Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

Did The Tribe Win Last Night? | September 18, 2021

Scroll to top

Top

No Comments

Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 2

Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 2

| On 22, Jul 2020

One day away from the start of the 2020 Major League Baseball season and two days away from the Cleveland Indians’ home opener against the Kansas City Royals, we at Did The Tribe Win Last Night continue our countdown until the long awaited first pitch of the pandemic-shortened campaign. – BT

Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 2

For the first time since early in the 2012 season, the number two returned to the diamond for the Indians on the back of a player.

Outfielder Leonys Martin moved from the unlucky 13 into the 2 during spring training, with Hanley Ramirez taking up the former. Martin had previously worn the number two in three seasons with the Texas Rangers from 2013 to 2015 and had only once ever had a number in the big leagues that did not include a two in it (when he wore 13 for the Indians in 2018).

Martin was acquired by the Indians at the trade deadline in 2018 and started off strong, getting five hits (two homers) in six games before he began a battle for his life as an infection landed him in the hospital while bacteria created toxins that damaged internal organs.

With a new lease on life in 2019, Martin opened the season as the Indians’ starting center fielder. He made up for a slow start to the season by recording three hits in three different games from April 11 to April 16, injecting 100 points into his season batting average. He homered in back-to-back games late in the month before falling into a slump that erased much of the positive turn in his numbers.

After hitting .221 in April, he posted a .218 average in a lackluster May while striking out 25 times in 92 plate appearances. Those woes continued into June, as he posted a .125/.192/.333 slash in 15 games with 17 strikeouts in 52 plate appearances before the Indians designated him for assignment and released him on June 27. The 31-year-old later signed on to play overseas with the Chiba Lotte Marines.

The next day, Yu Chang got the call-up from the minors and made his big league debut while Jose Ramirez was on paternity leave. The 23-year-old, who was added to the 40-man roster following the 2017 season, had only a small sample of games under his belt at Triple-A Columbus after spending the majority of the minor league campaign on the 7-day injured list with a left finger sprain, but Chang still got the chance. He went 0-for-4 in two games with two strikeouts before being optioned back to the minors.

Chang returned in the final week of August, once again getting an opportunity due to Ramirez missing time (this time with a broken hamate bone in his hand). Chang’s first game back was productive, as he got his first two big league hits, including a triple, while also drawing a walk in the Indians’ 9-8 loss to the Kansas City Royals. He saw consistent playing time at the hot corner over the course of the rest of the season, working a handful of innings at shortstop in the final week of the year.

In 28 total games, Chang posted a .178/.286/.274 slash with two doubles, one triple, one homer, and six RBI. During his time at Columbus, he slashed .253/.322/.427 in 68 games with 15 doubles, one triple, nine homers, and 39 RBI.

Chang has expanded his versatility over the last few seasons to improve his chances of aiding the Indians’ parent roster at some point down the road. With Ramirez and Francisco Lindor blocking him on the left side of the infield over the last couple of years, Chang added second base to his resume in 2018 in his first of two seasons with the Clippers.

The utility man hit .250 in 13 games during Cactus League play this spring, but he has received plenty of attention during Summer Camp as he has gone on a home run tear during intrasquad action. He remains a candidate for one of the 30 spots on the roster to start the season on Friday, but he is in a tough situation as a player with minor league options remaining. Christian Arroyo, one of the others fighting for a spot, does not have options remaining and has hit well, while the veteran Mike Freeman (with an option remaining) is not on the 40-man roster, but did all that he could have been asked to do a season ago by Terry Francona when he was called up from Columbus. Extra spots could also go to the slew of outfield options or to additional bullpen depth.

*** ** * ** ***

Few in life are comfortable with a second place finish and in Indians history, few have made a lengthy stay as the number two man on the field for the club.

A number once in heavy rotation through the early 1960s, it disappeared for over 20 years over parts of the next three decades, reappearing in the mid-1980s. Twenty-three players donned it on the field in the first 33 years numbers were used by the organization, but just 15 have taken ownership of it over the last 35 years.

The last to wear it in Tribe history before Martin and Chang last season was Aaron Cunningham, whose stay in town was short lived and rather unceremonious. An outfielder with the ability to play all three spots but with little to show with the stick at the plate, Cunningham came to town in December of 2011 from San Diego for pitcher Cory Burns.

Cunningham – Jason Miller/Getty Images

He was essentially a bench piece for the club, making just seven, six, and eight starts respectively across the three outfield spots, yet appeared in 72 games for the Tribe while working frequently as a late inning replacement. The emphasis on his contributions coming on the defensive side of the game were clear as he hit just .175 in his stay with four doubles, a homer, and seven RBI. In his final game for the club on July 24 against Detroit, he left his mark with a suicide squeeze in the seventh inning to put the Indians on top for good, 3-2. The next day, he was designated for assignment when the club acquired Brent Lillibridge from the Boston Red Sox. The squeeze would be his last Major League at bat, as Cunningham toiled in the minors for the Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks over the course of the next three years before his career came to an end at the close of the 2014 season.

Infielder Jhonny Peralta and catcher Einar Diaz spent the most seasons in the number for the Tribe.

After seasons seeing Zach Sorensen and Sandy Martinez wear the two on the field, Peralta moved into his third different number in three seasons when he took it for the 2005 season. After sporting 60 and 16, the move to number two was timed perfectly with his emergence as an everyday player for the club. He burst onto the scene in 2005 (after appearing in 85 games over the previous two seasons) and hit .292 with 35 doubles, 24 homers, and 78 RBI. He would never again in his career reach that home run height, but he became a consistent part of the Tribe lineup over the next half decade.

He showed up big for the club in his first postseason action in 2007. He hit .467 against the New York Yankees in the American League Division Series with three doubles and two runs batted in, then hit .259 in the American League Championship Series against Boston with two doubles, two homers, and eight RBI as the Indians fell just short of the World Series.

Peralta remained with the club until the trade deadline in 2010, when he was sent with cash to Detroit for pitching prospect Giovanni Soto. He made three All-Star teams afterwards, including starting nods in the 2011 and 2013 games. His career came to a close midseason in 2017.

Diaz started his seven-year run in the number in 1996, coming up for four games in September that season. He saw just five games of work for the Indians in 1997 and 17 in 1998 before taking the brunt of the load in 1999 when he appeared in 119 games behind the plate for Cleveland. He hit .281 that season, a number that would remain a full season best for the backstop out of Panama.

He continued similar production over the next couple of years, delivering a career-best 34 doubles and 56 RBI. That production fell off the next season, as his 2002 campaign of 102 games included a .206 average, 19 doubles, two homers, and 16 RBI.

Butler – 1988 Topps

That offseason, he was packaged with pitcher Ryan Drese and sent to the Texas Rangers in one of the more lopsided trades in club history. The Indians acquired pitcher Aaron Myette and an offensive weapon for years to come in Travis Hafner.

Brett Butler brought the number out of its long retirement in 1984. After spending his first three big league seasons with the Atlanta Braves and leading all of baseball in triples with 13 in 1983, he was traded with Brook Jacoby and cash to Cleveland for pitcher Len Barker.

Butler worked as the team’s every day center fielder over the next four years, stealing 30 or more bases in every season, despite some high caught stealing numbers in his new league. He set a personal best with 52 bags swiped in his first season in Cleveland in 1984. He hit a career-high .311 in 1985 with 14 triples, and matched that three-bagger production the following season when he led the game again.

He hit the free agent market following the Indians’ disappointing 1987 season and moved out west, signing with the San Francisco Giants. He spent three years there before moving down the coast to the rival Los Angeles Dodgers organization, making his first and only All-Star team in 1991. He signed with the New York Mets prior to the 1995 season, but was traded back to the Dodgers that August, remaining with the club until calling it a career at the age of 40 in 1997.

Last year, one of the players to wear the number two in Tribe history passed away. Randy Jackson, a third baseman with the club for 32 games in 1958 and 1959, died at the age of 93. He was the 28th-oldest living player at the time of his death on March 20 (and the oldest living Dodger).

Jackson was a two-time All-Star and in the twilight of his career by the time he swung through Cleveland. “Handsome Ransom”, who was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers (the year after they moved from Brooklyn), was picked up in August in a cash swap and by the following May was on the move again when he was dealt by the Indians to the Chicago Cubs for Bob Smith. That season was the last for both, as “Riverboat” Smith pitched the final 12 of his 30 career big league games with the Tribe before spending a few years back in the minors.

Jackson was often remembered by longtime Brooklyn fans for hitting the last home run by a Dodger before the club’s move across the country. He played alongside a slew of Hall of Famers in his career, including Chicago’s Ernie Banks, Cleveland’s Larry Doby and Bob Lemon, and Dodger greats Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, Pee Wee Reese, and Duke Snider.

Other notable 2’s in Tribe history (38 total): Carl Lind (the first in 1929), Joe Sewell (1930), Dick Porter (1931-34), Ben Chapman (1939), Ray Mack (1946), Johnny Berardino (1948-52), George Strickland (1952-56), Ken Aspromonte (1960-62), Alex Cole (1990-92), Jeff Kent (1996), Luis Valbuena (2011).

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)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 4 (Bradley Zimmer)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 3 (Earl Averill)

Submit a Comment