some will do crosswords. Everyone’s got their own little routine that they always have.

Around 5:10, those guys go out to stretch. When they go out to stretch, we’ll be collecting all the towels, all the dirty clothes from early batting practice. Pretty much every team takes early batting practice now around 2:00. We’ll get all that stuff washed and dried. We’ll clean everything in the clubhouse, sanitize everything down, and then my food guy will get things ready for the post-batting practice meal. These guys will come in, change out of their batting practice clothes, and go right into that food room. That’s always smoothies, ready-made salads, wraps, hot sandwiches, and when it’s cold, we’ll do soups. It kind of depends on the weather. It’s usually something light. After they eat, they’ll put on a new set of clothes for the game, they’ll go out there, and it’s more of the same for us.

Once we get to about the fifth inning, [clothes] are usually washed, dried, and we’ve got everything ready to go for after the game and the post-game meal. If any of my staff has any running around to do for these guys, they’ll take care of that then. Whether it’s Mom’s birthday and someone needs flowers, or whether it’s little Tommy’s birthday and he wants his little G.I. Joe, at that point we send someone out to get those guys what they need. My staff will make phone calls to get those guys anything they need. When you’re on the road so much, there are things that they ask for, and anything that falls into our realm of things that we can do, we try to provide for them.

Once the game’s over, guys will come in, and it’s more of the same. Washing and drying, cleaning clothes. Guys will stick around for usually an hour, hour and a half after the game. Then after that, it’s usually another two or three hours for us cleaning. Then we’re out of here. That usually ends somewhere between 1:00 and 3:00 in the morning, depending on what’s going on.

-Megan Golden, TribeVibe contributor

Indians Game Information: April 20 vs. Blue Jays

Lonnie Chisenhall throws the runner out from third base.

CLEVELAND INDIANS (7-10) vs. TORONTO BLUE JAYS (10-8)

RHP Carlos Carrasco (0-2, 7.84) vs. RHP Brandon Morrow (1-1, 5.52)

Game #18/Home #9 » Sun., April 20, 2014 » Progressive Field » 1:05 p.m. (ET) » SportsTime Ohio, WTAM/WMMS/IRN

PICKED A BAD TIME TO BE IN LOVE

» The Indians dropped their third consecutive decision on Saturday afternoon – and second straight to Toronto – getting shut out 5-0 by southpaw MARK BUEHRLE (7.0+IP, 4 H) and the Blue Jays…COREY KLUBER (6.2 IP) worked into the 7th inning, but was touched for 5 runs (4 earned) on 9 hits…Cleveland was held to a season-low 4 hits, including just 2 from the 3rd inning on.

» Entering Saturday, the Indians had been one of 5 teams in the Majors that had yet to be shut out this season…that list is now confined to the Angels, Dodgers, Giants and Rangers.

WINS & LOSSES

» At 7-10 (.412), Cleveland is 3 games below the .500 mark to establish a new low water-mark for the season…Tribe’s high watermark of 2014 is 2 games above the .500 mark on April 4 (3-1) & April 9-G1 (5-3).

» Cleveland has lost 3 straight games to match club’s longest losing streak of the season (also April 9 G2-April 11)…Tribe has lost 4 of 5 and 7 of 9 after starting the year by winning 5 of first 8.

» Cleveland is 0-2 to begin a 7-day, 7-game homestand against Toronto (0-2) & Kansas City (4 games)…Tribe finished recent weather-shortened 8-day, 6-game road trip at 2-4 thru Chicago-AL (1-3) & Detroit (1-1)…club went 3-3 on first homestand of season vs. Minnesota (1-2) and San Diego (2-1)…Tribe began the year with a brief 3-game road trip, during which Tribe took 2 of 3 from Oakland, improving to 27-9 against the A.L. West since start of 2013 campaign…Cleveland will end April with a West Coast trip.

» Tribe is below the .500 mark both at Progressive Field (3-5) and one game below the .500 mark (4-5) on the road…team has gone 4-3 in night games, but 3-7 during the day.

A.L. CENTRAL STANDINGS

» Cleveland holds 5th place in the A.L. Central standings, trailing Detroit (8-6) & Kansas City (9-7) – both tied for first place – by 2.5 games…only division with a smaller margin separating all 5 teams is A.L. East (Yankees & Red Sox separated by 2.0 games)…Tribe has spent 2 days in 1st place, 9 days in 2nd place, 4 days in 3rd place, 2 days in 4th place and 3 days in 5th place.

» The Indians are 3-6 against A.L. Central opponents (went 44-32 in 2013) and 4-4 outside the division.

SERIES STUFF

» Now assured of a series loss to Toronto, the Indians are 2-3-1 in 6 series played so far this season (1-2-0 at home, 1-1-1 on the road)…Tribe winless in last 3 series (0-2-1).

» Cleveland enters this afternoon’s tilt with a 1-4 record in series finales this season, dropping 4 straight since winning the Tribe’s first series finale in Oakland…club was 30-23 in finales last season.

ONE BRIGHT DAY

» Ten of Cleveland’s 17 tilts so far have been day games, but the Indians are just 3-7 (.300) in those contests…Tribe’s 10 day games played are 2nd-most in the A.L. & 4th in Majors behind Minnesota (13) and Chicago-NL/Cincinnati (11 each).

» Offense is batting just .238 (79-332) w/ a .696 OPS (.325OBP/.370SLG) in those 10 day games, while averaging 4.1 runs-per-game (41 R/10 G).

» Pitching staff has a 4.43 ERA (43 ER/87.1 IP) in day games, allowing 8 more runs (49) than Tribe’s offense has scored.

» Tribe went 34-20 (.630) in day games last season, the 2nd-best win pct. in the A.L. behind Boston at .651 (28-15).

SOUTH OF CANADA

» Cleveland has been held to 4 runs-or-less in 14 of the team’s last 16 games against Toronto dating back to the 2011 campaign (6-10 record).

» The Indians held a 4-2 advantage over the Blue Jays in 2013 (1st winning season vs. TOR since 6-4 mark in 2010), taking 2 of 3 at each ballpark…Cleveland’s offense was held to 4 runs-or-less in 5 of 6 meetings – including all 4 of team’s victories – as the Tribe’s pitching staff registered a 2.95 ERA (18 ER/55.0 IP) and one team SHO vs. TOR last season, including a 1.72 mark (9ER/47.0IP) in the 5 games in which Cleveland plated 4 runs-or-less.

» Cleveland has gone 50-35 (.588) all-time time vs. Toronto here at Progressive Field, but just 4-8 vs. the visiting Jays since start of 2011.

PANCHO & LEFTY

» With Saturday’s loss to Buehrle & the Blue Jays, Cleveland fell to 1-6 this season when facing a left-handed opposing starter…based on known probables, the Tribe is scheduled to face 3 straight righthanders before ending their 4-game series against Kansas City with back-to-back lefties (Vargas/Chen).

 

ANSWER THE BELL indians at a glance

» Cleveland’s pitching staff owns a 4.25 ERA (70ER/148.1IP), 10th in the A.L. this season…starting rotation’s 5.03 ERA (52 ER/93.0IP) is 3rd-highest in MLB ahead of only Arizona (7.50) and Minnesota (5.36), although Tribe hurlers have worked at least 6.0 innings w/2 runs-or-less in 3 of their last 5 starts (rotation avg.’ing almost 5.2 IP-per-start overall).

» Despite somewhat inflated numbers overall, the Indians pitching staff has worked 21.0 consecutive innings without surrendering a home run, as IAN KINSLER’s 3-run shot in the 5th inning of Thursday’s 7-5 loss at Detroit is the only big fly allowed by the Tribe over the last 4 games & 35.0 innings pitched.

AT THE BACK END

» With 2.1 scoreless frames yesterday, the Tribe’s bullpen has been largely effective thru first few weeks of the season, posting a 2.93 ERA (18 ER/55.1 IP) – 3rd in the A.L. – & a .212 (43-203) avg. against, 4th in A.L.

» Indians relievers have stranded 23 of 26 inherited runners for an A.L.-best 88.5% success rate, 2nd in the Majors behind only Los Angeles-NL (88.9%, 24-27).

INSIDE LOOKING OUT

» With 7 more men left on base last night and 19 in this series against Toronto, Cleveland has stranded 134 runners this season (nearly 8-per-game), 4th-most in the A.L. & T5th-most in MLB.

» The Indians are hitting just .208 (32-154) w/ runners in scoring position as a team, 12th in the A.L.

» The Indians are 0-for-14 w/ RISP thru 2 games of this series; meanwhile, the Blue Jays have gone 7-for-19 (.368)…over last 5 games, Tribe is batting .140 (6-43) w/ RISP.

» Cleveland is also hitting just .178 (30-169) with 2 outs, 2nd-lowest in the A.L. ahead of Houston (.138), as Brantley (.300, 6-20) is the only player with a qualifying two-out batting avg. above the .300 mark…6 of Brantley’s team-leading 14 RBI have come with 2 outs…after finishing with the 6th-most two-out runs in the Majors last season (292 of 745, 39%), Cleveland has plated 19 of the team’s 71 overall runs with two outs (26.8%).

GAME OF THRONES

» At the conclusion of this weekend set vs. Toronto, the Indians are set to finish their homestand with a 4-game set against the Kansas City Royals…Cleveland narrowly edged KC in the 2013 season series, winning 10 of 19 meetings, including 6 of 9 here at Progressive Field.

» Last season, the Royals (86-76) finished 3rd in the A.L. Central standings, 7 games behind first-place Detroit and 6.0 games behind 2nd-place Cleveland.

ARROWHEADS

» Cleveland’s record through 17 games this season (7-10) matches club’s record through 17 games in 2013…club dropped 3 of next 4 to fall to 8-13 before a stretch that saw the Indians win 18 of their next 22 games, rising to 26-17.

» The Indians have played 17 games w/o going to extra innings this season, one of 6 teams yet to participate in bonus baseball…LAA, LAD & OAK lead Majors w/ 4 extra-inn. games each…Toronto has played one extra-inn. contest (12-inn. 2-1 loss 4/12 at BAL).

» Cleveland has lost both Sunday contests played this season and has gone 1-4 on weekends…Tribe was 36-18 in weekend games last year (18-9 on Sundays).

» Cleveland’s staff has averaged 9.47 SO/9.0 IP (156SO/148.1IP), 2nd-most in Majors behind only Washington (9.91SO/9.0 IP)…the Indians’ 156 K’s overall are T2nd-most in the A.L. with Toronto behind only Boston (158) and T5th-most in Majors.

» DH JASON GIAMBI (fractured rib) is expected to be activated from the 15-day DL on Monday…has appeared in 3G w/ Double-A Akron during rehab assignment.

THIS DAY IN MUSIC

» 1969: Influential Motown session drummer Benny Benjamin (“Papa Zita”) passed away at the age of 43 in Detroit, MI; Benjamin laid down drum tracks for hit singles like “Money (That’s What I Want)”, “My Girl”, “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” and was credited with coining the name “Funk Brothers” to refer to his Motown studio bandmates…1996: Mark Morrison’s “Return of the Mack” debuted

at No. 1 on the UK singles chart…2012: With the man himself onhand, the city of Austin, TX unveiled a statue of Willie Nelson in front of the Moody Theater, where “Austin City Limits” is taped.

» BORN ON THIS DAY: (1948) Craig Frost, keyboardist for Grand Funk Railroad and Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band; (1951) Luther Vandross; (1972) Stephen Marley, son of Bob & member of the Melody Makers.

Indians Game Information, March 21

CLEVELAND INDIANS (14-9-2) at ARIZONA DIAMONBACKS (12-12-2)
RHP Carlos Carrasco (1-1 5.54) vs. RHP Ian Kennedy (0-1, 6.35)
TV: SportsTime Ohio

BROADCAST INFORMATION: This  afternoon’s Indians/Diamondbacks game can be seen on SportsTime Ohio at 4:10 ET.

NIGHT MOVES: This  morning,  the Indians announced  several  roster moves relative to  the  Major League spring training roster,  as  the  club optioned  LHP SCOTT BARNES, RHP TREVOR BAUER and RHP COREY KLUBER to Triple-A Columbus, while re-assigning non-roster invitee LHP GIOVANNI SOTO to Minor League camp.

CAMP BREAKDOWN: The  Cleveland  Indians  currently  have 40  players  in  major league camp, which includes 10 non-roster invitees; this consists of 19 pitchers (4 non-roster, 2 DL), 5 catchers (2 non-roster), 10 infielders (3 non-roster) and 6 outfielders (1 non-roster)…the Indians had a total of 64 players in major league camp for the start of Cactus League play; which included 24 non-roster invitees in addition to players on the 40-man roster.

A DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH: The Indians travel to Talking Stick today to take on the Arizona Diamondbacks in the ¿ rst of back-to-backs and home-and-homes to end the spring series  as  quickly as it  started…Cleveland will host Arizona tomorrow in Goodyear…the Indians won the first 2 tilts against Arizona last season 10-2 (March 7 in Scottsdale) and 3-2 (March 12 in Goodyear) before a split squad fell in the spring finale 5-4 (March 29 in Scottsdale)…the Tribe is 6-4 all-time against the  Snakes in Cactus League play since 2009…Cleveland holds a 7-5 edge in the all-time series during regular season play, winning 5 of the last 6 billings.

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Today’s Lineups

Cleveland

24  Michael Bourn  CF
13  Asdrubal Cabrera SS
8  Lonnie Chisenhall  3B
33  Nick Swisher  RF
23  Michael Brantley  LF
12 Mark Reynolds  1B
9  Ryan Raburn  2B
68  Omin Santos  CA

59 Carlos Carrasco  RHP

Arizona

6  Adam Eaton  CF
14  Martin Prado  LF
12  Eric Chavez  3B
2 Aaron Hill  2B
26  Miguel Montero  C
22 Eric Hinske  1B
13  Jason Kubel  RF
18  Willie Bloomquist  SS

31  Ian Kennedy RHP

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View Today’s Gamenotes Here

Indians’ World Baseball Classic participants eager for competition

Indians catcher Carlos Santana, who will play for the Dominican Republic in the upcoming World Baseball Classic,  interacts with young Indians fans at Tribe Fest on Saturday. (Kyle Emery photo)

Indians catcher Carlos Santana, who will play for the Dominican Republic in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, interacts with young fans at Tribe Fest on Saturday. (Kyle Emery photo)

With six members of the Cleveland Indians on World Baseball Classic rosters, there stands to be some friendly trash talk when Spring Training opens next month in Goodyear, Ariz.

Indians relievers Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez will help the United States squad, which has finished no better than fourth, take on some of the sport’s very big boys in the third installment of the WBC: Indians teammates Carlos Santana (Dominican Republic) and Asdrubal Cabrera (Venezuela) are members of teams loaded with Major League stars, while new Indians infielder Mike Aviles – and Tribe farmhand Giovanni Soto — join Yadier Molina (Cardinals), Carlos Beltran (Cardinals) and Alex Rios (White Sox) on the Puerto Rico team.

“There will be some back and forth, and that’s all part of it,” said Pestano, who with Perez formed one of the most feared bullpen duos in the majors last season. “Hopefully we get a chance to go against (Cabrera) and Carlos. Their teams are loaded.

“Maybe it’ll come down to us being the 1980 (U.S.) Winter Olympic hockey team: (Coach Herb Brooks said) ‘We’re not looking for the best ones, we’re looking for the right ones,’” he said with a smile.

The U.S., though, is no slouch, and the team’s pitching depth, especially in the bullpen, made Pestano unsure whether he’d even be included. Pestano, who in 2012 set a single-season club record with 36 holds, and Perez, who had 39 saves, are joined by Craig Kimbrel (Braves), Jeremy Affeldt (Giants) and Mitch Boggs (Cardinals), among others, in the bullpen, while Mark Teixeira (Yankees), Brandon Phillips (Reds), Ryan Braun (Brewers) and Giancarlo Stanton (Marlins) highlight the lineup.

The rotation includes 2012 National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey, now of the Blue Jays, the Giants’ Ryan Vogelsong and Atlanta’s Kris Medlen, among others.

“I’m very confident in (U.S. manager Joe Torre) and the team,” Pestano said. “Chris and I both are pumped about it; we obviously have a great dynamic. I’m not sure how it’s going to play out with the opportunities to pitch, because we have a lot of great arms. But … it would be special if me and Chris in any given day were given the ball to shut it down like we do during the regular season.”

What always was certain was the Indians’ representatives’ desire to play.

“I like the event because I’m from the Dominican and it gives me a chance to play for my country,” said Santana, who hit 18 homers and drove in 76 runs in his second full season in the majors in 2012. “Talking with (fellow Dominicans) Robinson Cano (Yankees) and Melky Cabrera (Blue Jays), they were all going and told me that the WBC is a good event.”

Indians infielder Mike Aviles will play for Puerto Rico in the WBC.

Indians infielder Mike Aviles will play for Puerto Rico in the WBC. (Kyle Emery photo)

Aviles, meanwhile, played for Puerto Rico in 2009 and is honored to again be donning the country’s uniform.

“I heard about it during the summer of last year, that it was a possibility, and I was open to it because I was excited to play in the last one, and it’s always an honor to put on a jersey of that caliber,” Aviles said. “I was just waiting to hear anything this offseason. … It’s just a matter of, I got the call, and it was made official, so I was pumped about it and excited, and I’m excited to put that jersey on again.”

Aviles was acquired from the Blue Jays in November along with Yan Gomes, who is the first Brazilian player to play in the major leagues and is considering playing for his home country in the WBC. Gomes is weighing playing against remaining at Spring Training with the Indians, in an effort to familiarize himself with his new organization and increase his chances of making the Indians’ Opening Day roster.

Meanwhile, the trade that brought the duo to Cleveland, along with playing in the WBC, has made for an interesting offseason for Aviles.

“I’m just pumped for the whole tournament and everything. I’ve got a lot of new stuff going on this year, between (playing for) Puerto Rico and (coming over to) the Indians, and I’m excited for this season just because there’s so much new, that I’m just excited for the upcoming season.”

Pestano, in interviews and on Twitter, made no bones about his desire to participate.

“I had heard from the end of the year that I had a chance to be on the team, but the list of possible players had to become a lot shorter,” Pestano said. “I didn’t know how I was going to fit in and the process was going down.”

The tournament starts with pool play – the U.S. is grouped in Pool D with Canada, Mexico and Italy — in Japan, Taiwan, Puerto Rico and Arizona from March 2-12. The next round, from March 8-16, will be in Tokyo and Miami, with the final portion set for March 17-19 at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

Japan has won both World Baseball Classics.

United States World Baseball Classic roster
Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees
Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds
Jimmy Rollins, SS, Phillies
David Wright, 3B, Mets
Joe Mauer, C, Twins
Jonathan Lucroy, C, Brewers
J.P. Arencibia, C, Blue Jays
Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers
Adam Jones, OF, Orioles
Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Marlins
Shane Victorino, OF, Red Sox
Ben Zobrist, INF, Rays
Willie Bloomquist, INF, Diamondbacks
R.A. Dickey, SP, Blue Jays
Ryan Vogelsong, SP, Giants
Derek Holland, SP, Rangers
Kris Medlen, SP, Braves
Craig Kimbrel, RP, Braves
Heath Bell, RP, Diamondbacks
Chris Perez, RP, Indians
Vinnie Pestano, RP, Indians
Luke Gregerson, RP, Padres
Glen Perkins, RP, Twins
Steve Cishek, Marlins
Jeremy Affeldt, RP, Giants
Tim Collins, RP, Royals
Mitchell Boggs, RP, Cardinals

–TribeVibe contributors Joel Hammond and Max Lom

Inside Working in Sports: Omar Jufko (Part 3)

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TribeVibe chatted with Cleveland Indians Dockmaster Omar Jufko, a graduate of Cleveland State University with degrees in Sports Management and Public Relations, to get the inside track on how to break into the highly coveted sports industry. Jufko began working as a Visiting Clubhouse Intern under fellow TribeVibe star and Head Visiting Clubhouse Manager, Willie Jenks. Since 2009, Omar has worked in the Visiting and Home Clubhouses and the Indians Executive Office Front Desk. In 2012, Jufko was promoted to Dockmaster within the Ballpark Operations department. Jufko was kind enough to meet with TribeVibe to discuss his journey through the Indians Organization.

TV: How did you transition to being the Dockmaster?

OJ: The job was open and I saw it as an opportunity to take another step. I went from being unpaid, to being paid but still part-time/seasonal, to having a full-time position in the face of the general public. I looked forward to having another full-time position that dealt more with the infrastructure of the organization. It was another chance to challenge myself. I’ve never dealt with shipping and receiving from a big scope before so, I knew I was going to have to learn on the fly. It was just another challenge. The day you stop challenging yourself and become complacent is the day you should just hang it up.

TV: For those who are not familiar with what a “Dockmaster” is, can you tell us what the job entails?

OJ: 75% to 80% is basic shipping and receiving, but not like a mom and pop corner shop – it’s a huge organization with huge needs. I’m  talking player personnel and equipment, 53-foot TV trucks for broadcasts, all the freight  for merchandising all of the goods that come in for Corporate Partnerships, print materials for Communications, electronics and tech gear for Information Systems and I touch every part of this business on a daily basis. In-season, I have a staff of about 20 security guys in fixed points throughout the ballpark. I have my own assistant that helps with the shipping and receiving. My personal mission with him is to help him grow and evolve professionally and in his personal life as well. When I started I was about his age – early 20’s – and Willie was a mentor to me so, I’d like to pay that guidance forward to someone else. My mentors definitely helped me find myself.

TV: That’s an interesting point, what advice would you give to young people trying to find themselves professionally? Especially people in their 20’s who are working but, would like to on a path toward upward mobility?

OJ: You really need to take a long hard look at the opportunities that you may or may not have in front of you. It’s a lot of soul searching. Sometimes you have to veer off the road that you want, to do something else but, always know in the back of your mind where you ultimately want to be [in your career]. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Sometimes the decision isn’t so easy. Keep your goals in focus and make sure your [career choices] keep in line with that.

Just think about what you and I are doing right now, we’re sitting in an empty ballpark. Sometimes you get these surreal moments [working here]. I’ve hung out with the Yankees in the Visiting Clubhouse or have taken someone’s Mercedes to the airport but, it’s the little things like this that matter most to me – sitting here in a quiet ballpark. It’s almost like my home; I spend the better part of my year here.

TV: We do spend a lot of time here. Tell us about the time commitments of working in this industry for those who may not know.

OJ: It’s intense! It’s unlike most professions – outside of an ER doctor or someone in medicine. You’re looking at 15-20 hour workdays depending on your assignment. Fans see the show when it’s on TV but really have no idea all the work it takes to pull the ballpark experience off.

TV: How do you balance your personal life?

OJ: I see my work life as a parallel to the game of baseball. It’s all a process, a grind and a routine. I arrive here early, around 5 or 5:30AM, get a work out in, get to my desk by 6AM, answer all my e-mails and get ready for the first shipments at 7AM. I try to stay focused and on task so I don’t get stressed.

TV: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

OJ: Hunger and humility. Never be complacent and always look for the next step. At the same time, understand that you’re not above anyone or any task.

-Erin Parker, TribeVibe Contributor

 

 

Inside Working in Sports: Omar Jufko (Part 2)

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TribeVibe chatted with Cleveland Indians Dockmaster Omar Jufko, a graduate of Cleveland State University with degrees in Sports Management and Public Relations, to get the inside track on how to break into the highly coveted sports industry. Jufko began working as a Visiting Clubhouse Intern under fellow TribeVibe star and Head Visiting Clubhouse Manager, Willie Jenks. Since 2009, Omar has worked in the Visiting and Home Clubhouses and the Indians Executive Office Front Desk. In 2012, Jufko was promoted to Dockmaster within the Ballpark Operations department. Jufko was kind enough to meet with TribeVibe to discuss his journey through the Indians Organization.

TV: What’s the biggest challenge facing Sports Management majors today?

OJ: Too many people romanticize the idea of working in sports and think they’ll graduate and work for someone like Scott Boras or work shoulder to shoulder with Alex Rodriguez. That will most likely not happen. If that’s their goal they should keep their eye on the prize, but focus on their specialty whether it’s PR, marketing or finance and go after it. From the outside looking it, this looks like the greatest job on the planet – not to say that it isn’t but, there’s always this misconception that all we do is hang out with athletes. People should really realize the hard work you need to put in to be successful in this industry.

TV: So why did you leave the Home Clubhouse to manage the Executive Office Front Desk?

OJ: I wanted to learn more and expand what I do here [at the organization]. I needed security and to evolve. It’s such a short ceiling down there [in the clubhouse]. For as much as I loved it, I knew I had advance myself as a professional and diversify myself and my resume. I saw the Front Desk opportunity to prove myself to the organization that [I] was willing to wear multiple hats. The Front Desk role is unique and it doesn’t get the credit that it deserves. The person in that job is the first and last impression to everyone who enters our building. It’s very much a help desk; you can get out of towners asking where they can get a good meal all the way to the Fortune 500 Execs coming to meet with Mark Shapiro or Mr. Dolan. It’s sort of like the Clubhouse where no two days are exactly the same. You’re always on your toes.

TV: Since you were the front lines of the office, what’s your perspective on our fans?

OJ: They’re hungry. This city is just hungry for sustained success from our teams. At the same time they’re a little impatient, understandably so because they have been waiting so long. I believe in the guys we have here on the field. Baseball is one of those games where you get five or six pieces to gel and grow together and you build around that. Anything is possible.  I tried to project to the fans that would walk into the Front Office. I wanted people to recognize that good things were happening around here.

TV: That’s going above and beyond your job description. What made you go the extra mile to connect with the fans?

OJ: Is it too corny to say that I felt like it was my duty? Particularly in that role, I don’t think many people in the organization – outside of game day staff – get a chance to interact with fans so intimately as the person that sits at the Front Desk. I felt like I needed to make a good impression. Unfortunately, we’re in a situation where we need to win over as many hearts and minds as possible. Most of the staff in the organization cannot control what goes on on-the-field, but we can control our personal interactions and business relationships. So that was the attitude I took that job with. Look the part, speak the part and project a positive image because there has been negative energy around the club for some years now – from a general public standpoint.

 

-Erin Parker, TribeVibe Contributor

 

Inside Working in Sports: Omar Jufko (Part 1)

 

photo (28)So, you want to be a Sports Management major? Are you in a quest to snag a job with a sports franchise? Well, TribeVibe chatted with Cleveland Indians Dockmaster Omar Jufko, a graduate of Cleveland State University with degrees in Sports Management and Public Relations, to get the inside track on how to break into the highly coveted sports industry. Jufko began working as a Visiting Clubhouse Intern under fellow TribeVibe star and Head Visiting Clubhouse Manager, Willie Jenks. Since 2009, Omar has worked in the Visiting and Home Clubhouses and the Indians Executive Office Front Desk. In 2012, Jufko was promoted to Dockmaster within the Ballpark Operations department. Jufko was kind enough to meet with TribeVibe to discuss his journey through the Indians Organization.

TribeVibe: What made you want to be a Sports Management Major?

Omar Jufko: Growing up I was always really active. I never excelled at any one sport but, I played everything. I played football, baseball, soccer, track, basketball. I was always actively involved in athletics. My Father was a Browns Season Ticket Holder for 30+ years and he was a Season Ticket Holder with [the Indians] from 1989 through 1999. [Sports] were always in my life growing up. There was never one point where I said “I’m going to do this as a career,” but I always knew I was going to be involved in athletics.

In school, I studied Public Relations and Sports Management while at Cleveland State. While I was at Cleveland State, I worked for the basketball team; first, as a student manager – where I was nothing more than a towel boy my freshman year.  I made enough of an impression that by the time my sophomore year rolled around, [Cleveland State] said to me ‘Here’s X amount of dollars, hire a staff and we’ll pay you through work study.’ So I became the head manager. I handled all my staff, all the player course scheduling, connected them with tutors and any additional academic help they needed. Mostly, I handled all of the road trip logistics – all the busing, food, workout plans and itineraries for road trips. I t takes so much effort and man power to move a team from city to city. So, it got my gears going and made me think that this could be a legitimate career choice.

TV: What initially kept you motivated to take on that job while still going to school?

OJ: [Motivation] is something that had been instilled in me by – as cheesy as it sounds – by my parents. When I was 14 or 15, I played soccer the summer before I started High School and Reebok had come out with this cleat called the Sidewinder. I just wanted a pair of Sidewinders really bad. I think these Sidewinders were $100. Back then in 1997, that price was just insane for a pair of cleats. I remember approaching my parents about it and they said, ‘Ok, walk down the street to the supermarket, fill out an application, get a job, and once you get your first paycheck you’ll have enough to buy your own cleats.’ That was always the mindset of my household – if you want something, you work hard, you’ll be able to get it. And that’s probably the greatest lesson I’ve ever gotten from my parents. Humility and work ethic.

[My family], we’re working class. A lot of people in [Cleveland] are. I grew up 15 minutes from [Progressive Field]. I grew up in the concrete jungle and that’s always grounded me. I’ve always had the mindset that no one is going to give me anything. I’m not the world’s smartest man, but I know I can always rely on my work ethic, accountability, and quality of work.

TV: How did you start with the Indians?

OJ: Well, I spent a year and a half after I graduated college in Brazil working for a basketball team and expected that it would be easy for me to land a job in Professional Sports and it didn’t happen that way. So, I started working for the Gap as a merchandiser basically dressing mannequins overnight and doing new floor sets for the store. After a year, I decided I was either going to work in Public Relations or I was going to try one more time to get into sports.

I saw a Visiting Clubhouse Intern posted on Indians.com. It was an unpaid internship under Willie Jenks the current Visiting Clubhouse Manager. I had some exposure to this world because I had a friend in high school that worked in the Indians Clubhouse. So, I already knew the basics of the job – you show up, load the equipment and do whatever is necessary for the team. So I thought ‘What the hell I’ll apply for it.’ Willie had over 300 applicants for the job and only brought in three people for interviews and I was one of the lucky few and got the job, thankfully.  I was the first intern in Cleveland Indians Clubhouse history.

TV: So was it just dumb luck and timing?

OJ: It’s really a little bit of everything. I like to believe that my experiences at Cleveland State and in Brazil played a role in getting me the job. I definitely felt that Willie and I always had a level of comfort with one another, and we still are very close. It’s special to have someone in your professional life that you can sit down with and be very candid with, vent when you need to vent but, also work through the issues of the daily grind.

TV: Do you find that relationships (like yours with Willie) are essential to your longevity with the organization?

OJ: Absolutely and it’s probably the same across all industries, but especially here. You give up so much of your time and your personal life for this industry. [People who work in baseball] give up sort of the prime time of the year. When the sun is out and people are having fun, you’re at work grinding away. It’s a lot of time commitment, a lot of stress, but then again, we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t enjoy doing it.

Willie Jenks (left) and Omar Jufko (right).

Willie Jenks (left) and Omar Jufko (right).

TV: Tell us about your experience working in the Visiting Clubhouse.

OJ: I worked with Willie and felt that the season went really well. I learned how to run off 4-5 hours of sleep in a 48 hour window. Just the inner workings of baseball. Many people think that we lay dormant 4-5 months out of the year in the off-season, but business continues 12 months out of the year – we never stop. After the 2009 season had ended, I saw an opening for a Clubhouse Manager for Lake County so, I spoke to Willie about it, got his recommendation, got the Home Clubhouse Manager’s recommendation. Then about a few days later, the Indians came to me and asked me to stay and I said ‘I’m in,’ and I became part of the Home Clubhouse staff for the 2010 season.

TV: What’s the most memorable moment from working in the clubhouse?

OJ: I always joke with people when I get that question. There are probably two answers to that question. One answer I probably will never be able to tell you (Sorry, TribeVibe Fans) because it’s one of those guarded secrets that could probably be exposed in a book one day. To nail down one experience or one memory might be too hard because you find yourself in so many different situations – one day it could be picking up a top player from the airport, another day it could be helping a player purchase a car. I truly think the camaraderie is what stands out to me most. You’re in the eye of the storm, if you will, you see the good, the bad and the ugly. [Guys in the Clubhouse] have more exposure to [the players] than [the players’] families do and you see that human side to professional athletes that a lot of people will never get the chance to see. I know how hard those [players] work and anytime something great happens to [the team] they deserve it. Just the Cleveland kid in me wants the team to do well. The friend and Indians personnel side of me wants them to do well because I truly think they deserve it.

-Erin Parker, TribeVibe Contributor

Get to know Wayne Peltz: Visiting Clubhouse Assistant Manager, Aspiring Lego Block Artist

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As the Visiting Clubhouse Assistant Manager, Wayne Peltz already has plenty to keep him busy. But when Peltz decided to try out a new hobby in late 2009, he never imagined it would lead to a thriving side-business with his customer base including some of the biggest names in baseball. Peltz’s custom lego portraits have become a hit with players and fans alike, and his position in the clubhouse has proven a perfect outlet to promote his various projects.

TribeVibe recently spoke with Peltz to get the full story on his lego portraits.

TribeVibe: How did you first get the idea to make the lego portraits?
Wayne Peltz: A few years back I was working here, and we had an Indians player by the name of Jamey Carroll. Jamey Carroll did these little index size drawings in pencil – they looked really cool. Then he’d have big-time players – Jeter, Pujols – they’d sign them no questions asked. They’d drop whatever they were doing and just sign these things. I thought to myself: I want to get to that point where the guys are looking to sign something for me and I don’t have to bother them by saying: ‘can you sign this ball?’

TV: Why did you choose to use legos?
WP: I tried to draw at first and I couldn’t do it, and so the very next thing I actually picked up was lego blocks. I started buying them on EBay and trying to find colors I didn’t have, and just started going at it – while my Wife, or my girlfriend at the time, looked at me like I was crazy.

TV: What was the first project you completed?
WP: The first one I did was Jim Thome. I chose him because I felt like even if it turned out complete trash he was going to be a guy that was going to be encouraging. He was going to be a guy that would say ‘Oh, it looks just like me – thanks, Wayne.’

TV: How did you begin selling your portraits?
WP: I remember when [Thome] was signing it, (former Indians Pitcher) Carl Pavano was looking over his shoulder and said, “Jimmy that’s awesome – are you gonna buy that or what?” And I told them it’s not for sale – I wanted the first one for myself. And [Pavano] said, “well then I want one of me,” and that was one of the first ones I sold.

TV: When did you begin selling them?
WP: Probably 2010 – I probably started making them at the end of 2009.

TV: How long do they take to make?
WP: It varies by the size, by the colors, by how difficult they can be overall. A typical one usually takes me around 20 hours to work with and that includes me trying to design it and all that.

TV: How did word get out among other players?
WP: [Visiting Clubhouse Manager] Willie Jenks let me hang them up, so what happened was after I did Thome, I brought it in uncompleted because the White Sox had come in and they saw it as I was building it. Once I brought it in the players thought it looked like him, and then after I had done this one, the players started asking me about making different ones.

TV: How many have you made so far?
WP: I have probably made about 50. Most of them are based around players.

TV: Have you made any non-baseball portraits?
WP: I did a Michael Jackson, that was the second one I did, but then I said ‘I want to do more baseball players’, and I thought it would be really cool if they would sign it. So I did Johan Santana after that because he was always a big clown when he came in here, and I knew the Mets were coming the next year.

TV: What are some recent portraits you’ve made?
WP: I just finished up one for a guy in New York of Gary Carter. The guy that bought it bought it as a gift for a big Mets fan, so the actual person will see it at his birthday party. I’ve done Josh Willingham, I’ve done C.C. Sabathia – that was the biggest one I’ve ever done. I also did these cats for a lady who sent me a picture of them.

TV: How many have you finished this season?
WP: This season, probably 10 or 12. For the most part Sabathia kind of killed me because it took like two or three months just to work on his. Every day was just a small part of it, and it took so long to do.

TV: Do you have to deliver the portraits to customers?
WP: I do [deliver them] – the outrageous size ones are not the easiest ships…The smaller sizes ship fine. The Post Office, they’re the way to go. They just don’t send the outrageous size unfortunately.

TV: Have you received any media attention in the past?
WP: I did NPR radio, and they take you down to this big room, and told me a guy from D.C. was going to call in. They gave me a headset and told me to talk into this giant microphone with no one else in the room. It was a little weird, but it went really well in the end. I’ve done NPR, I’ve done ESPN Page 2, I was in the New York Times and the Plain Dealer a couple times.

Additional information and a full gallery of his work can be found on his website, OneBy1Art.com

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