The Indians are moving into 2015 with little change in the names from their 2014 roster. While the Opening Day roster will not be set for another couple of weeks once Spring Training starts to get underway, it’s safe to say that many of the faces Clevelanders will see take the field on April 10 will be similar to those they saw the year before.
Despite invitations to big league spring training, it’s doubtful that prospects such as Francisco Lindor or Tyler Naquin will make the big league team from the get-go. Rather, their invites to spring training will serve as springboards to their careers and will give them a taste of the Major League atmosphere.
More likely than not, though things have the potential to change, the Indians Opening Day roster will be comprised of player who saw Progressive Field last season. As the season continues, it is likely that some of the organizations’ high level prospects will have their chance to make an impact with the big league team but, for now, fans will likely be treated to the same familiar faces they have seen on the field before.
Fans will not only be greeted by familiar faces on the field, however, as the Indians recently announced that a few other well-known Tribe names will continue to grace the organization into the upcoming season.
The names are not as modern as the current Tribe roster, but are nonetheless just as familiar and are possibly even more household than some of the players fans will watch play this season.
The Indians announced on Tuesday that John McDonald, Charles Nagy, and Travis Hafner will join the organization as special assistants in the baseball operations division, assisting the playing development and scouting departments.
All three men played for the Tribe during their careers and left lasting impressions on the organization, evidenced not just by their return to the organization, but by the accolades they received while with the team.
McDonald played for the team most recently, and retired from playing the game after his 16th season in the majors in 2014. He was drafted by the Indians in 1996 and played for the team from 1999 to 2004, and again in 2013. McDonald was never known for his prowess at the plate, ending his professional career with a .596 OPS and 28 home runs over his 16 years as a defensive specialist with the Indians, Angels, Blue Jays, and Diamondbacks.
Nagy was chosen by the Indians as the 17th pick in the first round of the 1988 draft. A member of the Indians pitching staff during their glory days in the 1990s, he was an All-Star with the Tribe in 1992, 1996, and 1999, and was in contention for the Cy Young Award in 1992, 1995, and 1996. Nagy ended his 13 year tenure with the Tribe in 2002 with a 129-103 record and overall 4.51 ERA. He pitched 31 complete games and six shutout during that time. Nagy ended his baseball playing career after his 2003 season with the San Diego Padres and is stepping into the special assistant role after having been the Columbus Clippers’ pitching coach in 2010, the Diamondbacks pitching coach for three years, and having spent the 2014 season with the Indians as a spring training instructor and assistant.
Hafner is the most recent Tribe alumnus, having played for the team from 2003 to 2012. Though his later years with the Indians were plagued by injury and decreases of power (which fueled whispers of alleged steroid use in earlier campaigns), Hafner’s early seasons with the Indians were marked by home runs and power hitting. The left-handed hitter homered 200 times with the Tribe and boasts an .890 OPS turning his time with the team. After playing for the Yankees in 2013, Hafner retired from the game and went on to become the assistant coach for Notre Dame College’s baseball team in Cleveland. It’s been talked about that the Indians would be Hafner back in some capacity and, though Pronkville is now gone, Pronk himself has now returned to the organization.
All three former Tribe players will be in Goodyear this spring to join the team and rekindle their Cleveland connections.
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