Lindor outlasts competition in Tribe's endurance test
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Francisco Lindor pushed through the pain, sprinted hard and dove through the line of orange cones to an eruption of cheers from his Indians teammates on Tuesday morning. It was only a performance test, but the shortstop prospect wanted badly to be the last player standing.
"Every time I do something that's a competition," said Lindor, recently rated the No. 4 prospect in baseball by MLB.com, "I'm trying to win."
At the end of Cleveland's first full-squad workout of Spring Training, strength and conditioning coach Joe Kessler had position players line up side by side and go through a unique endurance workout, a series of repeated sprints that included a short rest period before tackling each leg.
The pitchers endured the same grueling workout earlier in camp, with left-handed reliever Nick Hagadone taking the victory. With the pitchers smiling and looking on Tuesday, a quartet of Tribe prospects -- outfielders Tyler Naquin and Jordan Smith, and infielders Erik Gonzalez and Lindor -- were the final four.
Finally, all four players stopped at the same time, but when Lindor realized no one else continued, he shifted out of a fatigued crouch and ran one last victory lap for the win. Rather than running through the finish line, the 21-year-old dove headfirst before collapsing.
Video: Top Prospects: Francisco Lindor, SS, Indians
"That was because I couldn't get there," Lindor, ranked as Cleveland's No. 1 prospect by MLB.com, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus, said with a laugh. "It was very, very fun. It gets all of us together and we compete against each other. As athletes, that's what we do. We compete. I thought it was fun."
Said Hagadone: "I'm kind of thinking maybe next Spring Training we'll match up. One of us will have to go in with the other group."
Indians manager Terry Francona picked center fielder Michael Bourn to win on Tuesday.
"The younger kids wore him down," Francona said. "My pep talk to Bourny didn't work."
Bourn did, however, finish first among Cleveland's Major League players.
Francona enjoyed seeing Lindor, expected to begin this season playing with Triple-A Columbus, claim the victory.
"That was a treat," said the manager. "I know you've got to be in good shape to do it, but at some point in that thing it's not about how fast you are. It's about your will to continue, because it's easy to stop. I think it says a lot about those guys."
Francona added that he was impressed with the kind of drills Kessler came up with for this spring that not only assess the players, but naturally create competition and team bonding.
"Maybe the most important thing out of that is maybe the team-building concept," Francona said. "What I loved was they got after it, because that's hard. I mean, I was tired watching. ... And then a lot of the pitchers came out to watch. Even the guys that couldn't run came out to watch.
"I don't think they're going to ask to do it tomorrow, but I thought they did a really good job of it."