CLEVELAND -- Francisco Lindor remembers going to Hiram Bithorn Stadium in his youth and watching the Major Leaguers on the diamond play out his dream before him in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Now, the Indians' shortstop will have a chance to take that same field, giving kids in the stands
CLEVELAND -- Francisco Lindor remembers going to Hiram Bithorn Stadium in his youth and watching the Major Leaguers on the diamond play out his dream before him in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Now, the Indians' shortstop will have a chance to take that same field, giving kids in the stands another example to follow.
During the Tribe's upcoming trip to San Juan for a pair of games against the Twins on April 17-18, Lindor also plans on giving back through a special clinic at his old elementary school. Lindor will host the program for approximately 250 kids on Monday in Gurabo, P.R., as part of the "Players Going Home" initiative.
"I've been looking forward to this opportunity for a long time," Lindor said in a statement. "And I couldn't be more excited now that these games are less than a week away. I have said many times that playing in Puerto Rico is a dream come true. I can't wait to take the field in front of the fans in my homeland. I'm sure it is going to be a moment that I'll never forget."
Twins outfielder Eddie Rosario will also be taking part in the "Players Going Home" program, which is part of the Youth Development Foundation, a joint fund put together by Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association. There will also be a charity golf event to benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico and Habitat for Humanity, a PLAY BALL event and a Puerto Rico R.B.I. (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) game at Hiram Bithorn, along with other special programs and unveilings.
Besides Lindor, Indians catcher Roberto Perez and first-base coach Sandy Alomar Jr. were born in Puerto Rico.
"For Frankie, Roberto and Sandy, it will be really special," Indians manager Terry Francona said of the upcoming trip. "They're trying to do some things in the community, things like that. I think it'll be fun. Again, you've got to remember that they're not exhibition games, because sometimes you get [distracted] in that atmosphere. But, I think it's good for baseball, and I think our guys will enjoy it."
• Heading into Tuesday's play, Indians top prospect Francisco Mejia had caught two games and played another pair in left field for Triple-A Columbus. The Indians are getting Mejia innings in the outfield in order to potentially expedite his path to the Majors, given the presence of catchers Yan Gomes and Perez in Cleveland.
"It's a work in progress, which we knew," Francona said. "I don't know that you can go from being a catcher to being a Gold Glove outfielder, I don't think. But, as long as he's willing to try it and put the work in, which he is, it just opens up maybe more avenues for him to get to the Major Leagues.
"He has a tremendous arm. That's not going to be an issue anywhere. Balls off the bat, you can take all the drills you want -- and he does -- but balls off the bat are probably the hardest thing. Your first step. Making sure you're going in the right direction. Not coming straight up. Repetition will be the best thing for him."
• Left fielder Michael Brantley played three games in a row after being activated from the disabled list on Friday, and he returned to the starting lineup Tuesday after a scheduled day off on Monday. Said Francona: "We'll just try to use some common sense with him. He's worked so hard that he deserves the best chance to come back and stay back. If that means us making some concessions at some point, it's really worth it."
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.