Earning their wings

OutfieldThe Indians are expecting to field a dynamic outfield defense this season, given the fact that Michael Brantley, Michael Bourn and Drew Stubbs are all center fielders by trade.

“I think it’ll be a good outfield, man,” Bourn said. “We’ve all got speed out there. We’ve all got pretty good arms and we’re all going to make plays. You put that combination together, I think we’ll be just fine. I think we’ll be exciting to watch.”

This does not mean that their defensive partnership will come without growing pains.

In Friday’s spring opener against the Reds, it was evident early on that the group will need some time to learn how to work together.

This is why the preseason is so important.

“We had a little mix-up in the outfield early,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Those are things that, not that you want to have happen, but if it’s going to happen, that’s why you have Spring Training. You can take that and work on it, and it ends up helping you.”

In the first inning, Cincinnati’s Ryan Hanigan sent a pitch into the right-center gap. It was a catchable fly ball, but Bourn and Stubbs had some communication issues are they sprinted toward one another. The baseball dropped in and Hanigan was rewarded with a two-run double.

“That was really my fault,” Bourn said. “I didn’t go at it, because I thought he already had it. That happens in Spring Training. You’d rather for it to happen now than when it really counts. I take the blame for that one.”

Stubbs also felt at fault, according to Francona.

“Drew said, ‘I took for granted that he was going to catch it,'” Francona said. “Those are things that you iron out now.”

All three outfielders are such good runners that they will need to learn how to account for the other’s range as they convene on fly balls. Bourn said learning and adjusting to the athleticism offered by Brantley and Stubbs will be important this spring.

“That’s the biggest key for me the first couple weeks,” Bourn said. “I just want to figure out who has what ranges with each other. I’ll go from there. Because I’m in the middle, I want to know what the corners look like. I know we have good corner outfielders.

“It’s pretty much three center fielders out there playing. We’ll just watch each other, feed off each other and we’ll learn as we go.”

Final score: Indians 11, Reds 10
Cactus League record: 1-0

Catching you up on some stories and happenings of late…

Keep checking Indians.com for more news and features throughout the spring, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter (@MLBastian) and Instagram (bastianmlb). I have posted photos from camp on both social-media sites.

–JB

2 Comments

All in all a great first game! So far a fun second game :) Love your pictures on instagram!

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