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Lindor on WS ring: 'We're going after it'

All-Star shortstop looks to get Tribe over postseason hump
MLB.com @MLBastian

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Francisco Lindor had not stopped thinking about the Indians' early exit from the October stage last season. The star shortstop still has a pit in his stomach at the thought of how close they came to winning the World Series two years ago.

This spring, one word is on Lindor's mind.

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Francisco Lindor had not stopped thinking about the Indians' early exit from the October stage last season. The star shortstop still has a pit in his stomach at the thought of how close they came to winning the World Series two years ago.

This spring, one word is on Lindor's mind.

"Finish," Lindor said. "I want to finish."

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That is what is driving Lindor this spring and what will continue to run his internal motor throughout the 2018 season. The Indians had a 3-1 lead against the Cubs in the 2016 Fall Classic, and lost. They had a 2-0 advantage over the Yankees in the American League Division Series last year, and lost. Lindor, and the teammates who were a part of those teams, do not want those defeats to define this group.

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Lindor was asked about all that the Indians did accomplish last year. They won a second straight AL Central crown and ended with 102 victories, representing only the third time in the franchise's long, storied history that a team hit the century mark. The Tribe rattled off an AL-record 22 consecutive victories across August and September.

Lindor shook his head.

"When you don't win, that's what you remember the most," he said. "To me, last year was fun. We had a great year. But to me, it wasn't a successful season. I want to win. That's not a successful season, because we didn't finish. We were healthy and we learned a lot from what we went through in the season, and we're blessed. But, we didn't win. At the end of the day, it's a season you don't remember."

After the Indians were eliminated by the Yankees in October, Lindor took about a month off from his training. He said he did not watch any of the subsequent postseason games in full -- just an inning here or there. Lindor allowed himself to turn on the World Series a few times, if only to toss a few more logs on his internal fire.

"It's tough for you to live without baseball," Lindor said. "You definitely don't want to finish your season like that. I'm still hurt about it."

How hurt?

"It's like the girlfriend that you break up with. You never get over it," he said. "You turn the page, but you can't get over it. You always remember that she was there."

One of the highlights of last season came in Game 2 of the ALDS, when Lindor belted a grand slam that electrified Progressive Field and helped put the Indians in position to win that classic game, 9-8, in 13 innings. Lindor is quick to point out that it was just one of two hits he had in the entire series.

"We were nine innings from moving on," Lindor said. "I didn't perform and I didn't help my team."

So, when November came around, Lindor focused on his training.

He worked out with Hall of Famer Barry Larkin and a handful of current big leaguers, as he has in offseasons past. Lindor did some boxing each week. He lifted. He took batting practice and gloved grounders at his old high school, Montverde Academy in Florida. With every drill, he kept his mind on his ultimate goal of helping lead Cleveland to its first World Series title since 1948.

Lindor was the runner-up for the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 2015. He won both Gold and Platinum Glove Awards for his defense prowess at shortstop in '16. Last year, Lindor belted 33 home runs, piled up 81 extra-base hits and walked away with an AL Silver Slugger Award, and he was fifth in voting for the AL Most Valuable Player Award. He has been an All-Star in each of his two full seasons.

What Lindor really wants is to get fitted for a World Series ring.

"We ain't curling up, I guarantee you that," Lindor said. "We're going after it, man. We want to win. I want to win. There's no one here saying we don't want to win. Everybody wants to win and finish the thing."

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 Facebook.

Cleveland Indians, Francisco Lindor