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Lindor, Zimmer see first spring game action

@castrovince
March 13, 2019

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- A fierce wind was whipping across the back fields of the Indians’ Player Development Complex, and there was perceptible movement with regard to the statuses of Francisco Lindor and Bradley Zimmer, too. Lindor and Zimmer have made serious strides in their recoveries from their respective injuries (a

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- A fierce wind was whipping across the back fields of the Indians’ Player Development Complex, and there was perceptible movement with regard to the statuses of Francisco Lindor and Bradley Zimmer, too.

Lindor and Zimmer have made serious strides in their recoveries from their respective injuries (a right calf strain for Lindor, a right labrum repair for Zimmer), and they both took another significant step forward by playing in a Triple-A game against the Dodgers on Wednesday. They each had three plate appearances in their first game action of the spring. Lindor went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, and Zimmer went 0-for-1 with two walks. Lindor, who was instructed not to accelerate beyond a jog, played three innings in the field at short and didn’t have any balls hit to him. Zimmer served solely as a DH.

“I knew I wasn’t going to go 100 percent, but I just went out there and played the game,” Lindor said. “I’m happy, I’m blessed. Today is a successful day. Check the box.”

Though Lindor’s initial return-to-play timetable put his Opening Day status in doubt, his progress at least keeps him in the conversation for the initial roster.

“I’m not worried about Opening Day,” he said. “I’m more worried about the rest of the season and making it to the playoffs. That’s what we want. We want to make it to the postseason and win.”

General manager Mike Chernoff said the club is pleased with its alternate options should Lindor need more time to build up to nine innings after camp breaks.

“We have some internal guys and external guys,” Chernoff said. “It’s been really fun watching our young guys. Seeing Eric Stamets out there playing defense, he has a special glove out there. Even some of our other young guys like Ernie Clement, Mark Mathias, just some of these infielders, Yu Chang, guys that have come up have really impressed us in camp. We have to make a decision. If Frankie is not going to be on the Opening Day roster, we obviously have a decision to make about who is going to be our shortstop on Opening Day.

"We’ll work through those as we get through camp. But between our young guys and some of the veterans like Ryan Flaherty, it feels like we have good options in here to cover us.”

Zimmer came to camp confident that he was capable of finishing on the short side of his initial 8-to-12-month return-to-play timetable after his shoulder surgery last July, and so far, he has lived up to that.

“I told everybody I was going to be ready, and here I am,” Zimmer said. “I’ve been working my [butt] off the whole offseason up to this point to be able to play and get going now. I’m ready.”

It was not immediately known what the next step will be for each player.

Tribe still evaluating Hanley
Hanley Ramirez's roster status is the fulcrum around which so much of the Indians’ initial lineup will operate. If Ramirez makes the team as the designated hitter, it affects the composition of the infield and outfield, as Carlos Santana will likely be the main man at first base and Jake Bauers will see ample time in left field.

So, is Hanley going to make the club? It goes without saying that we’ll find out in the next two weeks. But for Ramirez, the last half of the exhibition schedule is especially meaningful, given that he was absent for the second half of 2018 and was a late arrival to camp on a Minor League deal. It’s hard to know what, if anything, to make of Ramirez’s 4-for-18 showing at the plate in Cactus League play, though he did rip a two-run single in Wednesday’s 9-3 win over the Brewers.

More important are the particulars.

“We all know what Hanley can be,” Chernoff said. “We want to see the best of him here. I think we’ll take the next 10 to 14 days -- obviously he was a late arrival -- take the next two weeks and see how that plays out before we make any decisions. At the same time, he’s been great having around in camp, he’s been very diligent with his work and you can see, whether the results are there or not, you can see the bat speed is there. It looks like the old Hanley in a lot of ways.”

Ramirez said he wants the opportunity to win a ring and help the Indians attain a quality that has eluded them in recent postseason play.

"Just finish,” he said. “It’s about finishing the job.”

Up next
Shane Bieber, who has had a strong camp with the addition of a new changeup, will get the 4:05 p.m. ET start opposite Jeff Hoffman and the Rockies on Thursday at Goodyear Ballpark.

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.