In the running

Kenny Lofton was in camp today with the Indians, in uniform, wearing his familiar No. 7 and helping out with the outfielders. The 44-year-old then did something that did not necessarily fall under his guest instructor job description.

Lofton lined up with the position players after the first full-squad workout and took part in some sprint drills. Next to Lofton was Minor League outfielder Thomas Neal, who has a few more pounds of muscle on his frame than Kenny. On a few laps, Lofton was running a step or two ahead of Neal.

Hours later, Neal took to his Twitter account (@TdaddyNeal) and wrote:

“Just woke up from a nice little 2 hour nap. Trying to keep up w/ @Kenny_Lofton7 during sprints will do that 2 you LoL!!”

Indians manager Manny Acta did not see Lofton challenging his much younger counterparts, buthe heard all about it.

“He told me he was putting some pressure on someof those guys,” Acta said with a grin.

About the only missing from the scene was Lofton sprinting by everyone else while wearing pajamas.

Lofton looks to be in such good shape, the sprints had us joking that maybe he’s actually in camp as a non-roster invite. I mean, news did just break that Grady Sizemore is doubtful for Opening Day, meaning there is a vacancy in the starting outfield.

Might Lofton secretly be trying to make a comeback?

“Don’t put anything past the guy,” Acta joked.

I’ve always liked the idea of having players like Lofton in camp during Spring Training. Never hurts to have former stars on hand to help out with instruction. Lofton’s focus is on baserunning and outfield techniques… and on trying to out-run a few of the kids along the way.

Some notes from Saturday…

  • Beyond Lofton, the Indians also plan on having former Tribe infielder Carlos Baerga in camp this spring as a guest instructor. There have also been rumblings that Albert Belle might make an appearance. We’ll see.
  • Saturday’s workout seemed shorter than full-squad practices of years past, but Acta said that was by design. He said the way things lined up, it made sense to have an abbreviated workout today for the first full camp. On Sunday, there will be a lot more on the schedule.
  • Sunday’s schedule will include some live batting practice sessions, with Indians pitchers throwing off mounds and hitters standing in. But, the hitters won’t be swinging. The hitters will not be permitted to swing in that setting for 1-2 days. Acta has instituted this “tracking” approach since taking over as manager.
  • We chatted with Sizemore this morning and he is understandably frustrated over his latest setback. Sizemore said he tried to push through his lower back injury for 4-5 days after initially tweaking it, but the discomfort only intensified. That’s why he’s shut down from doing baseball activities and from continuing his right knee rehab for now.
  • We also discussed the situation with Michael Brantley, who could move to center field or stay in left. He wouldn’t admit to being more comfortable in one spot over the other, choosing to only say he’s willing to do whatever the team wants. He’s saying the right things, but I believe center would be his preference. That’s just me speculating.
  • Brantley noted that he’s at full strength after his offseason of rehab for his right hand. He took part in all of Saturday’s workout and was happy to hear that Acta named him the team’s leadoff man. Brantley noted that he put on a few pounds this winter, but it is “good weight” — mostly due to lower half workouts over the winter.
  • Acta said the field is wide open for the lone outfield opening. The manager did not rule out the possibility of throwing Matt LaPorta into the mix for the starting job in left feld. Right now, it is really hard to say who might be the leading candidate for the third job, but it was interesting to hear LaPorta is in that mix.
  • Russ Canzler has experience in the corner outfield spots, but the Indians see him more as a first baseman. Canzler spent Saturday’s workout focusing on first base. He’ll get reps in the outfield and is certainly in the mix for a bench job with the club. In my opinion, he is probably not high on the outfield depth chart right now.
  • As previously noted, Jason Donald will see action in the outfield as well this spring, but that won’t be until deeper into the schedule. The plan early on is for him to evenly distribute his reps between second base, shortstop and third base. He bounced between short and second during Saturday’s workout.
  • Donald said the idea of playing the outfield was fun for him. He had limited action out there during instructional league and said it reminded him of his days as a safety on his high school football team. Donald said he’s willing to fill whatever role the Indians need in order to gain at-bats and help the team.

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Photo of the Day

Indians third basemen Lonnie Chisenhall and Jack Hannahan await a grounder off the bat of third base coach Steve Smith’s fungo bat.

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Caption Contest

What’s Shin-Soo Choo saying to Asdrubal Cabrera?

The Winner

@skydancing8 hi, Maggilo Ordonez, I’m Choo…. Oh wait, nice mullet asdrubal.

Runner-up

@literateartist “Yo, I heard about this game show called ‘Minute To Win It.” Now if you could pile those cups on those cones…”

Honorable Mention

@footwedge15 “dont look but one of the 100 new guys in camp is staring at me behind us

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Thanks for playing.

Make sure you’re reading Indians.com and following me on Twitter (@MLBastian). To see more of my Spring Training photos, CLICK HERE.

Stay tuned for more…

–JB

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