On a cool and rainy day in northeast Ohio, there was something comforting about seeing the Cleveland Indians back on the ball diamond once again.
A new look Tribe, returning one familiar face in Carlos Santana after purging several others in the offseason (including the loved-or-hated Chief Wahoo), will get its work in from Arizona this spring, with many roster spots up for grabs. In addition to a wide open battle for bullpen spots around closer Brad Hand, the Indians have a wildly uncertain outfield picture as well as a need to crown a utility man to start the season.
The Cleveland Indians will conduct their first full-squad workout today ahead of Major League Baseball kicking off the 2019 season. All 30 teams will take the field on March 28 with the league’s earliest start ever (excluding international openers). Follow along with Did The Tribe Win Last Night as we count down the days until Opening Day 2019. – BT
Countdown to Opening Day – 38 days
The Indians seemed to be showing some faith in the catching depth in the organization since last July, trading away top prospect Francisco Mejia to the San Diego Padres at the trade deadline and All-Star backstop Yan Gomes to the Washington Nationals in November. The moves took the position from an area to strength to a sudden area of concern, as light-hitting defensive specialist Roberto Perez and #38 Eric Haase became the only two catchers on the 40-man roster.
Haase, 26 and a 2011 seventh round pick, spent the majority of his eighth season in the organization at Triple-A Columbus last season, his first full season with the Clippers (he played the final two games of the 2017 season there as well). One of the club’s big movers in the last couple of years, thanks in large part to the systematic emphasis on launch angle to help revolutionize the long ball in its most prolific increase since the steroid era, Haase has to feel good about where he stands in the front office’s eyes if they were willing to move the present and the future of the position to bring in All-Star closer Brad Hand and to free up money over the course of the next few years.
An Indians lineup composed of bench pieces, recent minor league call-ups, and players getting in routine work while returning from injury challenged the Tigers on Sunday, but a ninth-inning rally fell just short as Detroit claimed a 6-4 win in Cleveland.
The Tigers (61-88) took a series from the Indians (83-66) for just the second time this season, improving to 6-13 against the Tribe this season. Cleveland owned Detroit throughout the year, outscoring the division rival 116-47 for the season. The Indians rested all of the regulars on Sunday, one day after formally clinching the American League Central crown for the third straight season, but the backups did their best to try to bring Cleveland another win.
A four-run seventh inning gave the Tampa Bay Rays a 6-0 lead and their bullpen held on for dear life in the ninth to secure a 6-4 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Sunday afternoon.
The Rays (73-63) won for the eleventh time in their last 13 games and took the series from the Indians (77-59) in the rubber match in a game that got away from Cleveland in a hurry in the seventh frame with the club already down 2-0.
Columbus’ Eric Haase stormed into the All-Star break with some big series last week against the Toledo Mud Hens and the Indianapolis Indians to conclude the first half of the Triple-A schedule. For his efforts, he was named the International League’s Player of the Week for games played between July 2 and July 8.
Haase played in all seven games during the week and had hits in five of the contests. He went 9-for-26 (.346) at the plate and added two walks to provide the Clippers with a .379 on-base percentage. Six of his nine hits during the week were for extra bases as he tallied a .731 slugging percentage. It earned him his second career Player of the Week award, coming almost a year to the date of his first win last July 8 while playing for the Double-A Akron RubberDucks.
The Columbus Clippers will kick off a special 2018 season on Friday night.
Huntington Park will play host to both the Triple-A All-Star Game on July 11 and the Triple-A National Championship Game on September 18, putting the home of the Clippers in the spotlight for some of the biggest games in minor league baseball in 2018. This season also happens to be the tenth anniversary of the Clippers move downtown from their old digs at Cooper Stadium.
Last season, the Clippers missed the playoffs, finishing second in the International League’s West Division with a 71-71 record. The team has a lot of new faces for 2018, looking to improve upon that mark under another year of Chris Tremie’s leadership. It will be year 13 as a manager for Tremie in the Indians’ farm system, including his sixth straight season at the helm in Columbus.
With ten days until the start of the regular season, the Cleveland Indians made their biggest camp cuts of the spring on Monday as eleven players were optioned, reassigned, or released by the club. The moves lowered the team’s spring training population at the Goodyear complex from 50 residents to 39.
Most of the moves were expected, but a pair were much more significant to the makeup of things come March 29 when the season kicks off. Yandy Diaz and prospects Eric Haase and Eric Stamets were optioned to Triple-A Columbus. Offseason additions Brandon Barnes, Preston Claiborne, Stephen Fife, and Neil Ramirez, in addition to returning minor leaguers Cameron Hill and Richie Shaffer, were reassigned to minor league camp. Veteran catcher Ryan Hanigan and outfielder Melvin Upton, Jr. were given their releases from their previously agreed upon minor league deals to search for jobs elsewhere.
Diaz and Upton were the most significant moves of the day.
The first weekend of Cactus League play is in the books and the Cleveland Indians had, as expected, some good and some bad to show for it. After opening the spring training calendar with a home loss to the Cincinnati Reds, 6-4, on Friday from their shared complex at Goodyear Ballpark in Arizona, the Tribe notched its first win of the exhibition season with an 11-2 win on Saturday from Salt River Fields at Talking Stick against the Arizona Diamondbacks. They returned home to Goodyear, this time playing as the visitors on Sunday, playing to a 2-2 tie against a split-squad Reds team.
Now, a look at how some of the temporary residents of Arizona fared in their first weekend back out in the sun…
The offseason begins with a lot of minor moves for teams that oftentimes get lost in the shuffle of an otherwise busy fall and winter break from playing.
The Cleveland Indians completed some of their mandatory moves on Monday, adding several players to the 40-man roster, opening another spot by declining an option, and extending one very important qualifying offer.
Akron catcher Eric Haase put on an impressive display of power over the last week and in doing so, was named the Eastern League’s Player of the Week for games played between July 3 and July 9.
Haase entered action last week already on a hitting tear at the plate, coming in with a four-game hitting streak that included three consecutive multi-hit games to start it. He would notch hits in every game that he played in, hitting .400 for the week with two doubles, a triple, four home runs and seven runs batted in.
When the Akron RubberDucks have not been dodging rain drops, they have played with mixed results. To be fair, when six games have been rained out or suspended over the course of the first three weeks of a month, it may be hard to find a rhythm on the diamond.
Rains wiped away contests last weekend, washing out the rest of the ‘Ducks’ series after getting a pair of wins to open the five-game series from Binghamton. The team returned home soggy to Canal Park and performed well, taking two of three from the Richmond Flying Squirrels. After dropping a 3-1 decision in the opener last Monday, they put up 6-1 and 7-5 victories to take the series and inch within a game of the .500 mark. That would be as close to an even record as they would get as their tough series in Hartford against the Yard Goats ended in three consecutive losses to wrap up the weekend. Akron was dealt one-run losses on both Friday and Saturday before a 5-2 final in the finale.
The Akron RubberDucks have put their five-game losing streak of a week ago to bed as they reeled off five straight wins through Monday night’s action to improve to 8-9 with the Eastern League’s longest active winning streak.
The ‘Ducks finished their two-city road trip with a pair of wins in Reading, including a resounding 12-2 victory in the finale last Wednesday. It capped off a series against the Fightin Phils in which Akron scored 24 runs and allowed 13 during the three-game set. They returned home for their second homestand of the season and swept the Altoona Curve in three straight over the weekend, including a pair of 3-2 victories on Friday and Saturday (including an 11th inning two-out walk-off single from Joe Sever on Saturday) before a more decisive 6-1 win on Sunday afternoon. They opened their three game series with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies with a 5-2 victory on Monday night, using a three-run sixth to break a 2-2 tie.