Has the Tribe done enough? Antonetti says yes

February 18th, 2020

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- For the first time in a handful of years, the American League Central is expected to be competitive among -- at least -- the White Sox, Indians and Twins. But the way Minnesota and Chicago were able to bulk up over the offseason creates questions as to whether Cleveland has done enough to remain in contention.

The Twins had notable additions in pitchers Homer Bailey, Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda, as well as third baseman Josh Donaldson, and Chicago added designated hitter Edwin Encarnación, catcher Yasmani Grandal, and hurlers Dallas Keuchel and Gio González.

The Indians added to their lineup by signing second baseman César Hernández. To get a depth piece for the outfield in Delino DeShields and a hard-throwing reliever in Emmanuel Clase, they gave up Corey Kluber. Cleveland proved as recently as last year that a team can get better by losing top-tier talent, trading Trevor Bauer for Franmil Reyes, Yasiel Puig, Logan Allen, Scott Moss and Victor Nova. But now the Indians will have to prove that they can be a factor.

“Corey’s an amazing pitcher, top five pitcher in the league,” shortstop Francisco Lindor said. “He helped our pitching staff grow. So did Bauer. Thanks to them and to the work ethic the guys have been putting in, we’re going to compete. I’m not sure we’re going to win 105 games or 100 games, but we’re going to compete, and it’s going to be a fun year. We’ll surprise a lot of people. Whoever’s not counting on us, I am. I’m counting on us. I want to play in October. It doesn’t feel good to be home in September. It sucks.”

Other than backup catcher Sandy León and outfielder Domingo Santana, who was a last-minute signing, the team consists of faces seen in the organization last year. There was a lot of speculation as to whether the Indians would try to re-sign Puig for 2020, but the team decided to ink Santana just before position players reported to camp.

“Every time we show up in Spring Training, our goal is to win,” president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said. “That’s our mindset and goal this year. We know the teams in our division continue to get better. The White Sox and Twins are really strong teams, so we know we have our work cut out for us. But we believe in the players we have here, and we can go out and compete and contend.”

Live BP sessions underway

The Indians headed to the backfields on Tuesday afternoon to get their first rounds of batting practice under their belts. Carlos Carrasco took the mound at Field 3 to face Lindor, José Ramírez and Carlos Santana. How did he look?

“Like Carlos Carrasco, which is about the best compliment you can give him,” manager Terry Francona said. “I thought he looked really good.”

Lindor didn’t look too rusty himself, as he hopped into the box and launched a homer off Carrasco, in addition to a handful of line drives.

“Normally, the first time guys get in and face live pitching, a lot of them don’t even swing, because they don’t want to get themselves into bad habits,” Francona said. “It’s obvious that Frankie felt pretty good about himself.”

Just a few steps away, James Karinchak toed the rubber to face Ernie Clement, Reyes, Jordan Luplow and Oscar Mercado.

“He didn’t throw strikes with his fastball,” Francona said. “I thought he threw a really good breaking ball. But he kind of scattered his fastball all over the place. So I can certainly understand where if you’re a hitter, you’re not necessarily gonna be digging in when a guy’s scattering balls to both sides of the plate.”