Pitchers & catchers report, stretching commences
The Indians have been at this Goodyear complex for four Spring Trainings now. This spring marked the first time that the club had to have a handful of players double up to share lockers. That is due to the high volume of players brought into camp this spring.
As of this writing, there are 61 players in the fold. That could rise to 62 if the Indians sign pitcher Jon Garland, though it’s beginning to look doubtful given how long that process is taking. Garland reached an agreement on a Minor League deal last week, but did not take his physical on Monday as expected. The locker that I’m pretty sure was set up for him was also cleaned out this morning.
An update on that front isn’t expected until later this week.
I’m getting off topic. Where was I? Ah, yes, the five dozen players in camp.
Some of the younger players on the cusp of the big leagues might have been a little miffed at times this offseason as news rolled in of Minor League signing after Minor League signing. Reliever Vinnie Pestano said he remembers that type of feeling from his days as a Minor Leaguer trying to earn his shot with the big league club. A funny thing happened, though. Pestano started to understand the approach.
“When you’re coming up through the system,” Pestano said, “and you see them signing guys and stuff like that, you think, ‘Well, when am I going to get my shot? When’s my turn? I’m trying to get to the big leagues and they just signed a guy for the exact same spot that I do.’ So you’re like, ‘What the heck do I have to do now?’ I think last year was the first year I understood how important that depth is, how important that experience is to have. All the guys we brought in, they’ve been around a little bit. It’s not their first rodeo.
“I think all those guys are going to push all the guys around them. To have that many guys in camp, and to have the experience that we have in this locker room, as opposed to last year, it’s a huge turnaround. You don’t really know how important that experience and that depth is until you need it. And with what happened last year, we had all those guys that came up, and now they’re experienced, too.
“I think we’re in a great spot depth-wise. We have a lot of great position battles in camp and I think everybody’s going to use that to push themselves to get better.”
Some notes from Monday…
- Indians manager Manny Acta said he knows who will be the Opening Day starter (mandatory “barring injury” disclaimer), but he’s not telling. Yet. It’s going to be either Justin Masterson or Ubaldo Jimenez, but Acta and the rest of the Tribe brass want to get through the early stages of the throwing program before announcing the decision. So expect that news within the next two weeks.
- Acta was in meetings for most of the morning and afternoon, but he said all the pitchers and catchers reported on Monday as requird. He said he would have heard about it if there were any players dealing with any type of delays getting to camp. There is a significant number of position players already on hand as well. They aren’t required to report until Thursday.
- Acta said there is no favorite for the fifth spot out of the gates. The field is Kevin Slowey, Jeanmar Gomez, David Huff and Zach McAllister. Pure speculation and reading between the lines on my part here, but Acta’s comments made it seem like Slowey and Gomez were a little ahead of Huff. McAllister has the least experience of the four.
- As for the third base competition between Jack Hannahan and Lonnie Chisenhall, Acta said that’s a decision that will likely take until the final days of camp. The team knows what it has in Hannahan, so the evaluation is more related to Chisenhall. The biggest factor will be improvement with his plate discipline. Acta stressed that the team needs to evaluate each at-bat — not just the on-field results.
- Acta also noted that he is viewing Casey Kotchman as the everyday first baseman. This was slightly new, because at the time of Kotchman’s signing it sounded as if he might sit against lefties. Now, he might sit sometimes against lefties, but it just won’t be a platoon-type scenario with switch-hitting catcher Carlos Santana.
- What does it all mean? It means Santana could see more time as a DH this year on the days he’s not behind the plate. Cleveland wants to get Lou Marson in there against left-handed pitching, given that he hit .297 against LHP in 2011. Santana hit .318 against lefties last year. Kotchman, a lefty hitter, fared well against both righties (.313) and lefties (.289).
- Could this mean that DH Travis Hafner (another lefty hitter) might see more days off against left-handed pitchers? It’d appear so, if the plan is to get Santana in the DH slot more often. Consider that Hafner hit .233 vs. LHP and .302 against RHP last year. Over the past three years combined, Hafner has a .240/.298/.382 slash line against LHP compared to a .290/.387/.483 slash line against righties. Hmmm.
- Acta confirmed that there are indeed two spots open in the bullpen as we’ve all been writing. He indicated that right-hander Frank Herrmann might have “a bit of a leg up” for one of the available relief jobs. Barring a disastrous spring, I still think that Herrmann and non-roster invitee Dan Wheeler seem like the favorites for the last two spots.
Photo of the Day
Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera sporting a nice mullet under that Indians cap. This photo spawned plenty of other reactions on Twitter, too. You can CLICK HERE to see some other photos I posted today.
Indians Player Twitter Power Rankings
I was a little underwhelmed by the tweets this week from the Indians players. That said, less tweeting might mean more working as Spring Training begins. Nothing wrong with that. Even so, felt it was time to shake things up. Vinnie Pestano continues to hold down the top spot, though. It’s his birthday today. I couldn’t unseat him. Lou Marson soars from being unranked to being No. 2 on my list. His tweets might be sparse, but they’re short, to the point and often hilarious. Well done, LouMar.
Week 5: Major League Rankings
1. @VinnieP52 (Vinnie Pestano) – Last week: 1 (5)
2. @LouMar6 (Lou Marson) – Last week: 5
3. @thethree8 (Joe Smith) – Last week: 3
4. @TheJK_Kid (Jason Kipnis) – Last week: 2
5. @ChrisPerez54 (Chris Perez) – Last week: 4
Sixth Man: @tcrowe4 (Trevor Crowe) – Last week: NR
Top Twitter Prospects