Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

Did The Tribe Win Last Night? | July 31, 2021

Scroll to top

Top

One Comment

Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 4

Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 4

| On 20, Jul 2020

We are officially less than one week away from the return of Major League Baseball in Cleveland, as the Indians are set to host the Kansas City Royals in game one of 60 in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season on July 24. Follow along as Did The Tribe Win Last Night counts down the days to Opening Day. – BT

Countdown to Opening Day – 4 days

Will this be the year that the Indians’ number four, Bradley Zimmer, remains healthy and an active part of the Major League roster?

The 27-year-old outfielder has lost the better portion of the last two years to a steady stream of injuries, surgery, and rehabilitation time, leaving him to be a part of just nine games of the Indians’ 2019 season. With the outfield picture very much up in the air for much of that season, Zimmer missed a perfect opportunity to plant his name in the grass as part of the team’s future in the garden.

Contributors have come and gone over the last few years and little is certain still in the outfield for the Indians. Oscar Mercado has seemingly swooped in and stolen the center field spot from Zimmer over the course of last season, and other playing time in the corner outfield positions and designated hitter could go to Tyler Naquin, Franmil Reyes, and Jordan Luplow. Jake Bauers is a player that the team is just waiting to break out at a consistent level, and the team also brought in Delino DeShields and Domingo Santana in the offseason. Greg Allen returns as a versatile option capable of playing all three spots and providing some speed off of the bench, while prospect Daniel Johnson has made an impression this spring and summer and looks to be very much a part of the team’s future at the position.

The pressure is on Zimmer to stay healthy and to fix a swing that has left him far too often off of the base paths and walking back to the dugout in disgust.

Zimmer was the Indians’ first round pick in 2014. Paired with 2013 first rounder Clint Frazier throughout his climb through the farm system, Zimmer was retained and Frazier was dealt in 2016 when the Indians acquired All-Star reliever Andrew Miller from the New York Yankees. While Frazier has similarly struggled to stick in the Majors in the Bronx for different reasons (appearing in 123 games over the last three years), Zimmer has been unable to carve out a groove of his own in Cleveland.

He made his big league debut in 2017, bringing with him an aggressive nature on the base paths and an ability to make up for some bad routes with his gazelle speed in the pasture. He played in 101 games, all in center when not limited to just pinch-hitting or pinch-running, while slashing .241/.307/.385. He showed a little pop, hitting eight homers, and added in 15 doubles along the way, but the strikeouts that plagued him throughout his time in the minors remained a big part of his game as he went down 99 times in 332 plate appearances, or nearly 30% of the time. When he got on base, he was an immediate threat to take another – he swiped 18 bases in 19 attempts. His season ended prematurely in September when he broke his left hand diving into first base.

Zimmer - Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Zimmer – Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Zimmer was back in the center field portion of the outfield in 2018, but he struggled mightily at the plate, striking out more often than he reached base. On May 5, a collision with the outfield wall at Yankee Stadium took him out of the lineup and eventually landed him on the disabled list with a left rib contusion and shoulder soreness. He returned to the lineup at the beginning of June, but with five strikeouts in eight plate appearances over two games, he was optioned to Columbus. Back in the minors, he injured his shoulder taking batting practice and later had arthroscopic surgery to correct the issue.

He opened 2019 on the injured list while still working his way back to form, but side soreness slowed down the process during spring training. That injury kept him out of official action until the second week of August, when he made played in his first game in over a year in the Arizona League. He completed his rehab assignment at the end of the month and was promoted to the Majors in mid-September after the Clippers’ stint in the Governors’ Cup concluded. His first seven games were limited to just a handful of innings and opportunities, generally entering in the final couple of innings as a pinch-runner, pinch-hitter, or defensive replacement. He made his first start on the penultimate game of the season against Washington, going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. He started the season finale against the Nationals the next day and went 0-for-3 in four trips with a walk and two strikeouts, ending the big league portion of his 2019 with an 0-for-13 mark at the plate with seven strikeouts and one walk.

Zimmer had high expectations placed on him to become one of the outfielders of the future for the Indians organization, but so far, those hopes have been dashed as the burner on the bases and in the field has been unable to remain healthy and productive enough to make legitimate contributions.

The Indians had hoped that Zimmer would play in a winter league this offseason to get in the reps that he missed over the course of the season, but he instead opted to take the time to rest up his body to push for a roster spot in the spring. After hitting .200 in nine Cactus League games with ten strikeouts in 26 plate appearances, Zimmer was optioned to minor league camp and was set to report to Columbus to open the year to get consistent at bats, but with the shutdown of play across the two spring training states two weeks before the regular season was set to start, Zimmer did not have to pack his bags for Columbus.

Now in Cleveland working in the team’s Summer Camp/Spring Training 2.0, Zimmer has impressed with some big flies at the plate and has been one of the more talked about individuals as players build up for the 60-game slate that is coming. He has made some adjustments to his swing, looking to close the gaping hole that pitchers have been able to exploit during each of the last three seasons. With an expanded roster of 30 to start the season and a better effort shown during the intrasquad games at Progressive Field this month, Zimmer may have a shot of breaking camp with the club, but even if he does so, he remains at risk of falling off of that roster onto the Taxi Squad or over to the Club Player Pool grouping at the team’s alternate training site in Lake County if he is not producing when roster reductions hit (after the 15th and 29th days of the regular season).

*** ** * ** ***

The number four has typically found its way onto the backs of veteran players on the Indians roster, including both Juan Uribe and Coco Crisp in 2016 and Mike Aviles for each of the three seasons before them, but it has rarely been used in recent years by a player making significant impacts on the outcomes of games on a nightly basis.

Despite being a low number and typically a digit that most would assume would be in more frequent use, the number four has gone through some droughts in Cleveland history. The number was in heavy rotation from the first moment it appeared on the diamond in 1929 all the way through 1962 before disappearing for more than ten years. It returned for four years, but again was off the market for seven more years from 1977 to 1983. Its brief comeback was short, as after appearances in two seasons at Jacobs Field in 1995 and 1996, it vanished for another dozen years before Niuman Romero (ten games) and Tony Graffanino (seven games) briefly brought it out of pseudo-retirement in 2009.

While many have suited up in the four for Cleveland, few did so with the level of success that Joe Gordon did during his stint in the city beginning in 1947.

Gordon - ootpdevelopments.com

Gordon – ootpdevelopments.com

Acquired in the days following the completion of the 1946 season from the New York Yankees for pitcher Allie Reynolds, Gordon joined the club after spending his first seven seasons in pinstripes, wrapped around his World War II military commitments. He was an All-Star in each of his last six seasons when relocating to the shores of Lake Erie, but was coming off of a career-worst .210 season with eleven homers, 15 doubles, and 47 RBI in a season decimated by injuries that started with hand surgery during spring training and later included a pair of torn leg muscles and a fractured thumb during the season.

With Gordon in his first season out of Gotham, he gave the Indians plenty to like. He brought five World Series trips’ worth of experience to the club (and four world championships to his credit), something unfamiliar to most members of the squad. At 32 and once again healthy, he was plenty productive at the plate for the Tribe, hitting .272 with 27 doubles, six triples, 29 homers, and 93 RBI over 155 games while making yet another trip to the Midsummer Classic.

The next year, Gordon put up some career numbers as the Indians shocked the American League and the world by taking the pennant and the title. Gordon’s contribution was easy to see – in 144 games, he hit .280 with a .371 on-base percentage with 21 doubles, four triples, and new career-highs (and team highs) in homers (32) and RBI (124). He was an All-Star for the eighth straight season and a world’s champion for the fifth time in six trips to the Fall Classic.

While the Indians were unable to adequately defend their title the following season, Gordon still found his way into the lineup regularly for the club, hitting .251 with a .355 OBP with 18 doubles, three triples, 20 homers, and 84 RBI over 148 games. He was an All-Star for the ninth straight campaign and the final time in his career.

He suited up for one more season in 1950, appearing in 119 games while hitting .236 with 12 doubles, a triple, 19 homers, and 57 RBI. He was released after the season by the club and played in the minors for a couple of years before beginning his baseball life away from playing. He returned to Cleveland at the other end of the decade, serving the team as its manager from 1958 to 1960 before a bizarre trade with Detroit, when general manager Frank Lane opted to swap his manager for Tigers skipper Jimmy Dykes.

The 1942 AL MVP Gordon later managed with the Kansas City Athletics and the expansion Kansas City Royals before his career in baseball ended. His baseball jersey was hung up for good in 1978 when he died after suffering a heart attack.

He was named one of the top 100 players in Indians history in 2001 and was elected into the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame in 2008. At the end of that year, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee as part of the class of 2009.

Other notable 4s in Tribe history (38 in total): Joe Sewell (the first in 1929), Lew Fonseca (1930), Johnny Hodapp (1931-32), Bill Knickerbocker (1934-36), Odell Hale (1937-40), Jim Hegan (1951-57), Tony Bernazard (1984-87), Joel Skinner (1990-91).

Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images

*** ** * ** ***

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)
Indians’ 2020 Opening Day Countdown Take Two – 17 (Brad Miller, others)
Indians’ 2020 Opening Day Countdown Take Two – 16 (Mike Sarbaugh, others)
Indians’ 2020 Opening Day Countdown Take Two – 15 (Sandy Alomar, Jr.)
Indians’ 2020 Opening Day Countdown Take Two – 14 (Larry Doby)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 13 (Hanley Ramirez, Omar Vizquel)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 12 (Francisco Lindor, Roberto Alomar)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 11 (Jose Ramirez)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 10 (Jake Bauers)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 9 (Carlos Baerga)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 8 (Jordan Luplow)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 7 (Eric Stamets, Ryan Flaherty, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 6 (Mike Freeman)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 5 (Lou Boudreau)

Comments

  1. I am from Detroit and I would love to see Lou Whitaker in the H of F. Another 2nd sacked who should be in the Hall is Joe Gordon. Read the article.

Submit a Comment