Herrmann’s Baseball Journey Could Take Injury-Riddled Turn in 2013
During Spring Training the DTTWLN staff will profile and examine the coaches and players that make up and are vying to be part of the 2013 Cleveland Indians—A Team With A New Direction. Today, we examine one of the players on the 40-man roster that is in a roster battle to earn a spot on the 25-man roster.
By Mike Brandyberry
Unfortunately, the Tribe’s right-handed reliever could be learning more about the operation than he would like to. Herrmann suffered a right elbow ligament sprain during his last outing on Feb. 25 against Oakland. The club and Herrmann are still in the process of gathering information for the most appropriate course of action. Herrmann is currently a non-participant in workouts and there is no timetable for his return.
“It’s really hard to say at this point,” Indians General Manager Chris Antonetti said Friday. “We have to first understand the severity of the injury and then understand what the options are and progress from there. With Frank, we are still trying to get additional information.”
Herrmann is not necessarily headed to Tommy John surgery, but his injury is related to ligament damage in the elbow, which often leads to the surgery resulting in 12-18 months of rehabilitation before returning to game action. He has visited Dr. Yocum in Anaheim, California, however, to examine his injury and explore his options. Yocum was the same doctor Josh Tomlin visited last season before deciding to have the surgery.
Herrmann has battled a long and winding road to the big leagues already, signing with the Indians as a non-drafted free agent in 2006 after going unselected in the draft. The right-hander originally signed as a starter from Harvard University. When he signed, he had not graduated, however, the Indians allowed him to return for fall courses and earn his degree in economics that fall.
Since beating the Ivy League, Herrmann has been well-traveled through the bushes of the minor leagues with stops in Lake County, Kinston, Akron, Buffalo and Columbus. He was a Carolina League All-Star in 2007 and went 11-6 on the mound at Double-A Akron in 2008 to help the Aeros win the Eastern League Championship. However, it was after 2008 that Herrmann transitioned to the bullpen. After a successful season in 2009 at Triple-A Columbus, Herrmann split time between the Clippers and the Indians in both 2010 and 2011.
In 40 games in both 2010 and 2011, Herrmann pitched in long and middle relief with the Indians. He, along with his 2011 bullpen mates helped create the original Bullpen Mafia. Herrmann’s best performance with the Tribe was probably July 2, 2011 when he pitched three scoreless innings against the Cincinnati Reds in relief of then-Fausto Carmona. Herrmann relieved Carmona after he pulled a hamstring running to first base.
However, Herrmann did not make the Indians out of Spring Training in 2012 and spent much of the season in Triple-A until the pitching staff fell apart in August. Needing an extra arm, Herrmann was recalled Aug. 7 and pitched in 15 games with a 2.33 ERA over 19.1 innings in the final two months.
But with the emergence of Cody Allen and the offseason acquisitions of Bryan Shaw and Matt Albers, the middle relief competition is getting deeper for Herrmann. If he were healthy, Herrmann would have his work cut out for him to make the Indians. Now, with an unknown injury, Herrmann seems destined to start the season on the disabled list. The severity of the injury, and time on the disabled list, continues to remain a question.
While Herrmann’s health and place in the Tribe bullpen may be a long term question, the former Harvard hurler will have to find those answers moving forward in his baseball journey.
Photo: Chuck Crow/Cleveland Plain Dealer