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Lots of expectations -- and questions -- at Indians spring training
Commentator Terry Pluto says expectations are high in Goodyear and there are lots of players and positions to sort out
by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ


Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
 
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The Cleveland Indians are in Goodyear, Ariz., where they begin Cactus League play this week. The schedule includes 30 games and opens with three consecutive contests Wednesday through Friday against the Reds at Goodyear Ballpark. WKSU commentator Terry Pluto is spending the week in Goodyear scouting the club.
LISTEN: Terry Pluto from Goodyear, Az.

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Terry Pluto is making two trips to spring training for the Plain Dealer this season. He's there this week and will return again next month.

“Anybody who cares about baseball at all should always make at least one trip to spring training,” he says. 

Pluto says a lot of what you see during the first week or two is players running sprints, playing catch and taking batting practice. "They've been waiting two weeks to just play an exhibition game this week."

Priming the pitching
“A big problem is the pitchers need six weeks while hitters need about three weeks. They’re like fragile thoroughbred horses. They have to build up their arm strength and throw so many pitches.”

Pluto is anxious to see how Trevor Bauer performs during spring training. "He was one of their prized prospects they traded for a year ago. He’s spent about two years reworking his wind-up and sending the Indians video.”

Another "fragile" arm is an veteran reliever, Matt Capps. The Indians signed him to a minor league deal in January, 2013. He was assigned to Triple-A Columbus, where he pitched in six games before going on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. In June, he underwent surgery, ending his season. Last October, the team signed him to a second minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.

"After his first bullpen session, his shoulder hurt and now he’s out three or four weeks."

Altogether, the Indians have about 20 relievers to sort through.

Spring training stories
Pluto also likes some of the interesting stories that emerge from spring training because he gets to spend more time with the players than during the regular season.

“The other day I talked to pitcher Corey Kluber for about a half hour. At this point a year ago, nobody was talking about him at all. He went on to win 11 games in 2013. In fact, he didn’t want anybody to know how he hurt his knee in the offseason [prior to the 2013 season]. He was bending over to change the diaper on his 8-month-old daughter and he felt his knee pop. And then he needed surgery on that."

Another story to watch at spring training is a competition brewing at third base. Catcher Carlos Santana will likely see some time at third along with 2013 regular third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall. Santana spent a month playing third base in winter ball. Both have said they expect to hold the position. 

Expectations
Last October, the Indians made their first trip to the playoffs since 2007, losing to Tampa Bay in the wild card game. Terry Pluto says that's created even bigger expectations this season. 

"The feel here is so much different. I think a year ago, yes, they signed Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn, but they also lost 96 games [in 2012]. And they thought if that team can get around .500, we’d all be happy.

But after this past season where they’re 92-70, I think contention is expected and they’re talking about going to the playoffs. This is the first time in a while there’s been a lot of expectations around the team."

 
Cleveland Indians Spring Training Schedule:
  • Feb 26th Wed  Reds at Indians @ 1:05  Goodyear Ballpark
  • Feb 27th Thu  Indians at Reds @ 1:05 Goodyear Ballpark
  • Feb 28th Fri Reds at Indians @ 1:05 Goodyear Ballpark
  • Mar 1st Sat Indians at WHITE SOX @ 1:05 Camelback Ranch
  • Mar 2nd Sun Mariners at INDIANS @ 1:05 Goodyear Ballpark
  • Mar 3rd Mon Indians at RANGERS @ 1:05 Surprise Recreation Campus
  • Mar 4th Tue White Sox at INDIANS @ 1:05 Goodyear Ballpark
  • Mar 5th Wed Indians at MARINERS @ 1:05 Peoria Sports Complex
  • Mar 6th Thu Cubs at INDIANS @ 1:05 Goodyear Ballpark
  • Mar 7th Fri Indians at CUBS* @ 1:05 Cubs Park
  • Mar 8th Sat Indians at PADRES @ 1:05 Peoria Sports Complex
  • Mar 9th Sun Brewers* at INDIANS @ 1:05 Goodyear Ballpark
  • Mar 10th Mon Angels at INDIANS @ 1:05 Goodyear Ballpark
  • Mar 11th Tue Indians at DIAMONDBACKS @ 1:05 Salt River Fields
  • Mar 12th Wed Padres at INDIANS @ 1:05 Goodyear Ballpark
  • Mar 13th Thu Royals at INDIANS @ 1:05 Goodyear Ballpark
  • Mar 14th Fri Indians at WHITE SOX @ 1:05 Camelback Ranch
  • Mar 15th Sat Diamondbacks at INDIANS @ 1:05 Goodyear Ballpark
  • Mar 16th Sun Indians* at CUBS* @ 1:05 Cubs Park
  • Mar 16th Sun Indians* at GIANTS @ 1:05 Scottsdale Stadium
  • Mar 17th Mon Indians at REDS @ 1:05 Salt River Fields
  • Mar 18th Tue Giants at INDIANS @ 7:05 Goodyear Ballpark
  • Mar 19th Wed Athletics at INDIANS @ 1:05 Goodyear Ballpark
  • Mar 21st Fri Indians at ROCKIES @ 1:05 Salt River Fields
  • Mar 22nd Sat Rockies* at INDIANS @ 1:05 Goodyear Ballpark
  • Mar 23rd Sun Indians at ANGELS @ 1:05 Tempe Diablo Stadium
  • Mar 24th Mon Indians at REDS @ 1:05 Goodyear Ballpark
  • Mar 25th Tue Rangers at INDIANS @ 1:05 Goodyear Ballpark
  • Mar 26th Wed Brewers at INDIANS @ 1:05 Goodyear Ballpark
  • Mar 27th Thu Indians at DIAMONDBACKS* @ 1:05 Salt River Fields
  • Mar 28th Fri Indians at PADRES @ 6:40 Univ of San Diego
  • Mar 29th Sat Indians at PADRES @ 1:05 Univ of San Diego
*split squad 

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