Everybody knows what type of power Reyes has when he barrels a ball. Since he was acquired by the Tribe at the 2019 Trade Deadline, all eyes have been on him to see if he could launch a homer off the left-field scoreboard at Progressive Field. Although it hasn’t happened in Cleveland, Reyes achieved the feat in Goodyear.
In the fourth inning, Reyes smacked a 1-1 pitch from Arizona right-hander Taylor Widener, with the ball clipping the bottom of the scoreboard in deep left field. The slugger stopped and watched the ball for a moment in the batter’s box before making his first trip around the bases this spring.
“Finally,” Reyes said, with an ear-to-ear grin. “Got the scoreboard, but not the one in Cleveland.”
The Indians need Reyes’ bat to be strong this year like it was last August. He was red-hot during Spring Training last year, which left the Tribe wondering what kind of impact he could have made if the 2020 season had started on time. But Reyes went home for more than three months without seeing live pitching, which threw off his timing at the plate when he arrived at Summer Camp. Now, he’s slowly starting to feel himself get back into a groove.
“Honestly, I haven’t stopped working on [timing],” Reyes said. “I started feeling good. I’m seeing my pitches well, which is really important. But it will take just a little bit more time to get to 100 percent. But now, I feel great.”
The only concern about Reyes entering camp this year was his right ankle, which he sprained a few weeks before Spring Training got underway, and he said it was painful the first time he tried to take batting practice. The Indians planned to limit his outfield reps to make sure the ankle fully healed. Now, Reyes said it’s feeling much better.
“I’m in a really great spot,” Reyes said. “If you see the at-bat before that [homer], I had like five aggressive swings. Thank God. Thank the trainers for a good job.”
Reyes would love to see more time in the outfield -- especially in right -- but he’s said multiple times that he’s looking forward to filling any role the club needs, which will probably be at designated hitter for the foreseeable future. And the 25-year-old said he’s not setting any other goals for the 2021 season.
“Honestly, every year I say I’ll take whatever God gives me,” Reyes said. “Whatever happens is going to happen. If I could control where the ball is going to land, probably a 1.000 average, right? I can control being ready for every at-bat and trying to hit the ball on the barrel every time. Wherever it lands, I know it’s going to be doing a lot of damage. Watch out with your gloves, guys.”
Plesac takes away positives
Zach Plesac gave up three runs on four hits with two strikeouts in two innings in his first spring outing. Despite running deeper into counts and having to work in the zone more than he would have preferred, the right-hander was pleased with the positives from his start, which included his fastball velocity sitting at 94-95 mph.
“I didn't want to go in there and walk anyone,” Plesac said. “I wanted to just attack, let my pitches work. Threw a couple good curveballs, good sliders there, changeup felt pretty good, too. Started to tick up in velocity, so that's good to see. Hopefully, it continues to keep ticking up in each pitch and getting better and sharper.”
James Karinchak had a strong first spring outing on Sunday, giving up one hit and striking out one in a scoreless frame against the Reds. But the right-hander's second Cactus League appearance wasn’t as strong.
Karinchak threw nine straight balls to open the third inning, walking two batters. Three stolen bases and an error later, the D-backs scored an unearned run. Karinchak notched a pair of strikeouts to help escape further damage.
“He got so caught up [in nine straight balls] that he didn’t control the running game,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “That’s not a good combination to keep them off the scoreboard. … Again, sometimes when those things happen, you’d certainly rather them happen now, because if one’s going wrong, you can’t exacerbate it by not paying attention to the runners.”