Lively ready for any role on Guardians' staff

February 29th, 2024

TEMPE, Ariz. -- 's offseason, typically reserved for hunting and fishing, took a sudden turn when he learned that the Guardians were interested in signing him.

Lively was drafted out of high school by Cleveland in 2010 in the 26th round but didn’t sign. However, the organization's reputation for developing pitching talents like Corey Kluber and Shane Bieber left a lasting impression. Lively saw in Cleveland the perfect environment to reinvent himself.

“They’re a very smart staff, and everyone documents small details,” Lively said. “It helps everyone relax and figure out how to feel those details and each bullpen session and stuff like that. And it's been pretty cool.”

Lively has been a starter for much of his career but has always preached the thought of contributing to his team in any role. That’ll be key for him to make the Opening Day roster. Given the Guardians' returning starting rotation from last season, his path to securing a starting spot is narrow, barring unforeseen injuries.

But a new opportunity has presented itself to the 31-year-old. With relief pitcher Trevor Stephan sidelined for up to three weeks, the Guardians have three bullpen slots open if they carry eight relievers to begin the season. Players with established track records with the Guardians like Xzavion Curry and Carlos Carrasco are frontrunners for the vacancies, but Lively’s experience puts him in that conversation too.

He’s already gotten praise from first-year manager Stephen Vogt.

“His track record speaks for itself,” Vogt said. “He's also been through a lot. Being willing to go overseas and going through that adjustment isn't easy. And for him to come back and on the better end, and he's looked good so far this camp.”

Lively bounced around three different MLB organizations between 2013-19 before taking a gamble by heading overseas to the Samsung Lions of the KBO. He pitched as a starter and amassed a 4.14 ERA in 36 starts between 2019-21 before his stint was cut short after suffering an elbow injury.

He signed with the Reds in 2022 and spent a year-and-a-half with Triple-A Louisville before returning to the Majors in May ‘23 as a starter. In the last month of the season, he pitched out of the bullpen primarily as a long reliever, allowing nine runs in 12 innings. The numbers weren’t ideal, but it taught Lively the importance of balancing his workload on a day-to-day basis.

“Just starting to save as many pitches as you can in the bullpen,” Lively said. “You have to be ready right out of the get-go. So you just separate the intensity level, rather than easing your way through the long game.”

Vogt said he is approaching Lively’s workload as that of a starter. He wants to stretch him out throughout the spring and build his pitch count. However, the ultimate goal with Lively is for him to have “as much versatility as possible so that we have options with him.”

Cleveland’s new skipper isn’t just impressed with Lively’s contributions on the mound, praising Lively's positive influence in the clubhouse.

“I think he's got an opportunity to impact our big league team, and he's a great guy to be around,” Vogt said. “He's very funny, outspoken, confident, and that's somebody that's infectious to be around.”

Lively's journey with the Guardians symbolizes not just a personal comeback but a strong addition to the club as they navigate a new era of baseball in Cleveland.

“I'm going to attack everybody,” Lively said. “I'm going to go over the plate. I'm going to crush people off the plate and I'm just going to give everything I have for a zero.”

Williams makes Spring Training debut
worked two scoreless innings, allowing no hits and striking out four -- including Mike Trout -- in his first Cactus League start during the Guardians' 4-1 loss to the Angels on Thursday at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Williams debuted a new delivery where he focused on elevating his back approach more to increase his velocity.

“I want to keep doing the same thing,” Williams said. “Throwing offspeed a little bit more on all counts. Just get comfortable with that so I can keep it going throughout the whole year.”