GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It didn't take long for Edwin Encarnacion to look comfortable in an Indians uniform. The sound of his powerful swing made that clear on Saturday afternoon, when Cleveland's new slugger delivered the club's first run of the spring season.In the first inning of the Indians' 8-2 Cactus
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It didn't take long for Edwin Encarnacion to look comfortable in an Indians uniform. The sound of his powerful swing made that clear on Saturday afternoon, when Cleveland's new slugger delivered the club's first run of the spring season.
In the first inning of the Indians' 8-2 Cactus League win against the Reds, Encarnacion drilled a pitch from Reds left-hander Amir Garrett into left field for an RBI single. Encarnacion stood on first base amidst cheers from the Goodyear Ballpark crowd, which was dotted with Tribe jerseys. It was an early look into why the Indians invested heavily into Encarnacion this winter.
"I'm getting to know everyone," said Encarnacion, who went 2-for-2 in his Indians debut. "It's going to be a great lineup. We've got great potential. From one through nine, I think we have a lot of good players who can hit. This is going to be a fun year."
For the Reds, Joey Votto went 0-for-3 in his spring debut, but the first baseman did turn in a dazzling play in the field. In the third, outfielder Bradley Zimmer -- Cleveland's No. 1 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com -- ripped a pitch up the first-base line. Votto dove to his left, snared the ball and flipped it to pitcher Jumbo Diaz for the out. One run scored on the play.
Zimmer ended the afternoon with two hits, a walk and five RBIs for the Indians, including a three-run home run.
"It's definitely one of the better feelings in life when you connect with the ball like that," Zimmer said of his opposite-field home run. "I'm not going to lie. I got a pitch out over the plate and stayed on it. That's usually where I get balls pretty well, that's usually where they go. That was a good swing for me, and I need to keep building off of that."
Eugenio Suarez highlighted Cincinnati's early offense with a leadoff homer against Indians starter Ryan Merritt in the second inning. Hernan Iribarren later delivered a run-scoring single later in the inning.
"The big hit was elusive today, but there were a lot of good at-bats, a lot of hard contact," Reds manager Bryan Price said of his team's 14-hit game. "You look at guys like [Tony] Renda and [Aristides] Aquino and Joe Hudson all hit the ball on the screws. Iribarren had a couple of nice hits. [Desmond] Jennings with a base hit up the middle. There was just the lack of a big hit, and they threw more strikes than we did."
Jose Ramirez got Cleveland's first-inning rally started with a one-out double that split the gap in right-center field. Francisco Lindor followed by reaching on an error, setting things up for Encarnacion, who was tied for the American League lead in RBIs with 127 last season for the Blue Jays. Encarnacion -- following several days of batting-practice home runs at Cleveland's complex -- did not disappoint with an RBI single.
Coming off its first World Series appearance since 1997, Cleveland officially brought Encarnacion into the fold on Jan. 5 with a three-year contract worth $60 million guaranteed. As was the case on Saturday, Encarnacion will serve as the new cleanup hitter for the Tribe's potent lineup. He manned first base against the Reds, but he will also see time as the club's designated hitter this season.
Reds Up Next: 2016 All-Star left fielder Adam Duvall and second baseman Jose Peraza are expected to be in the lineup at 3:05 p.m. ET on Sunday, when the Reds have their Cactus League home opener vs. the Giants. Rotation candidate Tim Adleman is slated to start, with Robert Stephenson, Michael Lorenzen and Tony Cingrani set to appear out of the bullpen.
Indians Up Next: The Indians and Cubs will meet for the first time in 2017, following their historic World Series matchup last fall. Right-hander Danny Salazar will take the ball for the Tribe against Cubs righty Jake Buchanan in a 3:05 p.m. ET clash at Sloan Park in Mesa, Ariz. Jason Kipnis is set to make his Cactus League debut for the Indians as the designated hitter.
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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.
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.