Alonso homers in first at-bat for Indians
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It only took Yonder Alonso one pitch to show why the Indians added him over the offseason.
In the second inning of Friday's 6-4 loss to the Reds, during his first at-bat as a member of the Tribe, Alonso crushed the first pitch he saw from Cincinnati starter Sal Romano to deep right field. The ball carried over the fence, sailed above the right-field seats and then clanked off a tin rooftop at Goodyear Ballpark.
"He didn't mess around," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He didn't wait around. First pitch. That was a pretty swing."
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After Carlos Santana left via free agency and signed a lucrative contract with the Phillies over the winter, Cleveland targeted Alonso and reeled him in with a two-year, $16 million pact. That deal comes in the wake of a career year for Alonso, who remade himself as a hitter and belted a career-high 28 homers in 2017 between stints with the A's and Mariners. He never had more than nine homers in a season prior to that breakout showing.
Alonso, who will turn 31 on April 8, said he has been impressed with the atmosphere around Cleveland's camp this spring.
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"I think it's great," Alonso said. "Guys are here early. They're getting their work done. Guys are having fun competing and, when it's time to go, it's time to go, and we take it in all seriousness. But, we understand that it's a long Spring Training and we want to make sure that we're out here having fun and doing all the things we need to do to be ready for Opening Day."
With that in mind, Alonso downplayed his first-pitch home run in his Indians debut.
"It felt good to go out there and just be with the guys and get on a roll," he said.
And what did Alonso's teammates think of his homer?
"[They said], 'Well, that's a good way to get things going,'" Alonso said.
• For Friday's opener, both Rajai Davis and Melvin Upton Jr. were in the starting outfield. Davis got the nod in center and Upton started in right field. This spring, the veterans are in camp as non-roster invitees, but are competing for a spot on Cleveland's Opening Day roster.
"You're going to see those guys play more early than the guys who know they're going to play," Francona said of the players in competition for reserve roles. "We want them to play enough where they can [get their timing], so we can get the best read we can. Even saying that, Spring Training is hard. You look for bat speed. You look for where they fit on your ballclub, certainly track record has something to do with it. And you make the best decision you can, because if you just went exclusively on Spring Training, you'd make mistakes.
• Right-hander Mike Clevinger got the start for the Tribe on Friday and retired the only three batters he faced in the first inning. The pitcher said he wanted to throw more pitches in the bullpen after his outing, but was sent back to the team's complex to complete the remainder of his workout.
"Yeah, he's kind of huffing and puffing out there," Francona quipped. "But, I thought he stayed in his delivery really well. He's pretty amped up, as he always is, but I thought he stayed in his delivery good."
• The Indians joined the rest of MLB teams in wearing the hats of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for Friday's game. The hats will be signed and auctioned off to raise money for a victims fund in the wake of the tragic recent shooting at the Florida school.
"The hat isn't going to do the changing," Clevinger said. "But, if it's going to bring awareness to the issue, that's what we're striving to do. At the same time, there's a lot of self-destruction going on when events happen like this, instead of coming together and trying to find a reason to prevent this or find a reasonable cause to better the situation."
The Indians will head to Salt River Fields in Scottsdale on Saturday for a 3:10 p.m. ET Cactus League clash with the D-backs that will air on Gameday Audio. Outfielders Bradley Zimmer, Lonnie Chisenhall and Tyler Naquin are slated to be in the lineup, along with catcher Roberto Perez, third baseman Yandy Diaz and first-base prospect Bobby Bradley. Lefty Shawn Morimando is scheduled to start, while Nicholas Goody and Tyler Olson are among the relievers penciled in to pitch.