Notes: Allen turns heads; Pérez hits slam
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Logan Allen was ready to prove that he bought into the “Indians’ pitching factory” mindset over the past year. He’s followed the same routines he developed over the offseason and has already seen tremendous success on the rubber.
Allen’s hot start continued through his start on Monday, as he tossed four shutout innings in the Indians' 7-3 victory over the A’s at Goodyear Ballpark. The only question left to answer is whether those new habits will lead him to earning a spot on the Opening Day roster.
“All I'm doing is focusing on going out there and throwing up zeros,” Allen said. “If I continue to be on this routine and continue to do what I'm doing, I would assume I'm going to be in the big leagues and I'm going to have some success.”
The assumption heading into camp was that Triston McKenzie and Cal Quantrill would be the two hurlers that joined Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac and Aaron Civale in the Tribe’s rotation. But now, Allen has made that a much more difficult decision. While McKenzie will probably lock up one of the two vacancies, it will likely come down to Quantrill and Allen competing for the last spot over the next two weeks.
“Maybe coming into camp I was that guy on the outside looking in. Well, now it's almost the other way around, because of the position I've put myself in,” Allen said. “Competition's a good thing. It's made me elevate my game to the game of others, and that's the whole point of it. Looking at it from an opportunity standpoint with the competition versus 'Oh, I've got to beat somebody out,' or this and that.”
So, how exactly did he put himself in this position? Aside from his diet that allowed him to enter camp in great shape, Allen said that the Indians suggested some tweaks based on physical movements and analytics when they were breaking down his mechanics. He started working at the Indians’ alternate training site last season and continued all through the offseason. Not only did he quickly pick up on how to better his delivery, he’s mastered how to repeat it.
When Allen is able to stick to his routines, he’s been able to have tremendous success. In nine innings so far this spring, he’s pitched to a 1.00 ERA with 11 strikeouts and one walk in three outings (one start). Although it’s an extremely limited sample size, the improvement -- and consistency -- he’s displayed this spring has made it impossible for Allen to be ignored.
“Force my way, kick the door down,” Allen said. “Let everybody know that that Logan Allen that was not throwing strikes, not throwing hard, inconsistent, kind of a fringe four-A player -- that's not me. I'm here to get outs in the big leagues, I'm here to help the Indians win and I think I've done a pretty good job of showing it up to this point.
Pérez launches Tribe’s first grand slam of spring
Roberto Pérez has battled through injuries in both seasons since he was named the Tribe’s everyday backstop. In 2019, he battled through bone spurs in his ankle before having problems with his shoulder in 2020. Now that he’s finally healthy at the start of 2021, he’s hoping to have more games like his 2-for-3 performance with a grand slam on Monday.
“I've been working hard to have the same season or even a better season from 2019,” Pérez said. “I was telling some of the guys, I think health is a big thing for any player. You know, 2021 I'm very healthy. I'm driving the ball to the right side. That's where I hit the ball the best.”
Rosario played center in 'B' game
In order to keep Aaron Civale on his regular pitching schedule, the Indians played another "B" game against the Reds on Sunday. Because it was the Tribe’s off-day, only a handful of other big league players were in the lineup, including Jordan Luplow, who played in his first game since spraining his ankle at the beginning of camp, Amed Rosario, who’s working on transitioning to the outfield, and Oscar Mercado.
“[Civale] ended up giving up a grand slam in the fourth inning,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “But … he felt really good about his stuff. I think it was a success. … The fact he can get four innings on an off-day really helped.”
The biggest takeaway may have been Rosario showing the ability and willingness to move from shortstop to center field. As Andrés Giménez appears to be the top candidate to be the Tribe’s Opening Day shortstop, the Indians asked Rosario if he’d try to get some reps in center. Since Saturday, he’s put in a lot of work into making the transition.
“[Outfield coach Kyle Hudson] said [Rosario is] really leaning into it,” Francona said. “He’s doing it with enthusiasm. But he hasn’t played out there a lot. I think there’s been some thought about him playing there. … But there’s not a lot of experience out there, so we’re going to have to be patient.”