October 23, 2014

Medina
Mostly cloudy
44°F

FBI affidavit says Browns owner knew about rebate fraud

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — An FBI agent’s affidavit says a Pilot Flying J employee told authorities that Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam knew about rebate fraud at the truck stop chain his family owns. The 120-page document was filed Thursday in federal court in Knoxville, where Pilot is based. It identifies the employee only as Read More…

Panel overturns suspension of Browns LB Scott Fujita

BEREA – Browns linebacker Scott Fujita is eligible to play Sunday in the season opener against the Eagles after the suspension of four players was overturned this afternoon by a review panel.

Despite not practicing all week – Fujita wasn’t allowed to have contact with the team – Fujita could start. He’s in his 11th year in the NFL and would replace undrafted rookie L.J. Fort on the strong side.

“I don’t see a reason why he can’t play,” coach Pat Shurmur said.

The players had been suspended for their alleged roles in the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal. Fujita has maintained throughout the process he never paid a teammate to injure another player.

Commissioner Roger Goodell may still discipline the players.

The NFL issued a statement: “Consistent with the panel’s decision, Commissioner Goodell will, as directed, make an expedited determination of the discipline imposed for violating the league’s pay-for-performance/bounty rule. Until that determination is made, the four players are reinstated and eligible to play starting this weekend.”

Fujita’s suspension was for three games and he started serving it Saturday. He spent the week working out at Baldwin-Wallace University and tweeted he could hear the horns and whistles from Browns practice, which is just down the road.

Fujita, 33, missed most of the preseason with a knee injury but had returned to practice before the suspension and was preparing to start the opener. He had remained optimistic the suspension would be overturned.

Middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said it would provide an emotional lift for the team.

The Browns would have to make a move to clear a space on the roster. Fujita had been on the suspended list and didn’t count against the 53-man limit.

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Indians notes: Hernandez set to make debut

CLEVELAND — It’s official. Roberto Hernandez will make his season debut Wednesday, starting against the Angels in Anaheim, Calif. Manager Manny Acta confirmed as much Saturday.

Hernandez served the final game of his three-week suspension from Major League Baseball on Friday, the same day he made his fourth and final minor league rehab appearance for Triple-A Columbus.

The right-hander, who missed the first four months of the season while dealing with the aftermath from false identity charges, is expected to take the rotation spot of left-hander Chris Seddon.

Seddon, who was effective in his second start of the season Friday night, is out of minor league options and will have to clear waivers if he is designated for assignment. The Indians could also move him to the bullpen and option right-hander Frank Herrmann back to Columbus.

 

Still ailing

Second baseman Jason Kipnis (stiff neck) missed his third straight game, and according to Acta, will not be in the lineup today for the series finale with Boston.

It was expected to be a minor ailment for Kipnis, who will be examined by team doctors today.

 

Pronk’s prognosis

Acta said he didn’t believe Travis Hafner’s lower-back issues would end the designated hitter’s season.

Hafner was placed on the disabled list Wednesday (retroactive to Monday) and is eligible for activation Aug. 21. An MRI performed Friday revealed no structural damage, with Hafner receiving what could be the first of three epidural injections after.

Roundin’ third

MLB Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry was inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame prior to the game. Perry won the first of his two Cy Young Awards with Cleveland in 1972. Cleveland also inducted Jimmy Warfield and Jack Graney into the Hall for non-uniformed personnel. Warfield was a trainer from 1965-2002, while Graney played for the Indians from 1908-22 before returning as a radio announcer from 1933-53. … Today, 1:05, STO/WTAM 1100-AM. Kluber (0-0, 6.10) vs. Lester (5-10, 5.36).

 

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

 

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Boston’s feats of Clay (Buchholz) shut down Indians

CLEVELAND — Asdrubal Cabrera had no trouble figuring out Boston’s starting pitcher Clay Buchholz. He was the only one wearing an Indians uniform who could say that.

With Cabrera managing the only two hits of the night Friday, Cleveland dropped a 3-2 decision to the Red Sox as Buchholz tossed a complete game, walking none and striking out six.

It was the second complete game of the season (fifth career) for Buchholz, who became just the seventh pitcher in history to toss a complete game at Jacobs/Progressive Field, while holding the Indians to two hits or fewer.

“That’s the best I’ve seen a guy against us, and we’ve seen some pretty good pitchers,” said Cleveland manager Manny Acta, whose team entered the night riding a two-game winning streak, but have dropped 12 of its last 14 games. “This guy, we couldn’t do anything. He was way too good. The night belonged to Buchholz.”

Buchholz (10-3, 4.24 ERA) surrendered a solo home run to Cabrera in the opening inning, with the Indians scoring their final run in the sixth on Ezequiel Carrera’s sacrifice fly.
From that point on, Buchholz retired the final 11 hitters he faced.

“He almost had you looking for a pitch you didn’t want to hit,” said Cleveland third baseman Jack Hannahan, who went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. “He was locating his fastball and he had a good cutter. He was keeping us off balance.”

Cabrera also added a double to lead off the fourth, but was only able to advance to third after Buchholz retired the next three hitters.

“Those were the only two pitches he missed,” Cabrera said of his homer and double.

The Indians, who ended their 11-game losing streak thanks to a positive performance from starter Justin Masterson on Wednesday, got another one from left-hander Chris Seddon.

Seddon shook off a rough outing in his first start of the season Sunday to deliver a solid six-inning effort this time around, allowing two earned runs on five hits. He struck out three and walked two.

“I was down in the zone this time,” Seddon said. “I was able to put pitches where I wanted to more.”

“Seddon did a good job,” Acta said. “He kept us in the game.”

Boston tied the game at 4 in the fourth on a RBI single from Dustin Pedroia before Cody Ross drove in the winning runs on a two-run homer to dead center with two outs in the sixth inning.

That’s all Buchholz needed.

“It was a slider,” Seddon said of the 2-1 pitch to Ross. “I should have bounced it in the dirt. I didn’t bounce it in the dirt and he hit it.”

With Roberto Hernandez set to join Cleveland’s rotation, Seddon is expected to lose his spot in the rotation and on the 25-man roster.

Indians reliever Cody Allen didn’t allow a run over 1⅓ innings, extending his scoreless innings streak to 10⅓. It is the longest scoreless streak to begin a career with the Indians since Alex Herrera strung together 11 from Sept. 13, 2002, to July 13, 2003. Allen’s streak is the longest in the same season since Tom Waddell in 1984.

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

TONIGHT

• WHO: Cleveland vs. Boston
• TIME: 6:05
• WHERE: Progressive Field
• PITCHERS: McAllister (4-4, 3.60 ERA) vs. Morales (3-2, 3.14)
• TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM

 

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Indians notes: Hernandez returning next week?

CLEVELAND — Roberto Hernandez could be making his season debut next week.

Hernandez, who missed the first four months of the year dealing with repercussions from false identity charges in the Dominican Republic, made his fourth minor league rehab appearance Friday, pitching seven strong innings (100 pitches) for Triple-A Columbus against Indianapolis.

“The plan is if he does have an outing (Friday) where he doesn’t have any type of red flags or anything like that, he could be joining our rotation next week,” Acta said of Hernandez, who allowed a run on four hits, striking out four and walking one. “But we have to wait and see, too. A lot can happen in five days, but we’re anticipating calling him (up) next week.”

Hernandez served the final day of his three-week suspension from MLB on Friday. He is expected to take the rotation spot of left-hander Chris Seddon, who started against Boston on Friday night.

(bullet) There was also positive news on the Rafael Perez (strained left lat) front. The left-hander will resume his minor league rehab assignment, pitching for Columbus today.

Perez has not pitched since early April and has already endured a setback during his rehab.

 

Man down

Jason Kipnis missed his second straight game with a stiff neck, but Acta is confident the second baseman will return to the lineup tonight.

Kipnis, a candidate for the All-Star Game, has struggled in the second half, batting just .193 (17-for-88) over his last 25 games to drop his season average to .259.

Pronk’s prognosis

An MRI performed on disabled designated hitter Travis Hafner’s ailing back revealed disc inflammation but no structural damage. According to head trainer Lonnie Soloff, Hafner has begun taking anti-inflammatory medicine and received an epidural injection to his lower back Friday.

“In terms of a timetable, it will depend on his responses to the medication, the injection and the treatment,” Soloff said.

The Indians are hopeful Hafner will avoid surgery. He is eligible to leave the injured list Aug. 21.

 

30 and counting

With his 30th save Thursday, Indians closer Chris Perez became just the fifth pitcher in Cleveland history to record multiple 30-plus-save seasons.

The right-hander, who accomplished the feat in consecutive years, joined Doug Jones (1988-90), Jose Mesa (1995-96), Mike Jackson (1998-99) and Bob Wickman (2011, ’05).

 

Gaylord the great

Already a member of baseball’s Hall of Fame (1991), legendary pitcher Gaylord Perry will be inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame prior to tonight’s game.

Perry, who won 314 games and two Cy Young Awards — 1972 with the Indians and 1978 with the Padres — during a 22-year career, pitched three full years in Cleveland from 1972-74 before being traded to Texas during the 1975 season.

The 73-year-old Perry was in attendance Friday and will be joined by Indians Hall of Famers Sandy Alomar, Mike Hargrove, Andre Thornton, Kenny Lofton and Sam McDowell for the induction ceremonies.

The Indians will pass out Perry bobbleheads Sunday.

Roundin’ third

Right-hander Derek Lowe cleared waivers and received his outright release from the Indians. … The Indians entered Friday owning the worst record (8-19) in the American League since the All-Star break — third-worst in the majors ahead of Houston and Colorado. … Tonight, 6:05, STO/WTAM 1100-AM. McAllister (4-4, 3.60) vs. Morales (3-2, 3.14).

 

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

 

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Browns LB Chris Gocong out for season with Achilles injury

BEREA – Browns linebacker Chris Gocong will miss the season after injuring his right Achilles tendon this morning at practice. Gocong will have surgery, possibly as early as Monday, when the full extent of the tear will be discovered.

Coach Pat Shurmur confirmed this afternoon the team’s fears had been realized.

Gocong, who’s started all 32 games in his two years with the Browns, was covering tight end Jordan Cameron in the end zone and felt something in his lower right leg as he went to jump. Gocong immediately grabbed the leg and there was no contact on the play.

Veteran linebacker Scott Fujita immediately realized the severity of the injury. He embraced Gocong on the cart before he was driven into the fieldhouse, then told the young linebackers they needed to be ready for increased responsibility.

“Chris has come so far as a player,” Fujita said. “He came to training camp in great shape and was making so many plays in camp.”

Fujita has been suspended by the NFL for the first three games for his alleged role in the Saints’ bounty scandal, but is trying to get it overturned in court. His lawyers filed a brief Friday and there’s a hearing Aug. 10.

If the Browns are without Gocong and Fujita for three games, their linebacking depth would be severely tested. Fourth-year pro Kaluka Maiava and rookie fourth-round pick James-Michael Johnson would be the likely replacements in the starting lineup.

Sixth-rounder Emmanuel Acho, rookie free agent L.J. Fort and second-year pro Craig Robertson are also in the mix.

“Guys have to step up,” middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said. “Our draft picks have been doing well, not it’s time to step up and do more.”

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New owner Jimmy Haslam watches practice on first day on the job

BEREA – New Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III got an up-close look at his new team this morning and was greeted with one of the more spirited practices on a hot day in the dog days of training camp.

He walked onto the practice field at about 9 a.m. with president Mike Holmgren, general manager Tom Heckert, wife Dee and father James.

Haslam wore a gray Browns T-shirt and brown shorts and acknowledged cheers from the crowd with quick waves. He watched the entirety of the practice, most of it with Holmgren, who continually pointed out things.

Haslam also talked briefly with coach Pat Shurmur, quarterbacks Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy and running back Trent Richardson.

Many Haslam family members were at Browns headquarters for the big day. Haslam’s introductory news conference is scheduled for 1 p.m.

Haslam finalized a $1 billion deal Thursday to buy the team from Randy Lerner. Haslam will get 70 percent initially and the remaining 30 percent in four years.

The sale must be approved by the NFL and its owners, but it’s expected to sail through quickly.

“You’re gonna find them to be very passionate people, very excited to be owners of the Cleveland Browns,” Shurmur said. “It’s a great mix for the team, the fan base and our city.

“I saw the passion in his face and felt the passion in his handshake.”

Haslam didn’t address the players as a team before practice and it was unknown if he would do so today. But he made a good first impression on McCoy.

“He seemed really nice,” McCoy said. “His wife was out here, his dad was here. Seemed like a great family. I think it’s a great thing.”

Haslam reportedly will bring former Eagles president Joe Banner with him, and CBSsports.com’s Clark Judge reported he will assume the president role. It’s unclear if he and Holmgren will fit in the organizational structure, but the senior executives will remain in place until the sale clears the league and becomes final.

Other notes and observations from practice:

Weeden had perhaps his sharpest day of camp, throwing numerous touchdown passes in red zone drills. Mohamed Massaquoi caught two touchdowns and Greg Little made a diving reception and a one-hander.

Shurmur credited Weeden’s improvement to becoming more comfortable with the people he’s throwing to.

** Running back Trent Richardson was a full participant in practice and absorbed a couple of big hits after sitting out the end of Thursday’s practice with a migraine.

** Left defensive end Jabaal Sheard continues to give rookie right tackle Mitchell Schwartz a crash course. They went one-on-one several times, with Sheard testing him with his explosiveness.

** Defensive tackle Scott Paxson wasn’t at practice, but Shurmur said he’ll be back Saturday. Rookie sixth-round pick Billy Winn took his place with the starters and impressed Shurmur again with his quickness.

** Defensive end Frostee Rucker, receiver Carlton Mitchell, defensive tackle Brian Schaefering, safety Usama Young and kicker Jeff Wolfert sat out with injuries.

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Indians: Tribe does little at deadline

CLEVELAND — Fans wondering whether the Indians would be buyers or sellers at the trading deadline got their answer Tuesday. Neither.

Though they struck a late deal to acquire minor league first baseman/outfielder Lars Anderson from the Red Sox, the Indians stood relatively pat during a busy deadline day around major league baseball.

Cleveland general manager Chris Antonetti said the Indians had numerous discussions with teams during the final day of the deadline (4 p.m.) and over the weeks leading up, but were unable to orchestrate a substantial trade to improve the big league roster.

“We were involved in a lot of discussions on various levels,” said Antonetti, whose club made a minor move in addition to acquiring Anderson, trading for utility infielder/outfielder Brent Lillibridge last week. “We were exhaustive in our approach to improve our club this year and beyond. Ultimately, in the end, we just weren’t able to align on the right value.”

There was reported interest from a number of teams for Cleveland outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, closer Chris Perez and starting pitcher Justin Masterson. Choo appeared the most likely to be dealt, with the Indians only controlling him for one more year before he can become a free agent, when he is expected to test the market under agent Scott Boras.

The Pirates were early Choo suitors, with Cincinnati showing interest late for the Indians’ right fielder, who entered Tuesday batting .291 with 12 home runs and 39 RBIs in 96 games.

Cleveland was expected to focus its trade deadline search on starting pitching and a right-handed bat, but wasn’t mentioned much as potential destinations for available big-name players that fit the bill. The Indians lost out on Kevin Youkilis, who went to Central Division rival Chicago, and showed interest in San Diego’s Chase Headley, but the switch-hitting third baseman wound up staying with the Padres.

In the end, the third-place Indians, who are hanging onto hopes of contention – trailing the first-place White Sox by five games through Monday — chose to do close to nothing.

“We had discussions that involved a wide range of players,” Antonetti said. “We pursued all of those alternatives. When you’re in a competitive position, you want to look for ways to improve the major league team. But it has to be the right decision and the right value, and we just weren’t able to find that.”

Should they remain in the division and wild-card race, the Indians will still have the August waiver wire period to add external assistance. But Antonetti continues to believe that Cleveland’s success this year and the next will come from within the organization.

“We’ll continue to look for opportunities in August to see if we can improve our team either this year or next year. But it gets more complicated then,” he said. “Our biggest opportunity in the second half is for the guys on the current roster to continue to perform up to their abilities. One or two moves externally, wasn’t going to have as much impact as the players in that clubhouse now.”

Anderson, who was acquired for Double-A Akron right-hander Steven Wright – a converted knuckleballer — might be in that clubhouse soon. At the age of 24, Anderson, a left-handed hitter, owns a career .276 batting average over six minor league seasons, spending nearly all of this year at Triple-A Pawtucket (.259, 9 HR, 52 RBIs in 93 games). The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Anderson has appeared in 30 games for the Red Sox since 2010.

“He’s been a highly respected prospect throughout his career,” Antonetti said of Anderson, who is expected to report to Triple-A Columbus over the coming days. “We feel he has the ingredients to be a potential productive major league player for us.”

Second time around

Roberto Hernandez does not look like he is ready to join the Indians’ rotation anytime soon.

The right-hander formerly known as Fausto Carmona was roughed up Tuesday in his second rehab start since returning to the United States, allowing five runs on nine hits, while striking out two and walking two over six innings of Columbus’ 10-8 loss to Rochester.

Antonetti predicted Hernandez would need three to four rehab outings before joining the Indians. The right-hander is serving a three-week suspension that ends Aug. 11

 

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

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Indians: Don’t look for big move(s) at deadline

Will they or won’t they? Do they or don’t they?
Will the Indians make a substantial move or two by Tuesday’s trading deadline?
Does the front office go for broke and attempt to win now, rather than look to the future?
Those are the questions on m… Read More…

Browns president Mike Holmgren: Lerner selling controlling interest, team won’t move

BEREA – Browns president Mike Holmgren confirmed owner Randy Lerner plans to sell “controlling interest” in the team to Jimmy Haslam.
Holmgren spoke this afternoon as the first full-squad practice of training camp started.
“What I can say is th… Read More…