Canzler Looking For A Chance To Make Roster
Each week through Spring Training the DTTWLN staff will profile and break down the players in camp for the Indians at Goodyear, Arizona and examine their potential roles for the season to come. This week, we continue our Goodyear coverage by breaking down the players who are battling for a chance to make the Opening Day roster.
By Mike Brandyberry
All Russ Canzler is looking for is a chance. Well, he might have just found that chance, albeit a small one, with the Cleveland Indians this spring.
Canzler was obtained by the Indians on January 31 from the Tampa Bay Rays. When the Rays signed Carlos Pena, Canzler was designated for assignment and the Tribe acquired the utility man for cash. Canzler was a 30th round selection by the Chicago Cubs in 2004. Since his selection, Canzler has certainly taken the slow road to the big leagues, playing eight season in the minor leagues before appearing in his first Major League game in September with the Rays.
However, last season may have been his best as a professional when he won the batting title in the International League with the Durham Bulls. Canzler hit .314, with 18 home runs and 83 runs batted in. It was his first season at AAA, and despite his best season, the Rays had little problem parting with the hitter.
Canzler never was a prospect, so turning 26 shortly after Opening Day does not tarnish any marquee status. The right-handed hitter can play four positions on the field. While his best spot is first base, he can also play third base, left field and right field. If Canzler’s power that developed over the last year and a half continues, he could battle for a spot as a utility man off the bench or the starting left field position.
Realistically, with Shelley Duncan and Aaron Cunningham out of option, Canzler still has an uphill fight to earn one of the 13 position player roster spots. He’ll have to drastically outplay one or both players to give the Indians reason to try and send one of the two through waivers and return them to the minor leagues. Canzler still has options and can return to Columbus freely.
Expect to see Canzler in many positions during exhibition games this March. He’s already hit a grand slam in one of the team’s intrasquad games. Slight or not, Canzler is just looking for a chance.
Photo: Jordan Bastian/MLB.com