Notes: Lindor could see less time at leadoff

Franmil puts on show at batting practice with five homers on six swings

February 17th, 2020

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Over the last two seasons, Indians shortstop has been penciled in at the top of the batting order in all but six of his starts. But now, the Tribe may be considering making some changes.

Across his five-year career, Lindor has hit leadoff in 364 games and hit second and third in the order a combined 342 games. And though Lindor leading off has been more successful than not in recent years, Cleveland thinks the benefit may not be as great in 2020.

“You know what? I love Frankie leading off,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “I know Frankie loves leading off. I also know Frankie will do whatever we ask him to do. At some point, and it’s not urgent now, I’ll sit down with him as our team starts to look like it’s coming together. Sit down with a few guys and figure out where they have a comfort level and where I think they’re most productive and also where they think they’re most productive.”

It’s only the first day of full-squad workouts, but Lindor may be having the same early feelings as his manager.

“I don’t know,” Lindor said when asked if he wants to remain the team’s leadoff hitter. “I guess I have to sit down and go over the lineup. I think not leading off might benefit the team a little bit more. It seems like we have more speed this year from the guys that I’ve seen in the clubhouse.”

A lot of that speed comes from outfielders and , both of whom rank in the 97th percentile in sprint speed, according to Statcast. Mercado hit second for the majority of the 2019 season, but the Indians believe plugging someone into the leadoff spot like newly acquired DeShields could add some depth to the lineup by shifting Lindor down.

“I haven’t really sat down and gone through where I would put who in what order,” Lindor said. “But I think with the speed we have this year and having fewer guys who strike out, I don’t know if leading off would benefit the team. We’ll see. Maybe I’ll hit second, third, fourth, eighth, ninth.”

Reyes’ BP show

Players hit long bombs in batting practice all the time during the regular season, but ’ swing looked like it was already in midseason form Monday afternoon, launching home run after home run in his quick rounds of cage work.

“I don’t know if you saw BP today, but he nearly knocked the fence down,” Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said. “I think he hit a ball to Peoria.”

Lindor had stepped into the cage a few minutes earlier, as Reyes, a preferred right fielder, went to left for the first time this spring. When any ball was hit to Reyes, Lindor would laugh and joke, yelling at him in Spanish about him being outside of his comfort zone. But Reyes was able to chirp right back after his impressive offensive showing, as the two laughed and playfully argued at the end of batting practice.

“We’re just having fun,” Lindor said with a grin. “Just by [Reyes’] presence in the lineup it’s gonna help some of the guys get more fastballs. And he’s in better shape this year, his swing looks really good, so it shows he worked in the offseason.”