The Cleveland Indians have had quite the offseason, from free agents departing to players recovering from injuries. Our commentator Terry Pluto is in Goodyear, Arizona this week with the team for spring training, and he says there's still a lot of unanswered questions about the lineup for this season.
Pluto says he usually heads to training knowing what the Indians' roster is, but this year is a bit different; it's still a mystery as to who the outfielders will be.
What about the outfield?
“They got a bunch of guys, that’s what they got in the outfield," Pluto says. "So I wanna see these guys and see if any of them can play.”
He predicts that Tyler Naquin will play right field, Jake Bauers will take over left field and Leonys Martin will play center. Martin left three games after joining Cleveland last year to battle a life-threatening bacterial illness, but Pluto says he's impressed with him so far.
Although the outfielders haven't been finalized, he says it might not affect the team's record this season. Pluto says a prime example is when the team last went to the World Series in 2016.
"(The Indians) played 12 guys out there that year, and they basically never had a really good outfield, but they made the World Series despite of that.”
The key players to look for
Pluto says a major comeback from Hanley Ramirez could create a strong shift in the lineup. Ramirez played for the Boston Red Sox in 2018, and started out the season strong that year. But he quickly fell into a slump, eventually landing him in a minor league contract with the Indians.
The Indians wanted him because Ramirez is a strong hitter against left-handed pitchers, but as of right now, he remains a DH.
He also thinks the comeback of shortstop Franciso Lindor would help the team monumentally, but he says Lindor's recovery from his calf injury shouldn't be rushed.
"What they don't need is for Lindor to have a reoccuring injury," Pluto says.
The season outlook
Although the lineup is scattered, Pluto says Indians fans shouldn't be worried.
“Now the great thing, if you’re Indians fan, when you talk about a starting rotation of Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Corey Kluber, Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber that’s the best that anybody has.”
But he says some players need to come up with some results, or "(they're) going to be cut or (they're) going to be seeing a lot of Columbus."