Canzler Hoping Early Season Struggles Lead to Late Season Call Up
By Evan Matsumoto
Young talent in the Indians organization is not hard to come by; in a league where the median age is 28.8 years old, the Tribe fields a team whose average age is 27.2 years—the fifth youngest in the majors.
Promotion from the Triple-A Columbus Clippers is a regular occurrence among players on Cleveland’s active roster. Almost a dozen players on Cleveland’s 25-man active roster were promoted from Columbus, including Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall, who is on the 60-day disabled list due to a fractured right ulna bone. It’s not absurd to think, then, that the Tribe is looking to promote from within for the last leg of the season.
Russ Canzler is a name that sparks interest around Clevaland. Canzler made his Major-League debut with Tampa Bay last season but has spent the 2012 season in Columbus after being acquired by the Tribe on January 31 for cash.
The power-hitting infielder is batting .260 on the season with a .329 OBP. He has 107 hits, including 17 homeruns, 2 triples and 28 doubles.
Canzler’s most impressive statistic, though, is his slugging percentage—.462 this season—giving him a .791 OPS. The highest OPS for a Cleveland batter this year with at least 100 at-bats is Shin-Soo Choo (.841).
His stats aren’t necessarily indicative of the season he is having now, however; Canzler’s June has changed quite a bit from his April and May.
“I felt like I did a pretty good job in June kind of turning things around a little bit. Obviously, I didn’t have the start I hoped for here. April and May were a little rough for me but I got a lot of support from Phil Clark, our hitting coach, and Mike Sarabaugh, our manager, to keep pushing and keep grinding it out in the (batting) cage and try to work on my swing,” Canzler said.
The swing he is talking about changed a little bit from what he used to do. The beginning of the year saw a closed stance that got beat inside a lot. Opening the stance up and keeping weight on his back side a little longer improved his game, Canzler said. But there was more to the swing than just his mechanics.
“Really, the big thing for me is just to try not to put too much pressure on myself,” Canzler said. “I’m the kind of guy where if I’m not trying the ball will leave the yard sometimes and if I’m trying to it’s not going to. I think that was the case early in the year. I was just putting too much pressure on myself, I was trying to do way too much, trying to hit a homerun every at bat.”
The call could be coming soon for Canzler and some other young players. With the Indians in third place in the Al Central, nine games back from first-place Chicago, and with fans’ collective towel being thrown in, now would be the most ideal time to make a roster move—or two—to see if the Tribe can make a late-season, Detroit-esque run.
“It would be a great honor (to be called up). That’s what we all work for at this level,” Canzler said. For me, that would be great. I’m working very hard for that and hopefully the Indians feel like I’m ready.”
Photo: Andrew Mascharka