CLEVELAND -- The Indians had already accepted the fact that Hector Rondon would not be a part of their 2010 plans, as initially anticipated.But now they can probably count Rondon out for 2011, too.
Rondon, one of the top pitching prospects in the Tribe's farm system, had Tommy John surgery performed on his right elbow on Wednesday. Dr. James Andrews performed the procedure in Birmingham, Ala., after Rondon had a setback in his recovery from an elbow strain.
"It's not good, because he was one of the guys we were counting on for pitching depth down the road," manager Manny Acta said. "If he didn't lose this year of development, we were probably going to take a look at him in September. But he lost this year -- and he's probably going to lose another one."
Rondon, 22, injured the elbow early in the season and has been out since mid-May. He was attempting to rehab the injury at the Indians' facility in Goodyear, Ariz.
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Rondon was 1-3 with an 8.53 ERA in seven starts for Triple-A Columbus this season. The Venezuela native is 33-33 with a 4.20 ERA in 99 career Minor League appearances.
A member of the World Team roster at the 2008 Futures Game, Rondon was the organization's Minor League pitcher of the year in '09 -- which he split between Double-A Akron and Columbus. He had a mid-90s fastball with movement and control, but the Indians hoped he would finish off his secondary pitches this year.
"Tommy John surgery is not what it used to be," Acta noted. "Every year, guys come back who had it the year before -- and a lot of times they come back stronger. But you feel bad for the kid."
Choo gets ready for some football
CLEVELAND -- Shin-Soo Choo has never watched an NFL game in his life, but he might be the most prepared player at the Indians' fantasy football draft this Sunday.
That's because Choo will be showing up to the draft not only ready to take Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson with the No. 1 overall pick -- but also wearing an autographed Johnson jersey.
Choo tried to order Johnson's jersey, only to discover he couldn't find a place that guaranteed overnight shipping. So he had Tribe media relations director Bart Swain pull some connections with the Titans to buy Johnson's autographed jersey and have it sent to Cleveland.
When asked why he didn't just arrange a trade of memorabilia with Johnson rather than paying for the jersey, Choo said, "I know him, but he doesn't know me."
Opposing pitchers know Choo. Though the Indians offense has hit perhaps its lowest point of the season, in terms of production, Choo has continued to knock out base hits. Over his last 11 games, Choo has hit safely in nine games and gone 16-for-43 (.372) with a double, home run and five RBIs.
"He just keeps going out and being a bright spot in our lineup," manager Manny Acta said. "At times, he shows how good he is -- because at times, I don't think they're going to pitch to him. But he continues to fight and to hit good pitching."
And in his downtime, he's getting ready for his first fantasy draft. Travis Hafner helped out by providing Choo with a football beer helmet. Choo tried it on in the clubhouse before Thursday's game, getting a big laugh from his teammates.
"You can put beer in one side," Choo joked. "And water in the other. You have to stay hydrated."
Indians host their first 'Puppypalooza'
CLEVELAND -- They call these the dog days of summer -- and the Indians took that idea to a new extreme on Thursday night. The Tribe's first "Puppypalooza" event at Progressive Field invited fans to bring their pooches to the park.
About 500 fans took the Indians up on the offer -- with about 200 dogs on-hand. The owners got to walk their dogs around the warning track before taking their seats in a specially designated area in right field.
The Indians had all the owners sign liability waivers and offer proof that their dogs are up to date on their vaccinations. A portion of the proceeds was donated to the Animal Protective League.
Curtis Danburg, the Indians' director of communications and creative services, said more than half the teams in the Majors have had similar events.
"We did a lot of research to see if it made sense for us," Danburg said. "We found in our surveys that nearly 70 percent of our attendees own pets. I think that was one of the big factors to go down this road."
Tribe manager Manny Acta was amused by the event, but he said he wouldn't be out on the field to greet the dogs the way he greets kids after Sunday home games.
"It's a good thing I'm not going to have to shake their paws like I do on Sundays," he said with a smile.
Prospect-to-watch Jason Knapp made his second start for Class A Lake County after his return from right shoulder surgery and dominated Bowling Green. He allowed just one hit and struck out six in five scoreless innings. Knapp is 1-2 with a 0.84 ERA in seven starts between Class A and rookie ball -- with left-handers hitting just 1-for-29 off him. ... Oakland pitchers had a 1.36 ERA in the first eight games of the season series against the Indians. Tribe batters were hitting just .215 off Oakland pitching. ... For more on the Tribe, including a new Q&A with closer Chris Perez, visit CastroTurf.