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Sports


Young, old and used-to-be stars look for Spring Training miracle
From Jason Giambi, 42, to rookie pitcher Trevor Bauer, the Indians have a lot to consider in Spring Training 
by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ


Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
 
Jason Giambi, 42, is among those competing for a spot on the Indians roster. To see The Plain Dealer's coverage of the Indians, go to cleveland.com/tribe
Courtesy of Chuck Crow, Plain Dealer
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Most casual baseball fans don’t give much weight to Spring Training. But, for one group of players, it means everything.

The Indians invited a few former all-stars and some young hopefuls to camp in Goodyear, Ari.

WKSU commentator Terry Pluto talks to Amanda Rabinowitz about  some surprising players competing for a spot on the Indians roster this season.

Terry Pluto commentary audio

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Pluto talks about more Spring Training hopefuls

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NFL free agency and the futures of Dawson and Cribbs

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Dozens invited to camp
Baseball locker rooms are busy places this is the time of year, with “60 guys all over the place. It’s like an airport, and the flights been delayed.”

That’s because this is Spring Training, the time when teams give a look at “guys that once upon a time were somebodies or always wanted to be somebody, and to me that’s one of the fun things about spring training.”

Former all-stars, rookies and minor leaguers hoping for a shot
The “were somebodies” in the Indians locker room this year include Daisuke Matsuzaka, also known as Dice-K – the pitcher who helped beat the Indians in the 2007 American League Championship Series.  

“Once upon a time, the Boston Red Sox paid $50 million for this guy to come from Japan.”

But Dice-K faded after 2008, and now says Pluto, “We have to pay for his interpreter and his meal money. If he makes the team then there’s a contract. But if not, it doesn’t cost anything.”

Another of the game’s big names is Jason Giambi, age 42. Manager Terry Francona likes him, but overall, “It’s the same thing. If he makes the team, he makes $750,000; if not, we just pay his meal money.”

The spirit of baseball
Spring Training underscores that “baseball to me … is a much harder game to play” than football and basketball, and takes much longer to develop. “That’s why you need four levels in the minors.”

And that’s why players hold onto hope, “why Jasen Giambi knows he’s done but he wants to play one more year.

An experienced manager guides the process
Manager Francona understands that hope. He “was talking about some of these guys and he said, ‘You walk in every day, and you are scared to death you’re playing for your baseball life.”

And sometimes, those fears are realized.

Livelihood 
“Players know a cut-down day’s coming, and sometimes you come in early just to get it over with. …  I’ve seen guys sit there and get cut and they just stare at their locker, and others just storm out. … This is not life and death, but the fact is, most of them are married, most have kids, income is involved.”

And so is getting older. Dice K’s 32. Ryan Rayburn’s 31. And they and many other may be thinking, “I only have one or two more years at this job and that’s it.”

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