5 things we've learned from Indians camp

March 2nd, 2019

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It’s been two weeks since the Indians held their first full-squad workout, and although manager Terry Francona has said it’s too early to make decisions, there are a few things we’ve learned in this short period. Here are five:

Expect at least one non-roster invitee to make the team
Cleveland has a history with adding Spring Training non-roster invitees to the team’s Opening day roster, and Francona doesn’t think 2019 will be any different. The Indians have a few veteran names to choose from, including right-handers , and , infielder , outfielder and designated hitter/first baseman .

The top three names to watch from that list will be Clippard, Wilson and Ramirez. Clippard and Wilson have proven themselves as durable, consistent relievers who are willing to pitch in any situation. Both could make a big impact in the Tribe’s bullpen in 2019.

The Indians are hoping Ramirez can earn his a spot on the club by the end of Spring Training. The 14-year veteran hasn’t played in a Major League game since last April, but if Ramirez can prove he still can produce at the plate, Cleveland will have potentially secured the missing power bat from its lineup with very little risk.

Bauers and Naquin in the corners?
If Ramirez is able to secure the DH spot, then would likely take the first-base job and Bauers would be moved to left field to keep his bat in the lineup. Assuming Ramirez has a successful spring, this could be the club’s strongest lineup.

The right-field front runner appears to be Naquin, but he needs to prove he can be in the lineup on an everyday basis, especially against lefties, to show there’s no need for a platoon. Other options still include , , Joyce and Brandon Barnes.

Rotation is intact and the closer has been named
After an offseason full of trade rumors surrounding and , the Indians’ rotation remains intact. Kluber placed third in voting for the 2018 American League Cy Young Award, Bauer improved his changeup over the offseason and Shane Bieber now has a year of experience under his belt, which could lead to an even more dominant Cleveland staff than in years past.

Francona also informed that he will bet he closer. After having an undefined role last year due to , the left-hander will be able to settle into closing games this season.

The locks, CF: After battling a life-threatening bacterial infection Martin is back to full strength and is excited for his return to the field on Opening Day.

, 2B: At the end of 2018, Kipnis had made the move to the outfield, but Francona informed him at the beginning of camp that he will be back in the infield in 2019.

, SS: Despite the right calf strain, the Indians remain positive that Lindor will be back in time for Opening Day. If not, it won’t be long after that until he returns.

, 3B: After finishing 2018 at second base, Ramirez made the move back to third when the team traded to Tampa Bay in exchange for Bauers.

Zimmer and Salazar work to rejoin Tribe
Both and will not be ready to open the season with the Indians, but the team is expecting both to make an impact at some point this season.

Zimmer has looked good while taking batting practice on the field, but he is taking it slowly with throwing. He could be ready early in the season based on the way he’s progressing.

Salazar’s tentative timetable for a return is around the All-Star break. If he can get on the mound prior to the end of Spring Training, he thinks it will be possible. Because the Indians agreed to a one-year $4.5-million deal with the right-hander this offseason, it’s clear they believe he can make an impact this season, as well.