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Did The Tribe Win Last Night? | July 5, 2020

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Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 16

Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 16

| On 10, Mar 2020

Baseball takes little time off in between seasons, so neither can we. Follow along at Did the Tribe Win Last Night as we count down to March 26, when the Cleveland Indians host the Detroit Tigers for game one of the 2020 season. – BT

Countdown to Opening Day – 16 days

This spring, Indians third base coach Mike Sarbaugh began his eighth season working as part of manager Terry Francona’s coaching staff while representing the number 16 for the club. It kicked off his 31st season of work as a member of the organization, where he has served as a player, a coach, or a manager.

The professional playing career of the former utility man was brief and limited to the minors. He played in the Milwaukee Brewers organization in 1989 before spending the next five years in the Indians farm system, reaching the Triple-A level in four games at Charlotte during his 1994 season. He also saw time on the big screen in the movie Major League II and was preparing to be a replacement player for the Indians in 1995 before the strike ended. He transitioned into coaching afterwards and was successful as a minor league manager in the Indians farm system before joining Francona’s staff following the 2012 season.

Bell 1989 Topps

Bell – 1989 Topps

It has been nearly 20 years since the one-six has made its way onto the diamond consistently on the back of one player. The likes of Jason Donald, Matt LaPorta, Shin-Soo Choo, Juan Gonzalez, Jhonny Peralta, Ed Taubensee, Jeff Manto, Dwight Gooden, and Billy Ripken have all spent a small portion of their Major League careers in the number for the Tribe, using it for anywhere from one to three years at most.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, a pair of players who would be traded for one another each spent time in the number while manning the shortstop position for the club.

Jay Bell, a first round draft pick (eighth overall) by the Minnesota Twins in 1984, came to Cleveland on August 1, 1985, when the Indians acquired four players for pitcher Bert Blyleven. Bell was one of the bigger names coming to Cleveland and he made his debut the following year in five games at the age of 20, hitting .357 in his cup of coffee with the club.

He rejoined the Indians for 38 games in 1987, playing shortstop but struggling at the plate with a .216 average. He played nearly half the season with the club in 1988, but his issues at the plate persisted as he hit just .218 with a pair of homers and 21 RBI.

The team moved on from him in the days before the 1989 season, as he was sent to the Pittsburgh Pirates to complete an earlier trade. The Indians had received Denny Gonzalez in November from the club, and shortstop Felix Fermin later relocated to Cleveland to complete the swap when Bell changed leagues.

With three unsuccessful seasons under his belt in the American League with the Indians, Bell found his form in the National League, spending 14 of the next 15 seasons in the Senior Circuit with the Pirates, Arizona Diamondbacks, and the New York Mets (he also spent one season in Kansas City with the Royals). He was an All-Star, a Gold Glove winner, and a Silver Slugger recipient in 1993 and was an All-Star again in 1999 when he blasted a career-high 38 homers and drove in 112 runs as the infant Diamondbacks made the playoffs. He was a part of their championship team in 2001 in his final trip to the postseason.

Fermin - 1990 Donruss

Fermin – 1990 Donruss

Fermin had joined the Pirates as an amateur free agent in 1983 and debuted in 23 games for Pittsburgh in 1987, hitting .250. He hit .276 the following season with little pop and little speed and had to file for a change of address in late March of 1989.

He was immediately slotted in to heavy duty in the Indians lineup as the club’s regular shortstop, appearing in 156 games while hitting .238 with nine doubles, a triple, and 21 RBI over the course of the year. He did not walk a ton, but he did not strike out a lot either. His most notable contribution may have been his ability to lay down a bunt, as he led baseball that season with 32 sacrifices.

Fermin continued with similar numbers over the next few years, hitting no higher than .270 in any one season in town. He topped out at 16 doubles and two homers in 1993 and had two triples in each season from 1990 to 1993. He was the hardest player to strike out in the American League during that 1993 campaign, averaging 34.3 at bats per strikeout.

Defensively, he had his issues, leading the league in errors committed with 26 in 1989 and leading his position again in 1993 with 23.

Following that season, he was packaged with Reggie Jefferson and cash and sent to Seattle for a young, similarly light-hitting shortstop coming off of his first Gold Glove season with the Mariners, Omar Vizquel.

The fortunes of the Indians were changed forever.

Other notable 16s in Tribe history (46 players in total): Denny Galehouse (1937-38), Ed Klieman (1947-48), Hal Newhouser (1954-55), Al Smith (1955-57), Johnny Temple (1960-61), Larry Brown (1963-71), Alfredo Griffin (1976), Bo Diaz (1978-81), Tony Bernazard (1984)

Photo: Eric Espada/Getty Images

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Miss out on our other Countdown pieces? Check out more Indians history below!

Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 99 (Daniel Robertson)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 90 (Adam Cimber)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 88 (Phil Maton)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 77 (Jack Armstrong)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 76 (Tom Magrann)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 75 (Mike Walker)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 73 (Ricardo Rincon)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 72 (Jason Giambi)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 71 (Johnny Hodapp)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 70 (James Karinchak, George Kontos)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 69 (Luis Medina)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 68 (Jefry Rodriguez, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 67 (Aaron Civale, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 66 (Yasiel Puig, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 65 (Zach Plesac, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 64 (Tom Kramer, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 63 (Josh Smith, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 62 (Nick Wittgren, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 61 (Dan Otero, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 60 (Jhonny Peralta, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 59 (Carlos Carrasco)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 58 (Neil Ramirez, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 57 (Shane Bieber)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 56 (Cody Anderson)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 55 (Roberto Perez)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 54 (Hunter Wood)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 53 (Logan Allen)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 52 (Mike Clevinger)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 51 (numerous)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 50 (James Hoyt, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 49 (Tyler Olson, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 48 (Emmanuel Clase, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 47 (Trevor Bauer)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 46 (Jon Edwards, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 45 (Adam Plutko)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 44 (Nick Goody, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 43 (Josh Tomlin, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 42 (Mike Jackson, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 41 (Carlos Santana, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 40 (Bobby Bradley, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 39 (Oliver Perez, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 38 (Eric Haase, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 37 (Cody Allen, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 36 (Tyler Clippard, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 35 (Oscar Mercado, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 34 (A.J. Cole, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 33 (Brad Hand, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 32 (Franmil Reyes, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 31 (Danny Salazar, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 30 (Tyler Naquin, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 29 (Andre Thornton)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 28 (Corey Kluber)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 27 (Kevin Plawecki, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 26 (Max Moroff, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 25 (Jim Thome)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 24 (Carlos Gonzalez, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 23 (Michael Brantley, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 22 (Jason Kipnis)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 21 (Bob Lemon, Rocky Colavito, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 20 (Frank Robinson, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 19 (Bob Feller)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 18 (Mel Harder)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 17 (Brad Miller, Andrew Velazquez, others)

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