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Tomlin taking time to soak in the moment

Free agency looms for organization's longest-tenured player
September 24, 2018

CHICAGO -- As Josh Tomlin jogged to the mound at Progressive Field on Sunday night, the thought definitely crossed his mind. Given the uncertainty surrounding the postseason roster and with free agency looming for the veteran, Tomlin considered that it may have been his final time pitching for the Indians

CHICAGO -- As Josh Tomlin jogged to the mound at Progressive Field on Sunday night, the thought definitely crossed his mind. Given the uncertainty surrounding the postseason roster and with free agency looming for the veteran, Tomlin considered that it may have been his final time pitching for the Indians in Cleveland.
Tomlin, who is a revered part of the ballclub and the longest-tenured player in the organization, soaked in the moment.
"Yeah, I tried to," Tomlin said. "When I got out there, it was just one of those times where it's like, 'You know what? This is the last regular-season game here at Progressive Field. Enjoy it and try to get ready for the playoffs in case you're on the roster.'"
Tomlin worked the 10th and the 11th innings, holding the Red Sox off the board to position the Indians for their seventh walk-off win of the season. If it does turn out to have been Tomlin's final appearance for Cleveland at home, the final score of 4-3 was fitting. That is the number (43) the soft-spoken right-hander has worn since beating the Yankees in his Major League debut on July 27, 2010.
The Indians selected Tomlin in the 19th round of the 2006 Draft and the pitcher without a high-velocity fastball has carved out a career that includes 182 outings (143) starts for the Tribe. His success story as a non-prospect -- one fueled by a relentless work ethic and a willingness to do whatever was asked of him -- is why the organization enjoys having Tomlin speak to Minor Leaguers during the fall development program.

A group of prospects were at Progressive Field during the last homestand, during which Tomlin and a few other big leaguers held court.
"It's fun to be able to go talk to those guys," Tomlin said. "You don't have to throw 100 [mph] to get to the big leagues. You don't have to throw 100 to have a career. But it is nice to be able to go out there and compete and, if they see that, if they see hard work, and they see that type of routine that you have moving forward, and you can actually go out there and repeat those on a daily basis, you have a chance of being successful in the big leagues."
Tomlin's weak spot has been home runs, a large issue this season. Through 31 appearances, the righty has a 6.44 ERA with 24 homers allowed in 65 2/3 innings. Tomlin's home-run rate of 1.67 per nine innings is the highest in MLB history among the 1,528 pitchers with at least 800 career innings. That said, he also ranks fifth all-time in strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.56) and 23rd all-time in walk rate (1.34).
Tomlin, who is scheduled to start Thursday in Kansas City, is not the only Cleveland player facing an uncertain future. Michael Brantley, Cody Allen and Andrew Miller are among the players eligible for free agency this winter. For that group, along with the other veterans on the team, there is a sense of urgency for the October ahead.
"We're all looking forward to it," Tomlin said. "I think we all kind of know that this could be the last time we all play together as a unit. We've had good times here, and we want to finish on a high note. That's kind of been what we've talked about for the past five or six years. We want to win a championship together. We have that opportunity in front of us."
Worth noting
• Catcher Roberto Perez exited Sunday's game after taking a foul ball off his right shoulder. Indians manager Terry Francona indicated that Perez was sore, but doing fine. More than anything, the manager said removing Perez was a way to get rookie catcher Eric Haase more experience.

• Francona wants to hold an intrasquad game Oct. 2 at Progressive Field to keep his players sharp during the four-day intermission prior to the American League Division Series. The team is still brainstorming how best to simulate a real game.
"I've got a bunch of brilliant ideas," Francona said. "There's a lot that goes into it. In my perfect world, you open up the gates, let people come in and maybe donate to charity -- say they want to pay a dollar. I don't care. Whatever it is. And we could use the scoreboard. ... We'll see. They've got a week to work on it. We'll see. One way or another, we're going to play a game. It might be quiet."
• Francona plans to meet with a handful of players to discuss their standing for the playoff roster. The last decisions will be made by Oct. 2 at the latest, per the manager.

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.