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Franmil displays power, homers in Tribe's win

February 23, 2020

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- At 10:30 a.m. MT on Sunday in Goodyear, Ariz., Franmil Reyes was punishing balls during batting practice. Two consecutive pitches were sent into orbit and didn't stop until they clanged off the scoreboard in right-center field. Nearly four hours later in Surprise, Reyes did the same thing,

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- At 10:30 a.m. MT on Sunday in Goodyear, Ariz., Franmil Reyes was punishing balls during batting practice. Two consecutive pitches were sent into orbit and didn't stop until they clanged off the scoreboard in right-center field.

Nearly four hours later in Surprise, Reyes did the same thing, this one counting as his first home run of the Cactus League season in the sixth inning of Sunday’s 9-5 win over the Royals.

That up-the-middle approach is something that manager Terry Francona and his coaching staff have attempted to drill into their hitters.

“In batting practice, [we tell our guys,] try to hit the ball the other way with authority,” Francona said. “It just keeps you on balance.”

Reyes arrived in Cleveland at the Trade Deadline last season from San Diego in the three-way deal that sent Trevor Bauer to Cincinnati. The 24-year-old possessed prodigious power as a prospect, and he translated that ability into games with the Padres, hitting 43 home runs in his first 186 career big league games. He closed out 2019 with 10 homers in 51 games for the Indians.

Having had an entire offseason to acclimate to his new organization, Reyes made a loud first impression in the Tribe's Cactus League opener.

DeShields’ spot in outfield mix
When the Indians decided to deal two-time American League Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber during the offseason, only one player with significant Major League experience came back from the Rangers in return: Delino DeShields.

How Francona moves his outfield pieces around the lineup card during the regular season remains to be seen. But DeShields, who delivered 12 Outs Above Average each of the past two seasons in Texas, is one of the best defensive assets of the group. His premier defense stems from elite sprint speed, having ranked in the top 1 percent of the Majors in 2018 at 30 feet/second. Both his Outs Above Average and sprint speed ranked in the 97th percentile last year.

DeShields hit leadoff Sunday and grounded out to second to begin the game, but he nearly beat the throw to the bag. He played four innings in center field and finished 0-for-2 with a walk.

“We think his defense in center field is excellent,” Francona said, citing DeShields’ speed as one of the attributes that the team feels optimistic about maximizing.

But as the Rangers found out firsthand, DeShields' bat has not yet quite caught up to his glove. In his rookie season in 2015, he had a career-high .718 OPS. He posted a .233/.318/.315 slash line over 801 plate appearances the past two years.

As for how prevalent of a presence DeShields will be in the lineup, Francona has essentially put that in the hands of his outfielder.

“He’ll dictate by the way that he swings the bat," Francona said. "We’re looking for guys to help us score runs. I know the manager writes the lineup, but generally, the guys kind of make the lineup card out themselves."

Rodriguez kicks off Cactus League
Starting rotation candidate Jefry Rodriguez worked two innings during his start Sunday, in which his fastball reached 97 mph. He yielded two hits -- one of which was a booming home run to Royals outfielder Bubba Starling -- walked one and struck out two.

“I thought that he stayed in his mechanics extremely well,” Francona said. “The one time that he fell behind in the count, he threw a fastball and it got hit. But I thought that it was a really, really encouraging outing.”

After making 10 appearances (eight starts) for the Tribe last season and posting a 4.63 ERA, Rodriguez will be using the spring to make his case for a spot on the Opening Day staff.

Carrasco on the mend
Right-hander Carlos Carrasco, who sustained a mild right hip flexor strain Wednesday, played catch Saturday, per Francona. The news is a step forward in the recovery process after Carrasco needed a crutch for stability Thursday. He walked around the clubhouse Sunday without any assistance.

Up next
Cleveland sends right-hander Zach Plesac to the hill for Monday’s game vs. Colorado at Salt River Fields at 3:05 p.m. ET. Plesac, who posted a 3.81 ERA and 1.23 WHIP across 21 starts last season, will be making his 2020 Cactus League debut. As injuries have stunted both Mike Clevinger and Carrasco early in spring, the health of the 25-year-old Plesac will be paramount heading into Opening Day.