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.) -- With the Cactus League opener just a few days away and workouts still in full swing, this seems like the perfect opportunity to share ten things I think fans might find interesting about spring training thus far for the Indians.
Wednesday afternoon was the club's first intrasquad game, so after watching all five innings and a workout beforehand, here are some things that have come to mind recently:
1. Sizemore update: Following the five-inning intrasquad game Tribe skipper Manny Acta was asked for an update on center fielder Grady Sizemore, who strained his lower back three weeks ago while fielding grounders in the outfield. Acta responded saying, "We'll have an update for you guys tomorrow (Thursday)." Told that sounded "ominous", Acta did not really respond. I can only speculate, but in covering the club the past three years I have never received an update on a player if his rehab process is going great. It appears there may have been another setback or perhaps another injury. Follow me on Twitter @CaminoTribe for the latest.
2. Early impressions: Not particularly my own thought here, but Acta did admit from the few batting practices he has seen, drills, bullpen sessions and one five-inning intrasquad game, that he has been impressed with OF Aaron Cunningham and RHP Tyler Sturdevant. Obviously it is still early, but it never hurts to make a good first impression.
3. Offense key for Chisenhall: When looking at the third base competition between Lonnie Chisenhall and Jack Hannahan it is clear the Indians and Tribe skipper Manny Acta will be looking at one main thing: offense. Yes, defense is important, but Acta has already admitted Hannahan is the superior defensive third baseman. More valuable to the Indians is offense, and Chisenhall definitely has the stick. He hit .255 last season but his potential is through the roof. If the second-year third baseman can hit well this spring, he might snag the job. But if Hannahan has another hot spring like he did just one year ago to make the club, he might get the nod come Opening Day because Gold Glove-type defense is hard to find.
4. Utility infield spot: The favorite to win the job is certainly Jason Donald. However, the Indians also brought in infielders Jose Lopez and Cristian Guzman to compete for that same spot. Just three years ago Lopez hit .292 and Acta said he has come to camp in great shape after playing winter ball. Being right-handed won't hurt Lopez either. As for Guzman he's also a guy who has been around and had success at the big league level. This might be a closer competition than I would have thought a month ago.
5. Hanny and Cabby: Wow. I took in some infield practice on one of the back fields here at the Indians Player Development Complex and I am still trying to think of a left side of an infield that compares to Jack Hannahan and Asdrubal Cabrera in the American League. If Hannahan wins the third base job, opposing clubs will have a difficult time getting a ball through the Tribe's infield...especially on the left side.
6. Mike Hargrove: I spent 25 minutes on a back field watching former Indians manager Mike Hargrove hit ground balls to both Shelley Duncan and Russ Canzler at first base. He had both players keep there right hand in their back pockets. After the drill I asked 'Grover' about the awkward looking drill, he said it helps work on foot skills and balance. Both Duncan and Canzler have come to camp in great shape and will compete to make the Tribe's Opening Day roster.
7. Expanded MLB Playoffs: It appears Major League Baseball is on the verge of expanding the eight-team playoff format to 10 and Manny Acta likes it. With two new wildcard spots looking imminent, it will give more teams a chance to play postseason baseball and that makes the Tribe skipper happy. Acta mentioned how a one-game playoff for those clubs could make the last few days of the season very exciting. For teams like the Indians and the Toronto Blue Jays I am happy, but for baseball in general I am not sure. I'll revert back to the old axiom, "If it ain't broke don't fix it." MLB has the best postseason of any sport, yes including March Madness and the 68-team NCAA Tournament, why change something that has worked so well?
8. March 15 still in mind for Perez: Indians closer Chris Perez is still eyeing a March 15 return despite it falling short of the 4-6 weeks head trainer Lonnie Soloff felt the recovery would take for a strained internal oblique. Perez, who injured the muscle throwing his first bullpen session of spring camp last week, is continuing to rehab and feels he will be ready for Opening Day on April 5 in Cleveland.
9. Huff gets the nod: No, left-hander David Huff is not the 2012 Opening Day starter for the Cleveland Indians. The 27-year old is in camp still competing for the fifth-starter spot in the Tribe's rotation with Kevin Slowey, Jeanmar Gomez and Zach McAllister, however he will open the Cactus League schedule for the Indians on Saturday, March 3 against the Cincinnati Reds. As for the Opening Day starter, it is between Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez; Acta plans to announce who gets the start Opening Day on Friday morning.
10. "Let the games begin": The words of manager Manny Acta have been ringing in my ear ever since he said them on Tuesday, Feb. 28. I'm happy I am not the only person sick of watching PFP drills and bullpen sessions. Oh, batting practice too. It seems like Acta, his coaches and the players are ready to play some baseball...against another team.
- Nick Camino