CLEVELAND -- The Indians knew the location for Tribe Fest would not be ideal this year, but that did not stop the team's fans from showing up and making the annual event a success once again.On Saturday, the Indians enjoyed a sold-out performance from their loyalists, who flocked to Aloft
CLEVELAND -- The Indians knew the location for Tribe Fest would not be ideal this year, but that did not stop the team's fans from showing up and making the annual event a success once again.
On Saturday, the Indians enjoyed a sold-out performance from their loyalists, who flocked to Aloft Hotel in downtown Cleveland for the chance to meet many of the players and continue the countdown to the 2016 season. For the Indians, it was a great chance to have face-to-face interaction with their fans on the cusp of what the team hopes is a memorable year.
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"This is great," said outfielder Rajai Davis, who signed with the Indians this winter. "I'm actually really getting to know not only the fans, but my teammates, too. It's really nice to get that personal contact with the fans and seeing how really fired up everyone is about the season. They're ready to go. We're ready to go. We're expecting big things this year."
Roughly 20 Indians players were on hand for Saturday's festivities, along with Tribe alumni such as Sandy Alomar Jr., Carlos Baerga, Ellis Burks, Mike Hargrove, Cory Snyder and Jaret Wright. The Indians from the past and present held discussions on stage, mingled with fans and took part in a variety of activities around the buzzing hotel.
The Indians announced that more than 3,000 fans attended Saturday's event, which was relocated to the hotel setting after taking place at Progressive Field the previous two winters. Ongoing renovations at the ballpark forced the change in venue, but the fans still experienced multiple stations for kids, tables featuring merchandise and giveaways and a celebrity bartending station in the evening session.
Kids had the chance to help create a Lego mosaic picture of manager Terry Francona with the help of artist Wayne Peltz, who is an assistant clubhouse manager for the ballclub. Chris Antonetti, the Indians' president of baseball operations, also signed kids to mock contracts at another station. Mascots roamed the halls, along with players, coaches and Francona.
The event is one of the final steps in the annual march toward Spring Training. The team's equipment truck will depart for Goodyear, Ariz., on Friday and the team's pitchers and catchers will report Feb. 17. Before long, Opening Day will arrive April 4.
"This is a great opportunity for me and I believe for our team to do something special this year," Davis said. "I think we have all the ingredients to win and that's what we all expect to do."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.