Bieber arrival delayed by positive COVID test

Former closer Allen retires; players react to Lindor blockbuster

February 18th, 2021

CLEVELAND -- Pitchers and catchers have started their workouts at Spring Training, but there are still a few faces that haven’t reported to Indians camp just yet, including the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, .

Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said on Thursday that Bieber will be joining camp a few days late after Bieber tested positive for COVID-19.

“[Bieber] in the process of working through the return protocols,” Antonetti said. "He has very, very mild symptoms. In fact, they were barely noticeable, and like I said, he's working through the protocols to return. We expect him to get back to the complex at some point within the next few days.”

Oliver Pérez will need a few days to get to Arizona after signing a Minor League deal with the Tribe on Thursday, and Antonetti said that prospect Nick Sandlin and reliever James Karinchak are still waiting to either take or clear the intake testing process.

Bieber had been working out at the Tribe’s Spring Training complex in Goodyear, Ariz., prior to testing positive, but Antonetti said he wasn’t permitted to reveal the details of when Bieber received the positive test results.

“During that time [that he’s been isolated], he's continued his preparation for Spring Training and has been able to do that,” Antonetti said. “We've tried to support him remotely as best we can.”

Assuming Bieber's able to return to camp in the next few days, this won’t be a setback for the Indians’ ace. The 25-year-old is expected to once again lead the club's young rotation throughout the 2021 season.

Bieber won the MLB Triple Crown last year, besting all hurlers in wins (eight), strikeouts (122) and ERA (1.63). After a season of that caliber, what did the Indians suggest he work on over the offseason?

“With Shane, first and foremost, is just setting that great foundation that he does every winter coming into Spring Training and be positioned to absorb a workload,” Antonetti said. “And hopefully this year, that's 200-plus innings of really high-quality performance. And Shane, to his credit, one of the things that continues to separate him out, is the way in which he attacks his work and prepares for a season. So he did that again this offseason and spent quite a bit of time actually working out at our Goodyear complex over the winter.”

Indians’ all-time saves leader retires
Cody Allen retired from baseball on Wednesday afternoon. The right-hander spent seven years in Cleveland (2012-18), where he racked up a franchise-record 149 saves. He was dominant throughout the Tribe’s postseason run in '16, tossing 13 2/3 scoreless frames with 24 strikeouts and five walks.

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In 2019, Allen joined the Angels and pitched to a 6.26 ERA in 25 appearances. He signed Minor League deals with both the Rangers and the Cubs in '20, but he never made it back up to the big league level before announcing his retirement.

“I was really happy for him,” Indians hurler Adam Plutko said. “He really likes working on his ranch. He's got, I think, a bull factory with Bryan Shaw and Beau Mills, so I know he's going to be wearing a cowboy hat and cowboy boots every single day.

“What a guy to have impacted me and my career. Immediately, I was really thankful, because I had first met Cody in 2014 when I had first moved to Dallas and he had moved to Dallas, and he was always awesome to me as a Minor League player before I even impacted the Cleveland Indians. I'm really excited for him and his wife, Mallory, and the two of them to just raise their kids. I know he's going to be out on the ranch every day and doing what he really wants to do, so that's exciting for him.”

Reaction to this winter’s blockbuster trade
For the first time since the Indians shipped Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco to the Mets in exchange for Amed Rosario, Andrés Giménez and two prospects, members of the Tribe’s roster voiced their opinions of the move on a Zoom call with local media on Thursday. And the message was almost identical from each player: It was difficult to see close teammates go, but it’s now time to focus on the future.

“I was sad to lose friends,” Plutko said. “But if I believed for a second that who I walked into this game with, I was going to play my entire career with, I'm a fool if I believe that. That's how the game works. We can talk about who we don't have, but I'd rather talk about who we do have. And Eddie Rosario [signed to a one-year deal] is a guy that's just abused us over the years. Now, he's on our team. That's exciting for me.”

The Indians have gone through this process before. They’ve parted ways with players like Cliff Lee, CC Sabathia, Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger, and most recently, Lindor and Carrasco.

“It's not just the Cleveland Indians, it happens to every team,” Indians pitching coach Carl Willis said. “I think there's probably not a team in baseball [that] they could just roll out of bed the next day and replace Frankie Lindor. And I don't think we can roll out of bed and replace Carlos Carrasco, the pitcher and the person. That's hard to do. But at the end of the day, you work with what you have. I think that our front office did a really good job of getting talent back, guys that can help our club go out compete and give us a chance to win games. So you move on, and always, you miss those guys.”