Tomlin's dad will be there for Game 3 start

October 24th, 2016

CLEVELAND -- got the nod to start Game 3 of the World Series in Wrigley Field. His father, Jerry, got the nod to travel to Wrigley to watch his son pitch.

Enter one of the great subplots of an Indians-Cubs World Series loaded with them.

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Last week, we told you the story about how Jerry has been paralyzed from the chest down since mid-August because of a rare condition called an arteriovenous malformation -- a tangle of blood vessels on the spinal cord -- that required emergency surgery. Josh left the Indians for a couple of days on family medical emergency leave to be with his dad in Tyler, Texas, as he recuperated from the surgery, but the two haven't seen each other since. Jerry watched both of Josh's postseason starts, one in the American League Division Series and one in the AL Championship Series, from his room at the Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation in Dallas.

But Jerry was released from the hospital last Wednesday, which just so happened to be Josh's 32nd birthday and the day the Indians clinched the AL pennant. And so the family has made arrangements for Jerry to travel to Chicago along with his wife, Elana, and Josh's aunt and uncle, Shawn and Scott Hilburn. Josh's wife and kids will also be in attendance.

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"It's neat," Josh said, "because he's always talked about Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, two historical ballparks, being the ones he wants to go see. As a Father's Day gift, we let my father-in-law and him decide what game they wanted to see, and he was supposed to come to a game in Chicago [at U.S. Cellular Field]. But because of the incident, he wasn't able to enjoy that gift. So it's nice to be able to share this with him."

Jerry, who uses a wheelchair as he holds out hope that he'll one day be able to walk again, had joked that he would climb on somebody's back to go see his son pitch in the World Series, if he had to.

Instead, much more comfortably, he'll be flying commercial.

The Indians are not ruling out the possibility that they might have to reshape their rotation in Games 2 and 3 of this Series. While is currently slotted to follow Game 1 starter in Game 2, the Indians are monitoring his progress from a deep finger cut suffered in an accident repairing a drone. But for now, Tomlin was told the Game 3 assignment is his. There is some thought there that if Bauer should have another mishap, as he did in Game 3 of the ALCS in Toronto, the Indians would be better equipped to empty their bullpen in Game 2, which precedes an off-day, than Game 3, which is followed by two more games on successive days.

Tribe to open WS with Kluber; Bauer, Tomlin to follow

Tomlin, who has a 2.53 ERA in 10 2/3 innings over two starts in this postseason, is facing a daunting assignment. Game 3 will be the first World Series game at Wrigley Field since 1945, so it goes without saying that the crowd won't be on his side.

"That's going to be something else," he said. "I've never actually pitched in Wrigley Field, but we played there last year, so I've gotten to experience a game there. But I take it this will be a little bit different atmosphere than it was that day."

At least he knows he'll have his dad there, leading his cheering section.