Notes: Chang's power surge; Clevinger debuts

July 11th, 2020

CLEVELAND -- Prior to Friday night’s intrasquad scrimmage, Yu Chang said that his home runs earlier this week had been assisted by the strong outwardly wind. But when he launched a long ball against Scott Moss later that evening, the air couldn’t have been more still.

Chang claims his power isn’t some underrated tool that’s been overlooked, but he’s done nothing but flex that skill since arriving at Summer Camp. On Monday, Chang nearly hit the scoreboard in left field on a home run against Carlos Carrasco, nearly replicated the exact shot against Zach Plesac on Wednesday, launched another long ball against Shane Bieber on Thursday and added another to his stats sheet on Friday against Moss.

“I feel very good right now,” Chang said through translator Kuanwu Chu. “I can see the ball very clear, at least for this week. All I want is to keep doing it at the same pace and work on the normal stuff.”

Chang continues to be in the race for the Indians’ utility job, alongside Mike Freeman, Christian Arroyo and newly signed Jake Elmore. During Spring Training, Chang hit .250 with a .740 OPS in 13 games. He returned to Taiwan in April to wait for baseball to resume and has come back with a red-hot, consistent bat, something that Indians manager Terry Francona hopes will boost the 24-year-old’s confidence.

“I don’t care if it’s January or February or we’re playing with nobody in the stands, I love seeing our guys do well,” Francona said. “He has taken four or five swings this past week that are just -- he hit a ball the other day that was, like, five rows from hitting the back wall there. It’s just really obvious that he worked hard during the time off, but I love watching him do that. Hopefully it’s really good for his confidence because this kid’s got some talent to play.

Clevinger’s first outing

took the mound in his first intrasquad outing on Friday evening and gave up four runs (two earned) on two hits, with two walks, one strikeout and a home run that resulted in a Francisco Lindor somersault at home plate. Although his team came out on the losing end of the 4-2 visiting team victory, Clevinger said he felt good for his first time back in a game-like setting.

“I felt like I started off commanding the zone with everything I wanted in the beginning,” Clevinger said, “and then I kind of got out of my mechanics a little bit and started letting guys back in counts after getting ahead of them.”

With only two weeks remaining until Opening Day, Clevinger expects to have two more intrasquad outings before taking the mound in a regular-season game. At that point, he expects himself to be stretched out to 100 pitches.

“I'll be up there, I'd say the range would be 85 to 100 for that first start in the regular season,” Clevinger said. “These are all assumptions though."

Daniel Johnson named MVP of Game 1

The Indians usually name an MVP during their team meetings in the clubhouse every day, but because of the coronavirus safety guidelines, they’re no longer gathering in large groups. This caused them to make a pregame announcement over the PA system on Friday, alerting the team who was named the MVP of their first intrasquad game on Thursday. And with his three-run homer, Daniel Johnson took the honors.

Francona met Johnson at home plate with his award of a $100 bill.

“It was nice,” Johnson said. “He said he didn’t want to touch me because of the coronavirus, so we kept our distance. I just took the money from him and we didn’t touch hands. It was nice, though. Just to get recognized like that, even in a practice game, it’s a blessing.”