Hey Tribe fans, we're serious about winning! Casey Blake is going to get the bulk of the time at first place over our promising first base prospect! Come buy season tickets, we're trying!!
Even if Garko makes the team, his playing time will be severely limited, at least theoretically. His primary path to the plate must go through Casey Blake, who is scheduled to play first base most of the time.
But Blake also is one of two right fielders and will play the outfield when an opposing left-hander starts. Recently signed Trot Nixon will be the right fielder against righties, thus getting most of the playing time.
When Blake plays the outfield, Garko will play first, which means he might receive only 150-175 at-bats. Wedge probably will look for more, but aside from an occasional pinch-hitting appearance, it will be difficult as long as ``The Plan'' remains in effect.
Last season, in 50 games Garko had 54 hits, 45 RBI, 12 doubles and 7 home runs in just 185 ABs.
To compare, in 109 games Blake had 113 hits, 68 RBI, 20 doubles and 19 home runs in 401 ABs.
Maybe you think Garko had the benefit of anonymity; pitchers didn't know about him and they didn't have video. Fine. However, as Terry Pluto will tell you, Garko has always hit:
It's also curious how the Indians are willing to dismiss Garko's overall performance as a hitter in the minors, partly because he batted .247 with 15 home runs and 59 RBI in 103 games at Class AAA Buffalo before being recalled. But Garko batted .303 at Class AAA Buffalo in 2005. He hit .330, primarily at Class A Kinston and Class AA Akron in 2004. Garko always has been a good hitter.Here's my money quote, take as you will:
Garko has leaned on Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner, an MVP candidate with a locker next to his.
"I talk a lot with Travis about hitting," Garko said. "If something comes up, he'll pull me aside and break down an at-bat, whether it's one of mine or one of his. He has a great understanding of what pitchers are trying to do. I've learned a tremendous amount from him already."
Hafner is happy to assist.
"He has a real interest in hitting," Hafner said. "He likes picking the minds of the veterans, trying to get better and learn as much as he can. I remember as a rookie how nice it was to have guys around who could show you the ropes and make you feel comfortable.
"Based on what I've seen, he has a chance to be a really good hitter."