The Cleveland Indians opened the 2013 season at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, home of the Blue Jays. Check out a photo gallery from the Tribe's second game of the season there.
On Thursday, March 21, the Cleveland Indians visited the beautiful Salt River Fields at Talking Stick for a Cactus League exhibition game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
On Wednesday, March 20, the Cleveland Indians visited the Los Angeles Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium in Tempe, Arizona for a Cactus League exhibition game.
Cleveland's Terry Francona and Pittsburgh's Clint Hurdle were honored as the top managers in baseball Tuesday night.
Francona led the Indians to the postseason for the first time since 2007, earning the No. 1 wild-card spot in the American League. They lost the wild-card game to Tampa Bay, 4-0.
The Indians, under Francona, showed a 24-game improvement, going from 68 victories in 2012 to 92 this year. The 24-victory improvement matched the biggest in franchise history. The 1986 Indians won 84 games after winning just 60 in 1985.
The Indians went 21-6 in September and ended the season on a 10-game winning streak.
Francona led the Boston Red Sox to five postseason appearances and two World Series championships from 2004 through 2011, but was never voted Manager of the Year.
Hurdle guided the Pirates to their first winning season since 1992. They finished 94-68, third-best in the NL.
They lost in five games to the Cardinals in the NL Division Series.
"It's a bit overwhelming, to tell you the truth," Hurdle said in an interview on MLB Network. "It's humbling. It's gratifying from an organizational standpoint."
It was the first Manager of the Year honor for the 56-year-old Hurdle. His highest finish had been third in 2007, when he led the Colorado Rockies to the World Series.
The only other Pittsburgh manager to win the award was Jim Leyland in 1990 and 1992, the bookends to three consecutive division titles for the Pirates.
Hurdle was the only manager picked on every ballot. He had 140 points in the 5-3-1 scoring system to 68 points for Don Mattingly, who received two first-place votes after leading the Dodgers to the NL West title.
Atlanta's Fredi Gonzalez got three first-place votes and finished with 43 points.
Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.
CLEVELAND -- The Indians have released controversial closer Chris Perez and re-signed veteran slugger Jason Giambi.
A two-time All-Star, Perez wore out his welcome in Cleveland. He lost his job in the final week of the season as the Indians were trying to clinch a wild-card berth. It capped another tumultuous year for the right-hander, who was arrested in June after drug agents followed a package containing marijuana to his home. He and his wife pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge.
Perez always seemed to be at the center of something. He angered Indians fans for saying they didn't support the team and he rankled Cleveland's front office when he said it wasn't spending enough to win.
Perez, who was eligible for salary arbitration this winter, recorded 25 saves this past season. He had 124 in five seasons with the Indians, who acquired him in a 2009 trade from St. Louis.
But Perez's saves were rarely routine as he often put runners on base to make things difficult, raising the blood pressure of Cleveland fans and managers.
After he gave up four runs in the ninth inning of a win over Minnesota late in the season, Perez walked into manager Terry Francona's office and told him he didn't want to cost the team a possible playoff berth. Francona promptly pulled him from the closer's role, and there was speculation Perez would be left off the postseason roster.
However, Perez was one of 25 players on the roster for the wild-card loss to Tampa Bay.
Giambi provided leadership to the Indians from the moment he arrived at training camp last spring.
The 42-year-old, who was a finalist for Colorado's managerial job last year, was signed to a minor league contract but it didn't take him long to have a major impact in Cleveland's clubhouse and he contributed some memorable moments on the field.
He twice became the oldest player in major league history to hit a walk-off home run. He broke the record set by Hank Aaron on July 29 against Chicago and then bettered his own mark on Sept. 24 with a two-run, pinch-hit homer with two outs in the ninth to beat the White Sox, a shot that helped propel the Indians to a 10-game winning streak to end the season.
Giambi wrapped Francona in a bear hug after crossing the plate, a snapshot of their tight relationship which grew stronger during the season. Franconia felt Giambi was the team's MVP for his many contributions.
"When you get a guy like that, sometimes it can be once in a lifetime," Franconia said of Giambi, whom he has known since he played in the minors. "He's changed people in the organization. He's made me better. He's made everybody he touches better. That's a very special person."
Francona and general manager Chris Antonetti made it clear following the season that wanted Giambi back -- in any capacity he wished.
"We would like to continue our relationship with G," Francona said, "probably as long as he would like to."
Giambi relished his mentoring role last season, when the Indians won 92 games and made the playoffs for the first times since 2007. He feels like he can still be a productive player and the Indians are thrilled to have him back.
Perez was eligible for arbitration, and based on his stats and a $7.3 million contract last season, he was in line for a hefty raise. But Perez's struggles, along with his tempestuous past, resulted in the Indians cutting ties with him on the first day after the World Series ended.
In 54 games, Perez posted a 4.33 ERA and recorded 54 strikeouts in 54 innings. But after Aug. 1, his ERA was 7.52 ERA and he allowing six runs in his final two appearances.
The Indians also made a minor trade with San Diego, acquiring left-hander Colt Hynes from the Padres for cash considerations. The 28-year-old spent the second half of last season with San Diego, posting a 9.00 ERA in 22 relief outings.
Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.
It’s already been a week since the Cleveland Indians were eliminated by the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League’s one-game wild-card playoff at Progressive Field, losing 4-0. Meanwhile, the Rays 2013 season also came to a crashing end on Tuesday night as they fell to the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS series 3-1.
While losing in the one-game wild-card playoff game to the Rays hurt, Tribe fans probably had an easier time getting over elimination considering none of them had the Indians making the MLB postseason in the first place. Most people loved the hiring of Terry Francona last October, but didn’t expect the first-year skipper to bring this club back to relevancy so quickly.
The rebuilding process for the Tribe has certainly been accelerated by a 92-70 record, an MLB Playoff berth and tons of pieces returning from that successful group; but let’s look ahead to some offseason question marks and decisions that will have to be made by the Indians over the next few months.
Here are ten things I’ll be looking at:
1. ‘Big U’ & ‘Kaz’: Both Ubaldo Jimenez and lefty Scott Kazmir were pleasant surprises during the 2013 campaign and the Indians would like to bring back both next season. Jimenez went 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA and literally pitched the Tribe into the postseason, while Kazmir went 10-9 his first season back in the big leagues in two years and boasted an ERA of 4.04. Both Jimenez and Kazmir have maintained they’d be open to staying in Cleveland, but we all know when agents and the business side of baseball gets involved things can change. Jimenez currently has an $8 million option that he likely will walk away from in hopes of negotiating a new contract with the Indians or another club, while Kazmir will become a free agent. It would be great for the Tribe to re-sign both pitchers, but that probably isn’t likely.
2. Bullpen: In three years the Indians bullpen has not had this much uncertainty heading into an offseason and the front office knows it. Bringing back closer Chris Perez would be a surprise at this point, Joe Smith is a free agent who can probably make more money than the Tribe wants to spend and Vinnie Pestano needs to go back to the drawing board to figure some things out after a disastrous 2013 season. All three: Perez, Pestano and Smith have been integral pieces to the Tribe ‘pen the past three seasons. The good news is the Tribe received solid contributions from Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw and Matt Albers…but there is a lot to figure out with the Indians bullpen before spring training rolls around in February.
Nick Camino checks out Vinnie Pestano during a bullpen session earlier this year in spring training. Photo courtesy of MLB.com
3. Another bat: A year ago at this time the Indians were eyeing a right-handed power bat to help balance out their lineup. Today they’re still looking for that same piece. Last year the Tribe signed Mark Reynolds who certainly provided pop and helped the Indians, but only for the month of April and part of May. Another big bopper is needed in the middle of the Tribe lineup because right now there is no legitimate cleanup hitter on this club. Look for the Indians to sign somebody who can change the complexion of a baseball game with one swing of the bat.
4. Giambi: The 42-year-old veteran was crowned Team MVP by Terry Francona for the 2013 season mainly because of what he brought to the club off-the-field. Calling team meetings and talking with young players daily was valuable for the Tribe and having versatile bench players like Ryan Raburn and Mike Aviles gave the Indians the luxury to carry a player like Giambi. Yes, he only hit .183, but his ability to change the complexion of a baseball game with one swing of the bat is why he was signed, not to bat lead-off. In re-signing Aviles and Raburn it appears the Indians will have the luxury to carry Giambi on the 25-man roster again. The veteran slugger has voiced he wants to play one more season and the Indians have said they would definitely welcome him back.
5. Sandy Alomar: Will the former Tribe catcher, now first base coach, be back next season? I certainly think it is a question worth asking. Immediately after the 2013 season ended Terry Francona announced coaching changes that will see former third base coach Brad Mills join Tito on the bench, former first base coach Mike Sarbaugh go to third base and Alomar bumped from the bench to go back to first base where he coached two seasons under former skipper Manny Acta. While Francona sold this move as, “Sandy is a big part of the running game being a former catcher,” the bottom line is he wanted former college roommate and longtime bench coach in Boston “Millsie” next to him. Going from the bench to first base is a demotion. Does Alomar care? I’m not sure. But he’s probably trying to line up some job interviews as we speak.
Terry Francona elected to move Sandy Alomar from the bench to first base. Is this the end for Alomar on the Indians coaching staff? AP Photo
6. Third base: Lonnie Chisenhall finished off a disappointing season (.225, 11 HR) with three hits in the one-game wild-card playoff game against the Rays making Francona look like a genius yet again for even starting him in that contest. The Indians still feel Chisenhall is the future and at 24-years-old I think fans are willing to give him another shot next season in the full-time role. However, down the stretch there was a reason why we saw more of utility man Mike Aviles at third base. Don’t be surprised if the Indians bring in a veteran third baseman or infielder that will push Chisenhall during spring training and maybe even compete for the job at the hot corner.
7. Spending more money: Last offseason Indians ownership spent nearly $117 million on free agents in guaranteed contracts which is more money than the New York Yankees spent in that same category. Yes, the Yankees payroll was higher, but Paul Dolan certainly made a serious investment in locking up key free agents like Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn and spending more money in one offseason than the previous three combined. A lot of the money spent last offseason came via the deal that sold Dolan’s Sportstime Ohio TV Network to FOX Sports. I’m not sure if the Indians will spend as much as they did a year ago, but I do think ownership got a first-hand look into what can happen in just one season when you dig a little bit deeper into your pocket.
8. Disappointments: I’ll keep this short. Nobody wants to relive the brutal one-game wild-card performances from Michael Bourn and Asdrubal Cabrera. However, according to manager Terry Francona, Bourn was playing through some injuries. As for Cabrera, the excuses have likely run out. The Tribe shortstop followed up an abysmal 2013 season with an even worse wild-card playoff game. He’s owed $10 million next season so he could be back…but the Indians are likely doing whatever they can to shop him throughout the offseason.
Asdrubal Cabrera was one of the Indians biggest disappointments during the 2013 season. AP Photo
9. Character is key: For years the Indians have always signed players with high character and simply guys that were easy to get along with. They shifted away from that this year when they signed right-hander Brett Myers and to some extent Mark Reynolds. Reynolds seemed to turn his disgruntled attitude at Francona and the coaching staff when he wasn’t playing every day when we all know there was only one person to blame for that. As for Myers, probably one of the worst individual’s I have ever met in my entire life. Yes, not just baseball…my life. To boot, various teammates told me his “bad-ass” attitude had grown tired in the Indians clubhouse. Again, rare that it happens…but the Indians need to make sure they sign players who fit.
10. Season tickets: This is a pretty simple concept. Season tickets must be sold this offseason. With a season-ticket base only around 6,000 this past season it was impossible for the Tribe to get good crowds on a nightly basis. That is asking 24,000 people to walk up and buy a ticket on a Wednesday night…it just won’t happen. Major League Baseball teams build their foundation of good attendance through their season ticket holders. We know it is possible to pack Progressive Field…just look at the atmosphere of Wednesday’s one-game wild-card playoff. Bravo by the way! That was awesome. However, it is time to try and create that type of atmosphere than just the final game of the season. Season tickets must be sold and I have to believe they will…fans are ready to hop on the bandwagon.
- Nick Camino
CLEVELAND -- They shut off the lights, cranked up the music and turned their clubhouse into a nightclub.
As Pitbull's "Don't Stop The Party" boomed off walls covered by plastic sheets, the Tampa Bay Rays sprayed each other with Silly String and emptied bottles of champagne as quickly as they could open them.
This road trip isn't ending anytime soon.
"Nobody wants to go home," pitcher Alex Cobb said.
Next stop: Boston.
Dodging trouble for nearly seven innings, Cobb and the Rays pitched their way to another must-have win on the road, beating the Cleveland Indians 4-0 Wednesday night in the AL wild-card game.
Cobb, who missed a chunk of the regular season after he was hit in the head by a line drive, quieted a thundering Cleveland crowd and ended the Indians' unexpected season just one game into October.
Delmon Young homered in the third inning off rookie Danny Salazar as the Rays, playing in their third city over four days, advanced to face the AL East champion Red Sox in the best-of-five division series starting Friday.
"I felt like we've done it and been here before," said Desmond Jennings, who hit a two-run double in the fourth to give the Rays a 3-0 lead. "The road we took to get here was pretty tough, going to New York, Toronto, playing a game in Texas."
Cobb's comeback in August from his frightening injury helped stabilize the Rays, who have spent the past two weeks winning crucial games to reach the postseason for the fourth time in six years. He pitched out of massive jams in the fourth and fifth, and allowed two runners to reach in the seventh before turning it over to Tampa Bay's dependable bullpen.
"Maybe it was good that I got into some jams," Cobb said. "It made me slow down and make the pitches that I needed to."
Fernando Rodney worked a perfect ninth, striking out Lonnie Chisenhall to end it. Rodney dropped to one knee, pointed skyward and soon was mobbed by all the Rays, who may be homesick but aren't complaining about being Boston-bound.
"I've got to wash some clothes or buy some socks or something," first baseman James Loney said.
Unfazed by a raucous, red-clad, towel-waving crowd of 43,579 that roared like a jet engine inside Progressive Field, the Rays handled the Indians and will now face their division nemesis, the Red Sox, who went 12-7 against Tampa Bay this season.
David Price set the tone for the Rays' postseason run by throwing a complete game to beat Texas in the wild-card tiebreaker Monday night, and Cobb picked up where his teammate left off. After he was pulled in the seventh, Cobb walked to the dugout where he was first greeted with a high-five from Price.
"The adrenaline was going pretty fast there in the early going," Cobb said. "Once Delmon hit that home run, I tried to fill up the strike zone. My stuff wasn't the best, but I made my defense work. They were awesome."
Since Sunday, the Rays have won in Toronto, Texas and now Cleveland. Their next destination -- Fenway Park -- won't be any more welcoming.
"It's been a blur. I don't know if that's because of the concussion or it's just been up and down all year," Cobb said. "You know, I came out of camp not even knowing if I was going to be on the team."
A few months later, he wasn't even sure he would pitch again this season.
On June 15, Cobb suffered a concussion when he was struck in the right ear by a line drive hit by Kansas City's Eric Hosmer. Cobb was sidelined for 50 games and Tuesday recalled lying on his sofa and wondering if he would be able to help the Rays again. In 2011, he missed the playoffs after undergoing surgery to remove a blood clot.
But not only did Cobb go 5-1 after his scary moment, the 25-year-old finished 11-3 in 22 starts and manager Joe Maddon didn't hesitate giving him the ball for the winner-take-all wild-card game.
"They're nerve-racking, but it's going to be no different in Boston," Evan Longoria said. "There's a little comfort knowing we're going to play a series, but at the same time we have to play every game like this one."
The Indians went from 94 losses a year ago to 92 wins under first-year manager Terry Francona and won their last 10 games to make the postseason for the first time since 2007.
But it was one and done for Cleveland, which didn't capitalize on scoring opportunities. The first three hitters, Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher and Jason Kipnis, went a combined 0 for 12.
"It hurts. We didn't want to go home yet," Francona said.
The road-tested Rays, who have traveled 3,627 miles since leaving home on Sept. 23, gave Cobb a three-run cushion on Jennings' double.
Cobb was in trouble in the bottom of the inning as the Indians loaded the bases on a double, single and walk. But he got Asdrubal Cabrera to hit a grounder to Loney, who threw to second for a force and shortstop Yunel Escobar fired to Cobb covering first for the double play.
Cobb pumped both fists in celebration, knowing he had escaped danger.
The Indians threatened again in the fifth, putting two on with none out. But Cobb struck out Bourn, got Swisher to ground to first and retired All-Star Jason Kipnis on a soft-as-cotton comebacker.
"I think more than they did not come through," Maddon said, "you've got to give him credit for making big pitches when he had to."
Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.
(Cleveland) - Indians manager Terry Francona still has some faith in Chris Perez.
Despite being demoted from closer last Friday, Perez is on the roster for tonight's Wild Card game at Progressive Field.
Perez allowed four runs and four hits in last Thursday's 6-5 win over Minnesota, retiring just two batters. He was 25 saves in 30 chances but has a 7.52 ERA since Aug. 1, raising his season average to 4.33
"We want to get him back to helping us, because he's got a bunch of saves. You don't just give up on that," Manager Terry Francona said. "He says he's completely healthy. He's just not locating."
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(Copyright © 2013 by Clear Channel, all rights reserved. Photo by Jason Miller-Getty Images Sport)
WTAM 1100 Cleveland Indians beat reporter Nick Camino breaks down five things he’ll have on his mind when the Tribe battles the Tampa Bay Rays at Progressive Field in their one-game playoff Wednesday night at 8:07 pm ET.
The optional and official team workouts are complete. Speeches by both respective managers have been given to their clubs. It’s time to finally play some baseball. For Cleveland, the most meaningful game this late in a season since 2007 when they came within one game of the World Series.
When the Indians and Rays clash in Wednesday’s one-game playoff at a sold out Progressive Field to see who travels to Fenway Park to battle the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS, there are five things I’ll definitely be pondering…well, maybe more than just five; but here are some important thoughts…
1. Familiar foes: Watching how Terry Francona and Joe Maddon manage this one-game affair of win-or-go-home will be interesting. Both of their clubs will have well rested bullpens and players off the bench, so there could be a ton of mixing and matching throughout the evening. Francona and Maddon have mutual respect for each other having faced off plenty of times while Tito was in Boston not only in the regular season, but also the Playoffs. During Tuesday’s press conferences both were complimentary of each other, which is not surprising, but very telling of just how good these guys are in their craft. I don’t think Maddon would have spoken as highly of say, Ned Yost. Francona and Maddon have proven year after year that they are two of the better managers in all of Major League Baseball and their track records prove it.
2. Pitching and defense: The Rays and Indians are actually mirror images of each other. Both teams have received strong contributions from their starting staffs and bullpens (Tampa Bay’s ‘pen is better), while also playing great defense. Francona has said all season long if his club plays a clean game (error free, crisp baseball), they are difficult to beat. This is true, but it seems like Maddon’s club always plays a clean game. Wednesday night’s one-game playoff should be low scoring and it probably will come down to who is more dominant between Alex Cobb and Danny Salazar, as well as the bullpens. The Tribe certainly has a dangerous weapon in the ‘pen now in Justin Masterson. These teams are very much alike, it’s why they’ve reached this point and it’s why Wednesday night’s showdown will be a close match up.
3. Ready for a long game: Be ready for a five hour game…seriously. No sarcasm involved. With Francona and Maddon having fresh bullpens and full benches, they will use every man on the 25-man roster if they have to. This will be treated like a Game 7, as it should be. Both managers have a ton of weapons to use in a lot of different facets of this game and both intend to use them all.
4. Swisher/Bourn/Cabrera: The three highest paid position players on the Indians this season are Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn and Asdrubal Cabrera…now is their time to shine. Yes, all three have been solid throughout this 2013 season and in the second half guys like Swisher and Cabrera really put the pedal to the metal. However, the postseason is when your highly paid starts need to rise to the occasion. Yes, guys like Salazar, Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley will be vital to this Indians club’s success…but the big money players must show up for Cleveland.
5. Packed house: For only the third time this 2013 season Progressive Field will be sold out on Wednesday night for the one-game playoff. The park holds just over 41,000 these days and with the way Progressive field is built architecturally, getting a lot of fans with energy in that place makes it one of the most difficult places to play in Major League Baseball. Opposing players have told me, when Progressive Field is sold out…the ballpark literally shakes. Hopefully fans are into it, I’d expect them to be. And hopefully this draws more people for future games whether it is the Playoffs or next season. Low attendance needs to be fixed and it’s a combination of the fans and the Cleveland Indians needing to revisit some things in the offseason. Nevertheless, Wednesday should be fun!
- Nick Camino
(Cleveland) - Former Tribe slugger Andre Thornton, a four-time All-Star and Indians Hall of Famer, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game tonight.
Thornton calls it "an honor and a privilege" to participate. He calls it an exciting night for Cleveland.
As for advice for the players? Thornton says they should "keep doing what you're doing". Thornton admits none of the teams he played on made it to this level.
Thorton thinks it's a resilient team that plays well together, even when times got tough.
Thornton talked about the honor and the 2013 Indians with WTAM's Darren Toms:
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(Copyright © 2013 by Clear Channel, all rights reserved. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images Sport)
(Cleveland) – It’s time for Cleveland to do what the Texas Rangers fans could not…cheer the home team to a Wild Card victory.
By beating the Rangers in Arlington Monday night, the Tampa Bay Rays have earned the right to play at Progressive Field Wednesday night.
The Indians are encouraging fans to “Rock Your Red” as the team makes its first Postseason appearance since 2007.
Tribe fans are encouraged to wear red clothing to support the club as it pushes for a spot in the American League Division Series. In addition, each fan will receive a white rally towel, courtesy of Progressive Insurance.
“Our players have said repeatedly that our fans’ passion drives them on the field,” said Indians President Mark Shapiro. “Let’s ‘Rock our Red’ on Wednesday to push them to a Wild Card victory and show the nation that this is a Tribe Town!”
The Indians will have a number of festivities for fans prior to Wednesday’s game.
Former Tribe slugger Andre Thornton, a four-time All-Star and Indians Hall of Famer, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game. Veteran local singer Dan Polk will sing the National Anthem.
The “Mike Trivisonno Show” will broadcast live from the Champion Windows Studio inside Progressive Field from 3PM-6PM on Wednesday.
All Gates for the Wild Card Game, which is a sellout, will open at 6PM. The Indians encourage fans to be in their seats early to see all the pre-game festivities.
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(Copyright © 2013 by Clear Channel, all rights reserved.)