Indians' clubhouse buzzing about LeBron news
Swisher, Francona excited NBA star is returning to Cleveland
CLEVELAND -- The Indians made the postseason last season. The Browns recently drafted quarterback Johnny Manziel and all the hype that came along with him. On Friday, NBA superstar LeBron James announced that he is officially heading back to the Cavs.
The Cleveland sports scene and the city itself have been experiencing a comeback.
"This city's really kind of reinventing itself," Indians first baseman Nick Swisher said. "Obviously we've had some glory years in the past, but we're in the now and things look on the up and up for everybody. From the Browns to the Cavs to the Tribe, it seems like everyone's really stepped their games up.
"And, obviously, King James is back in the building. There's a lot of excitement. I can't wait to meet him. I'm just so stoked he's coming back. A guy like that, with the talent he has, singlehandedly that guy can win you a championship, for sure.
"Just in general, Cleveland sports are really pushing themselves in the right direction, and we're putting ourselves back on the map."
In the middle of the second inning, the Indians displayed James' image on the scoreboard behind the left-field bleachers. As the words "Welcome Home" appeared on the screen, the fans inside the ballpark erupted in loud cheers.
At the Cavs' Quicken Loans Arena, which sits directly across a plaza from Progressive Field, fans were gathering to celebrate James' return on Friday afternoon. Inside the Tribe's home stadium, Indians manager Terry Francona also expressed excitement over what James' decision could mean for the city and Northeast Ohio.
"I haven't been here as long as you guys," Francona said, "but I've been here long enough to care about Cleveland. First and foremost is what we're doing here with the Indians. That's my job. As far as being a person, I'm thrilled, because it's going to bring a lot of happiness and a lot of joy to basketball fans.
"I think it's good for the city, bringing in revenue and extra excitement to the downtown area. I think it's awesome. For the basketball fan in me, I'm really excited."
Tribe calls up Adams from Triple-A; House optioned
CLEVELAND -- With only three games left until the All-Star break, eliminating the need for a full rotation, the Indians saw an opportunity to give pitcher Austin Adams his first taste of the big leagues.
Prior to Friday's game against the White Sox, Cleveland promoted the reliever from Triple-A Columbus and optioned left-handed starter T.J. House to the same affiliate. Adams learned he was heading to The Show on Thursday night and immediately called his girlfriend to share the good news.
"She didn't believe me," Adams said with a smile. "She thought I was lying."
Once a promising starting pitching prospect for the Indians, the 27-year-old Adams heads to the Majors as the newest member of Cleveland's growing relief corps. The right-hander has been dominant this season at Triple-A, spinning a 2.29 ERA with 35 strikeouts against eight walks in 39 1/3 innings. Prior to the promotion, Adams had not yielded a run since May 26 (a span of 17 1/3 innings).
Adams gives Indians manager Terry Francona 10 arms in his bullpen, though that number is expected to be trimmed back to nine on Saturday, when Cleveland plans on promoting Zach McAllister to start against Chicago.
The 24-year-old House, who started on Thursday against the Yankees, has posted a 4.40 ERA in nine appearances for Cleveland this season. Francona noted that House will pitch on Wednesday for Class A (short-season) Mahoning Valley prior to rejoining the Indians for a start against the Twins on July 21 in Minnesota.
Thanks to the four-day All-Star break, House technically will not miss a turn in the MLB rotation.
"He's pitching right when he was supposed to pitch," Francona said. "We can get a look at Austin. He's had a terrific first half of the year. We supplement our bullpen and get a look at him, let him get his feet wet. I think it works and it's kind of win-win. This is not an indictment on T.J. We were going to do it anyway."
Selected in the fifth round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft by the Indians, Adams earned his first invite to Major League Spring Training in 2012. That season, though, the righty sustained a right shoulder injury that required surgery and kept him sidelined for the entire year. Adams returned as a reliever in 2013 and has excelled in the new role.
Over the past two seasons as a reliever, Adams has posted a 2.48 ERA with 111 strikeouts in 94 1/3 innings.
"Last year was a big stepping stone," Adams said, "just being healthy all year and placing myself [back] on the map. Now, I feel like I've done a good job of staying healthy and showing I can still compete."
Ohio teacher Spetrino calls support 'flattering'
CLEVELAND -- The players won't be the only ones honored for their accomplishments at the 2014 All-Star Game.
On Tuesday, Major League Baseball announced the winners of the "Target Presents People All-Star Teachers" campaign, which recognizes 30 outstanding teachers -- one associated with each team -- who have sought to better their communities and promote growth in their students.
Cleveland fans voted for Jacqui Spetrino of Dale R. Rice Elementary School in Mentor, Ohio, to represent the Indians in Minneapolis on Tuesday, when she and the other 29 winners will be formally commended in a special pregame ceremony at Target Field.
For Spetrino, a lifelong fan of Cleveland sports, the entire ride has been overwhelmingly positive.
"This is by far the most flattering experience of my life," Spetrino said. "The outpouring of support and the positive remarks from the city I live in, Willoughby, and Mentor, where I work, has been amazing. Mentor knows me as a teacher, and Willoughby knows me as a single mom that coached my son in baseball all the way through. It's just been really nice and really rewarding."
Spetrino has also been nominated for Teacher of the Year in Mentor. She devotes much of her time to the area's senior citizens, making scheduled visits with her students, and she has even arranged for the elderly to come view her pupils' creative talents at school art shows.
"We have a nursing home across the street from one of my schools. It seems like the school doesn't do a whole lot with them, so I try to make a big deal out of going over there," Spetrino said. "I take the students over there three or four times a year. We build a relationship with them."
Quote to note
"The 2-1-6, we're banging right now. We're hot right now. It's hot in the 2-1-6, for sure. It's just amazing, man. There's a lot of excitement right now, and that's what you want to do. You want to build the excitement, you want to get people talking about you, and I think we have that right now."
--Swisher, on Cleveland's sports scene
• During batting practice on Friday, some of Cleveland's players were wearing bright orange shirts that said "JK Construction" on the front. On the back was the slogan: "I break it. You fix it." The shirts were poking fun at second baseman Jason Kipnis, who is no fan of an offensive slump.
Entering Friday, though, Kipnis had hit .323 with six extra-base hits and 12 runs scored over his past 15 games.
"The confidence is going to come with the success," Kipnis said. "The more you hit, the better you feel, the more confident you feel at the plate. When you start hitting the ball the other way, you stop trying to press, you stop trying to force the issue and just let it happen and go out and be the player you can be."
• Heading into Friday's game, Indians outfielder Chris Dickerson had churned out seven hits in his first 15 at-bats (.467 average) since being acquired from the Pirates in a trade on Monday. Dickerson matched a career high with three hits in Thursday's win over the Yankees and has scored four runs through four games with Cleveland.
• On Friday, the Indians signed catcher Gian Paul Gonzalez -- out of Discipulos De Cristo High School in Puerto Rico -- after taking him in the 20th round (608th overall) in the First-Year Player Draft last month. Cleveland has signed 30 of its 42 Draft selections.
• On Friday, Indians catcher George Kottaras was claimed off waivers by the Cardinals. Kottaras, who was designated for assignment on Monday, hit .286 with three home runs and four RBIs in 10 games as Cleveland's backup catcher.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.