Sounds like Terry Francona is expecting Francisco Lindor be back closer to the seven weeks than nine weeks. Lindor took ground balls while we were in Goodyear and reportedly hit for the first time over the weekend. All good news!
However, If Lindor does not make it back in time for opening day, the Indians shortstop candidates are not good – Eric Stamets, Max Moroff, Ryan Flaherty and Yu Cheng-Chang.
Trevor Bauer is very different in his approach to baseball and in life, but in a good way that works for Bauer. Listen and find out for yourself to my exclusive one on one with him at spring training here –https://www.whbc.com/shows/kenny-roda-show/?futurishared=1080&station=WHBCAM#.XHv3yTNPeOk.twitter …
The Indians are being very cautious with starting pitchers Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco. Neither pitched in a game while we were there and so all we got to see was side work or bullpens. I’m OK with this if it’s going to help keep both pitchers fresh and healthy for the season and more importantly the postseason. The Indians are counting on the trio of Kluber, Carrasco and Bauer to be the heart and soul of this team and carry them in the regular season and beyond. This team will only go as far as their starting rotation takes them! So the pressure has been ratcheted up for Kluber, Carrasco, Bauer, Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber.
Based on what we saw and who is currently on the roster, here is my guess for who the starting outfield is for the Indians – LF – I have no idea, CF – Leonys Martin and RF – Tyler Naquin. About 5 guys have shot to be in left field. Ideally I believe the Indians would like to play Jake Bauers in left field, with Carlos Santana at first base and Hanley Ramirez as their DH.
Speaking of Hanley, since we did not get to see him play or even take batting practice, I can’t begin to tell you how Hanley Ramirez looks and if he still has the bat speed to be a middle of the order guy. But the Indians are hoping, that at age 35, he has at least one year left where he can produce runs for them as a DH. This is something to keep an eye on the rest of spring training.
Found out after we left Goodyear, Arizona that Jason Kipnis has a quad injury and that’s why he and the Indians are taking things slowly this spring and probably why he would not talk to me and other reporters while we were there. The Indians need Kipnis to have a big offensive year to help carry a weak line up.
Both Jason Kipnis and Hanley Ramirez are scheduled to make their spring training debuts Monday, March 4th
Roberto Perez is your starting catcher after the trade of Yan Gomes to Washington. The Indians are very confident in him with his defense and the ability to call a game, but like you and me, they’ve got to be wondering what they will get out of him offensively. Perez hit just .168 last season in 62 games. The 30 year old receiver has a career batting average of .205.
The Indians will need all of spring training to figure out who will be in their bullpen. We know the closer is Brad Hand and I expect Oliver Perez Dan Otero and Adam Cimber to be there as well. But after that, jobs will be won or lost in the next 3 to 4 weeks.
Carlos Santana looked good and is happy to be back with the Tribe. I expect him to have a typical Santana year with a batting average around .250, a lot of walks, 20 to 25 homeruns and 70 to 80 RBIs.
Jose Ramirez looked in very good shape and was strutin like George Jefferson all over the place. He looks ready to go and the Indians will need him to be an MVP candidate to help carry what looks to be an average offense.
After talking to Sandy Alomar again this Spring Training, it won’t be long before he’s managing in MLB. Check out his thoughts on that and the 2019 Indians in my exclusive sit down interview you can listen to here- https://www.whbc.com/shows/kenny-roda-show/?futurishared=1078&station=WHBCAM#.XHv4FEylH4I.twitter …
With all the off-season moves and positions up for grabs, expect to be seeing and hearing about a lot of players that you know nothing about.
Here are a few of those players to keep an eye on:
Jake Bauers – 1B/LF
Matt Joyce – OF
Eric Stamets – SS
Max Moroff – INF
Ryan Flaherty – INF
Yu Cheng-Chang – SS
Daniel Johnson – OF
Eric Haase – C
Kevin Plawecki – C
Jordan Luplow – OF
Greg Allen – OF
My Final Spring Training Thoughts:
Tribe skipper Terry Francona is searching for a lot of answers this Spring Training compared to the last few years after the roster purging/salary dumps made by the front office in the off season. However even with those unanswered questions at this time, I still expect the Indians to win their 4th consecutive A.L. Central Division title, but it won’t be as easy as last year and that may not be a bad thing. For the last month of the season in 2018 the Indians played in meaningless games and coasted into the playoffs where they were swept by the Astros. Maybe having a pennant race late into September will keep the team focused heading into October baseball and give them more of an edge than they had last year. That along with having five of the best players in the American League in Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco should allow the Wahoo Warriors to give Tribe fans at least one playoff series at Progressive Field this year. Plus, if all five stay healthy and some of the other question mark players rise to the occasion, it could be an October to remember in C’Town!
And don’t forget, you can listen to all of the Indians games this season on your home for Tribe baseball in Stark County, News-Talk 1480 WHBC!,