In his first Spring Training as a Minor Leaguer in 2014, Bradley Zimmer got a chance to play on the big league side. Reds pitcher Michael Lorenzen greeted Zimmer with an inadvertent 97-mph fastball to the ribs.• Players Weekend gear available at MLBShop.comAfter the game, trainers understandably wanted to check
In his first Spring Training as a Minor Leaguer in 2014, Bradley Zimmer got a chance to play on the big league side. Reds pitcher Michael Lorenzen greeted Zimmer with an inadvertent 97-mph fastball to the ribs.
• Players Weekend gear available at MLBShop.com
After the game, trainers understandably wanted to check Zimmer for any damage, so they had Zimmer remove his shirt to examine him.
• Players Weekend: Nicknames of the game
"And there was no mark or anything," Zimmer said. "So immediately right after that, [Indians outfielder Michael Brantley] was like, 'This guy's a machine!'
"It just kind of evolved from there, and it just stuck, so everyone here pretty much calls me that."
"Machine" will be plastered on the back of Zimmer's jersey for MLB's first Players Weekend from Friday through Sunday, giving fans a chance to learn and adopt the rookie's moniker as well.
For some teammates, the "Machine" nickname is a reflection of Zimmer's 6-foot-5, 220-pound frame, which pitcher Mike Clevinger estimated is about two percent body fat.
"He's just built like a machine," Clevinger said, adding Zimmer's production is a factor to the nickname as well. "Especially him running through walls and just standing right back up, that definitely plays into it as well."
For others, it's the array of skills that Zimmer has displayed in his first year in the Majors.
"He's kind of like your true five-tool guy," catcher Yan Gomes said. "You see him hit, that guy's got some unreal pop. You see him run, he's to me one of the fastest guys I've seen run. It's a beauty seeing him take off. And then you see him throw -- I mean that guy I think he was clocked at 100 something [mph] or whatever it was."
Indeed, Zimmer has topped triple digits. Against the Twins on June 18, Zimmer uncorked a 101.5 mph throw to gun down Max Kepler at the plate. According to Statcast™, it is the hardest-thrown outfield assist of the season. Zimmer has made three of the five hardest throws by outfielders this year, including the second-hardest, at 102.5 mph.
"So he's definitely that body guy that you built when you're building a ballplayer," Gomes said.
The Indians and the rest of the MLB players will wear colorful, non-traditional uniforms during Players Weekend, wearing specially made hats from New Era, socks from Stance, and patches on the side of their jerseys showing the progression of a player from Little League to the Bigs. Under that patch will be a white space where players can write the name of a person they're grateful for having helped pave their path to the Majors.
The game-worn jerseys will later be auctioned at MLB.com/auctions, with 100 percent of the net proceeds going to the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation, which was established in 2015. The joint venture of MLB and the MLBPA had an initial commitment of $30 million, focused on improving the caliber, effectiveness and availability of amateur baseball and softball programs in the United States and Canada.
The Pirates and Cardinals debuted the uniforms Sunday, during the MLB Little League Classic in Williamsport, Pa. The rest of MLB will follow suit this weekend.
Here's a list of nicknames that some Indians are expected to sport on the back of their jerseys on Players Weekend:
• Francisco Lindor: "MR. SMILE"
• Edwin Encarnacion: "EE"
• Jason Kipnis: "KIP"
• Michael Brantley: "DR. SMOOTH"
• Carlos Santana: "SLAMTANA"
• Corey Kluber: "KLUBES"
• Terry Francona: "TITO"
• Danny Salazar: "SALLY"
• Carlos Carrasco: "COOKIE"
• Trevor Bauer: "BAUER OUTAGE"
Connor Mount is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg.