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.
(GOODYEAR, Ariz.) – The Cleveland Indians are less than two weeks away from their season opener in Toronto when they visit the Blue Jays for a three-game series at the Rogers Centre. Until that time manager Terry Francona and the front office still have to figure out who will be on the 25-man roster come April 1. As for me, well, I’ll be pondering what the 2013 MLB season may bring for the Tribe.
The Indians enjoyed their last off day Tuesday before beginning their final preparations in spring training for the 2013 year. While many players golfed, relaxed or spent time with family, I did loads of laundry, hosted “Indians Spring Training Weekly” on WTAM 1100 and put together this blog of “Off Day Indians Thoughts”. Quite the off day for me huh?!?!
Here are ten things to look for as spring training comes to a close:
1. Kazmir likely No. 5 starter: Barring something unforeseen, I would imagine LHP Scott Kazmir breaks camp with the Indians as the final starter in their pitching rotation. Kazmir will join Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Brett Myers and Zach McAllister in a rotation that carries a ton of question marks with it into the 2013 season. Kazmir has pitched the best out of all the candidates in the running for the final spot and it appears the Indians want to get a good look at RHP Trevor Bauer for a little bit at Triple-A Columbus. My guess is, we could see Bauer by May or June though.
Left-hander Scott Kazmir looks to be the favorite to land the final spot in the Indians starting rotation.
2. Dice-K headed to C-bus: It was a smart move for RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka to stay with the Indians after he learned he would not break camp with the big league club on Monday. Dice-K still needs to ramp up his work load innings-wise and make sure his calf muscle does not act up anymore. If Dice-K can get things figured out at Triple-A, there is no reason not to think he will be pitching in Cleveland at some point. When was the last time an MLB team made it through an entire 162-game season with the same starting five they left spring training with?
3. Perez = Nostradamus: Indians closer Chris Perez maintained this week that he knew the Indians probably would not be good heading into last season. Winning games by one run and using countless comeback victories to stay in first place would only last so long according to the two-time All-Star. Perez said he does not feel that way about this year’s club, however last season he was always waiting for the “other shoe to drop.” Boy did the shoe ever drop! It free-fell. A historically bad 5-24 month of August completely derailed the Tribe a year ago.
4. Cord Phelps future utility man: It sounds like the Indians are looking at INF Cord Phelps as a future utility man. I doubt he breaks camp this spring with the Tribe, but that doesn’t mean you won’t see him in Cleveland at some point this upcoming season. Terry Francona and his staff want to get Phelps some work at first base before spring is over with; they already know he can play the other three infield positions (2B, SS, 3B). Phelps has had a really nice spring hitting the ball and if he can show his versatility defensively, he can certainly help this club down the road. With that said, I expect Mike Aviles and Ryan Raburn to represent the Indians utility options of the bench to start the season.
5. Allen in: I learned last Friday, March 15, that Cody Allen would open the 2013 season in the Cleveland Indians bullpen. Manager Terry Francona told the hard-throwing right-hander last week following a rough outing at Goodyear Ballpark against the San Francisco Giants. In fact, a day earlier Francona virtually told Allen to dial things back a little bit because he knew he was pushing hard to make the club. After getting rocked by the Giants, Francona called Allen back into his office and told him the good news. The word came as a surprise to Allen, but not to anybody who has seen him pitch this spring. He deserves the spot, but as Allen said himself, he has options so he must continue to pitch well once the 2013 season begins.
Cody Allen will start the 2013 season in the Indians bullpen.
6. Brantley confident: In talking with Indians left fielder Michael Brantley I’m of the belief that he has bought into his role with the club. Brantley led the club in hitting a year ago (.288) and he’s swinging the bat nicely again here in spring camp. He is excited to play alongside Michael Bourn and Drew Stubbs and seems to relish being a part of the fastest outfield in Major League Baseball. I feel like Brantley is underrated and due for a big 2013 season. Terry Francona has called his swing “gorgeous”, and that is very hard to disagree with.
7. More on Chris Perez: It is important to note that barring any type of setback Tribe closer Chris Perez will be ready come Opening Day April 2 in Toronto. Perez is anxious to get back to action and I expect him to face hitters in Cactus League exhibition play very soon. The right shoulder strain that he dealt with was unfortunate, but the hard-throwing right-hander dealt with a more serious injury (oblique) a year ago. Perez and manager Terry Francona have maintained Opening Day is simply an “artificial deadline” and they will only pitch him when he’s ready…but knowing the type of competitor Perez is, plan on seeing him on the mound at the Rogers Centre if there is a save situation.
8. Giambi should make it: I am anticipating DH/1B Jason Giambi to make the team. Since the beginning of camp Terry Francona has praised his leadership and being “THE” veteran player. Francona did mention at the beginning of camp they wanted to make sure he could at least contribute in a part-time role (DHing against right-handed pitching) and Giambi has done that. He has two home runs this spring and has proven he still has enough left in the tank to start the 2013 season with the Tribe. What he brings to this club, especially if it’s in the hunt could be invaluable.
Don't be surprised if 42-year-old Jason Giambi opens the 2013 season with the Tribe.
9. Swisher will play RF too: Terry Francona mentioned these final two weeks in camp we will see Nick Swisher play a little bit of right field. His arm is stretched out and he played there extensively with the New York Yankees over the past four years so this should not be a problem, but it speaks to the versatility of this Indians roster. In fact, because of Swisher’s ability to play right field, it allows Michael Bourn to get a rest in center field and it provides Ryan Raburn an opportunity to stay on the club. With no true fourth outfielder, Swisher can fill that need when necessary.
Both Mark Reynolds and Michael Brantley are looking to have big 2013 seasons with the Indians even if they have some fun while doing it.
10. “Renegade Reynolds”: I’m not sure if this nickname will stick for new Indians DH/1B Mark Reynolds but if this guy makes contact, look out! Last Friday, March 15, in Maryvale Reynolds blasted a home run over 450 feet against the Brewers. Over the past five years he has cut back on strike outs and focused on making contact more. He is the right-handed power bat Indians fans have desperately called my post-game radio shows on WTAM 1100 for the past three seasons. Yes, he will strike out, but the “Renegade” has a chance to change the complexion of a baseball game with one powerful swing of the bat. It’s about time the Tribe had a guy like this. Is there any chance he gets back to hitting 44 HRs and driving in 102 RBIs like he did in 2009 with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Tribe fans would probably take half of that!
- Nick Camino