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Sports


Veterans and rookies hope for their shot at Indians spring training
WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says opening day roster might look a little different for the Tribe
by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ


Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
 
Courtesy of Jordan Bastian, Indians reporter for MLB Network
Download (WKSU Only)
Indians Spring Training:

With less than two weeks until the Indians opening day, there are a number of rookies and veterans looking for their shot. WKSU commentator Terry Pluto is in Goodyear, Arizona, where he’s checking out the Tribe this week. He says spring training offers a much different glimpse at the players --- who are all looking to impress manager Terry Francona and is his staff. 

LISTEN: Terry Pluto from Indians spring training

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Spring training is winding down for the Indians in Goodyear, Arizona. Rosters are solidifying, and while “everybody tries to look cool and not be nervous,” Pluto says everybody also knows “there’s 40-some guys looking at 25 spots, and probably 22 of them are already set.”

Uncertainty for some
Among those who aren’t set are pitchers like Frank Hermann, a 29-year-old Harvard grad with a degree in economics and a lot of friends who are nearly millionaires by now.

“But he said they all say to him, ‘Man I would trade everything to do what you’re doing’” -- even if that includes getting lit up in a few early games and likely starting the season in the minors.

Veterans learning to adapt
Then there are players like Jason Giambi, who have spent their entire adult lives in baseball. Giambi is 43 now and hurt his ribs when he got hit by a pitch on March 7.

“He was telling me that the hardest thing you have to do when you get in your late 30s is you suddenly realize you’re not going to get any better. Then you’re trying not to get any worse.” 

Then, at the end of a career, Pluto says, the question becomes: “’Can I mentally and (can) my pride go from being a guy who batted the middle of the lineup and played with the Yankees and Oakland, some really great teams, to this kind of liaison between the players and the coaches and the manager, and a part time player?’”

Pluto says Giambi’s “been able to do it, but he says a lot of his friends just couldn’t.”

Bourne suffers injury
Meanwhile, speedy outfielder Michael Bourn pulled a hamstring – the same one on which he had surgery at the end of last season – and may not be ready for opening day. Which makes room for potential replacements like 32-year-old Matt Carson, who likely never expected to get that shot.

Rookie Lindor in big camp
Pluto says the No. 1 draft pick, shortstop Francisco Lindor, will likely start in Akron. But Manager Terry Francona says his defense is already good enough for the majors, and Pluto wouldn’t be surprised to see the 20-year-old playing in the majors by the end of the season.

Pitching is a high point 
Overall, the Indians have shined this spring because of pitching.

And “that’s what’s going to make the difference for the Indians. When you’re a middle market or smaller market team -- the way Tampa Bay and Oakland win without the big payrolls and the way the Indians did the second half of last year -- you have very good starting pitching.”

Among the strengths in the rotation are Justin Masterson and Corey Kluber. John Axford, who is hoping to rebuild his career, is “throwing great” in the closer role.

And overall, says Pluto, “You need that ninth-inning guy, you need your starting rotation, and then you fill in the other pitchers in between.” 

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