GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The offseason of trade rumors and position uncertainty are in the past. Jason Kipnis remains in an Indians uniform and, if his career track record means anything for the season ahead, the second baseman will use the past few months as fuel for his internal fire.
During Sunday's 2-2 tie with the Reds, Kipnis made his Cactus League debut and showed that there is still plenty left in his swing. He pulled a pitch from Cincinnati's David Hernandez deep to right field, where it carried over the wall at Goodyear Ballpark for a no-doubt home run in the third inning.
"You always like that," Kipnis said with a smile. "I've been putting in the work and I feel like the game's already starting to slow down for me, which I'm already happy about. But, no, you're never going to complain about a first-day home run."
Kipnis, who will turn 31 on April 3, hit .232 with 12 home runs, 25 doubles, 35 RBIs and a .705 OPS in 90 games last season, when right hamstring and right shoulder issues led to three stints on the disabled list. While Kipnis was sidelined in the second half, Jose Ramirez slid to second base from third and performed well at that spot. That led to questions about whether Ramirez would return to second this year.
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Indians manager Terry Francona has noted this spring that Ramirez will prepare for third and Kipnis will stay put at second, as opposed to being tested as an outfielder. Kipnis is scheduled to earn $13.7 million this year and is under contract for '19 with a team option for '20. Over the winter, Cleveland explored trading Kipnis, but nothing came to fruition.
Kipnis, who was drafted by the Indians in 2009, is glad to remain in the fold, and excited about what could be in store for the team this season.
"Very much so. Not just for me personally," Kipnis said. "I feel very confident in the team that we've had here for a while now. Any time you have this kind of roster, I'm excited going into every season."
Bauer makes Cactus League debut
Indians starter Trevor Bauer estimates that he logged 30 innings over the winter, when he faced batters and honed a slider that will be a part of his arsenal this season. On Sunday, the right-hander started against the Reds and was pleased with the early returns in his two-inning outing.
"I was a little erratic," said Bauer, who also threw fastballs and changeups. "I threw some good ones and, once I fix being out of sync mechanically, I think I'll be able to locate a lot better. But the reactions I got on the good ones were good."
Bauer struck out three, allowed no hits and issued zero walks.
• The Indians placed Cody Anderson on the 60-day disabled list on Sunday, but there was no setback involving the right-hander. Anderson, who is currently working his way back from Tommy John surgery, is back on a mound, but he is still a few months away from being ready for game activity.
"I actually followed up with him after the one on one," Francona said. "It's easy to feel out of sight, out of mind when you're [rehabbing in Arizona] and you're out here for a year. But I said, 'Hey, do your rehab correctly and at some point this year you're going to be a starting option for us.' I said, 'Just don't get ahead of yourself.'"
• Left fielder Michael Brantley (right ankle surgery in October) had "a very good day" on Saturday, according to Francona. The manager noted that decelerating had been an issue for Brantley, but the training staff was pleased with the progress made in recent workouts. Francona said Brantley might soon add outfield-specific drills to his daily rehab program.
"From all accounts, he had his best day by far," Francona said. "So, they're starting to put a plan together where he'll get out to do defensive work. That's not to mean it's going to happen tomorrow, but they're getting to the point now where they're going to start to set up a schedule here pretty soon."
"I feel like I'm in a good place coming into spring. I feel like I'm going to have a really good year. I feel like we're going to have a really good team, even though none of you guys think we're going to. And by 'you guys,' I just mean national writers and stuff like that. No one is talking about us, but we're confident in our team and it's going to be a fun year." -- Bauer
Right-hander Josh Tomlin is scheduled to start and make his Cactus League debut on Monday, when the Indians face the Brewers in a 3:05 p.m. ET tilt in Maryvale, Ariz., on MLB.TV. Right-hander Dan Otero and lefty Tyler Olson are among the relievers penciled in to pitch for Cleveland. Righty Junior Guerra will start for Milwaukee.