GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians manager Terry Francona has made it no secret that he did not like how disjointed Spring Training felt with the World Baseball Classic removing players from camp. With the tournament now complete, Cleveland can return to business as usual.The United States defeated Puerto Rico in the
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians manager Terry Francona has made it no secret that he did not like how disjointed Spring Training felt with the World Baseball Classic removing players from camp. With the tournament now complete, Cleveland can return to business as usual.
The United States defeated Puerto Rico in the Classic championship on Wednesday to clear the way for shortstop Francisco Lindor, catcher Roberto Perez, relief ace Andrew Miller and reliever Joseph Colon to return to Tribe camp. Over the next few days, that group will begin being worked back into the Cactus League mix for the Indians.
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"I've been pretty vocal about how I've felt about our guys not being here," Francona said on Thursday morning. "I probably should follow that up with: The communication was outstanding."
One of the priorities for the returnees will be getting Perez caught up with the at-bats he missed.
The Indians knew Perez -- the backup to Yadier Molina with Puerto Rico -- would not see much playing time in the Classic. Before Perez left for the tournament, he even joked about it, quipping that he was "getting prepared," while cleaning up some cups and towels. All kidding aside, Cleveland wants to help Perez make up for lost time.
Perez, who appeared in two games for Puerto Rico, will start as the designated hitter on Friday against the Cubs, and start behind the plate for the Indians on Saturday against the White Sox. Francona noted the catcher can also head down to Minor League games to pick up some extra at-bats without the added stress of catching.
"He's been sitting way too much," Francona said. "He'll be fine, but we can get a little creative."
Lindor was one of the stars of Team Puerto Rico, hitting .370 with a 1.049 OPS in his seven games in the World Baseball Classic. Francona noted the shortstop will likely make his Cactus League return on Saturday. Cleveland will also need to stress some infield fundamentals in workouts over the next two weeks, given that its shortstop missed a chunk of camp.
Francona said they will talk things over with Miller when he returns, to form his pitching schedule.
Before Miller left for the Classic, there was some concern over how much he might be used for Team USA. When all was said and done, the lefty appeared in four games and logged 2 2/3 innings, during which he struck out five and walked one. Miller allowed four runs, but they all came in a first-round outing against the Dominican Republic.
Throughout the Classic, Francona and pitching coach Mickey Callaway kept in contact with Team USA manager Jim Leyland and pitching coach Jeff Jones on Miller's workload.
"There was never a problem with the communication," Francona said. "So, however [Miller] was used, we knew, and we appreciated that. Jonesy, he had been a pitching coach in Detroit and he had guys that were there. He knows. We never for one minute thought they didn't care. It's just, you still get nervous."
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.