Cleveland Connections in the 2017 World Series

This is the type of story that should not have been written, as had all gone according to plan, the Cleveland Indians would be back-to-back winners of the American League pennant and would be facing off with the Los Angeles Dodgers in a rematch of the Tribe’s 1920 World Series win over the Brooklyn Robins.

Instead, the Indians are plugging holes on their coaching staff and taking in the Fall Classic in a much more stress-free, but disappointing, fashion from the comforts of wherever they watch the games…if they can watch them at all.

If you are one of those Tribe fans who can stomach watching the World Series this season, there are a handful of representatives on both the Houston Astros and the Dodgers who have ties to the Indians organization.

From a player perspective, just one of the 50 players between the two teams has spent time in a Cleveland uniform during his career. Left-handed starting pitcher Rich Hill, who worked in 63 games in relief for the Indians in 2013 before reviving his career in the minor leagues with the Boston Red Sox two seasons later, is slated to start Game 2. He will face off with a face familiar enough to Indians fans – Justin Verlander, who won all five of his starts with Houston after being acquired in August from Detroit while posting a 1.06 ERA and a 0.65 WHIP in 34 innings of work. It will be his fifth appearance of this postseason and his fourth start; he is 4-0 with a 1.46 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP combined in the playoffs this season while proving to be the missing piece that the Astros needed this year.

The Dodgers have two other players on their 40-man roster with ties to the Indians, including left-hander Scott Kazmir and outfielder Franklin Gutierrez.

Kazmir missed the entire 2017 season with a strained left hip. He attempted to return on a rehab assignment in late June and, after three outings, was shut back down until September. He appeared in just four games in the minors in his second season with the Dodgers after signing with Los Angeles following two and a half months with Houston in 2015. Kazmir pitched one season for Cleveland in 2013, going 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA in 29 starts after missing nearly all of the previous two seasons.

Gutierrez appeared in 35 games in his first season with the Dodgers after spending the previous seven years in Seattle with the Mariners. He hit .232 with a homer and eight RBI during action that was limited by an early season left hamstring strain that cost him three weeks and anklyosis spondylitis that ended his season during the final week of June. Gutierrez spent his first four big league seasons with the Indians from 2005 to 2008.

Tony Sipp is not in the Houston bullpen for the series. He appeared in 46 games in 2017, matching the lowest single-season workload of his career while posting an 0-1 record with a 5.79 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP in 37 1/3 innings on the mound. He spent his first four seasons with the Indians and each of the last four with the Astros, with a single season in Arizona with the Diamondbacks in between in 2013.

The Dodgers coaching and front office support staff has some Cleveland flavor to it, led at the top by manager Dave Roberts. The former big league outfielder of ten seasons (Indians, Dodgers, Red Sox, Padres, and Giants) is in his second year at the helm of the Dodgers and has won a pair of NL West titles in his tenure as well as the NL Manager of the Year Award last season. He is no stranger to playoff dramatics, as his stolen base in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the ALCS led to the Red Sox tying the game and avoiding elimination. Those Sox, led by Terry Francona, would overcome a 3-0 deficit in the series and would win the ALCS against the New York Yankees and, later, the World Series.

Roberts’ hitting coach in LA is Turner Ward. He spent parts of the 1990 and 1991 seasons with the Indians after being acquired with Joel Skinner from the Yankees for outfielder Mel Hall. He would be traded to Toronto with Tom Candiotti for Denis Boucher, Glenallen Hill, and Mark Whiten in 1991 and would play for 12 seasons in total, including stops with Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Arizona, and Philadelphia.

The bullpen coach on the Dodgers staff is Josh Bard, the former switch-hitting catcher for the Indians from 2002 to 2005. He was acquired by the Indians with Jody Gerut from the Colorado Rockies in 2001 for Jacob Cruz and was traded away in January of 2006 in a seven-player trade with Boston that involved Coco Crisp and Andy Marte. He went to camp with the Dodgers in a last attempt to keep his career alive in 2012, but spent the season at Triple-A. He joined the team’s front office the following season and is in his second year of work as the bullpen coach.

Pat Corrales, former Indians manager (1983-87) works in the Dodgers’ front office as a Special Assistant to the General Manager. Dodgers Vice President of Baseball Operations Josh Byrnes started his baseball career in the Indians front office in 1994, working his way up to the position of scouting director before he was hired by another former Cleveland front office man, Dan O’Dowd, to serve as assistant general manager of the Colorado Rockies.

On the Houston side of the field, bench coach Alex Cora played half of the 2005 season with the Indians after spending his first seven big league seasons with the Dodgers. He was traded in July of that season to Boston and was hired Sunday by the Red Sox as their new manager. He will begin the next step of his career with the Sox following the completion of his obligation to the Astros in the World Series.

Hitting coach David Hudgens spent a portion of his playing and coaching careers with the Indians. He was a minor league first baseman and outfielder for the Tribe in 1979 and 1980 before spending four years in the Oakland A’s organization. After working for ten years on Oakland’s staff, he returned to the Indians and worked as the field coordinator from 2006 to 2010.

Brent Strom took over the pitching coach duties for the Astros following the 2013 season. His five-year big league career took him to Cleveland in 1973, when he was 2-10 in 27 games for the Tribe. He was traded to San Diego midway through the next season.

Astros first base coach and infield instructor Rich Dauer spent ten seasons in the Majors with the Orioles. His MLB coaching career began in Cleveland on an Indians team with strong Baltimore ties as he joined the organization in 1988 and was the team’s third base coach in 1990 and 1991. He was also a second overall pick in the first round of the 1972 MLB June Draft’s Secondary Phase by the Indians, but he did not sign.

Game 1 of the World Series is scheduled for an 8:00 PM ET first pitch on Tuesday night from a boiling hot Dodger Stadium. All games will be televised on Fox.

Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

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