It seems like yesterday that the Cleveland Indians suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Chicago Cubs in Game 7 of the World Series. While their final game of the 2016 season was just a short three months ago, the 2017 season has begun—it started on Sunday, actually. Although many players have been at the Indians’ Spring Training headquarters in Goodyear, Arizona for the past few weeks, Sunday was the mandatory day that pitchers and catchers had to report, with their first mandatory workouts set to begin on Tuesday.
Just one win away from bringing The Land their second major sports championship in five months after the city was starved of one for 52 years, the Indians (somehow) got even better while the rest of the American League Central division got worse heading into the upcoming season.
While the Party at Napoli’s may have come to an end, with Mike Napoli heading back to Arlington to join the Texas Rangers on a one-year deal, the Indians signed the best hitter on the free agent market, Edwin Encarnacion, and one of the best bullpen arms on the market, Boone Logan. Yes, Cleveland, you weren’t the only ones who thought the Indians would open up their check books that much, even general manager Chris Antonetti was surprised by the two signings.
In previous years, many questions were raised heading into Spring Training. Who was the Indians’ fourth and fifth starters in the starting rotation? Will they ever get a legitimate right-handed power bat? Who’s the team’s best arms in the bullpen?
In 2017, many of these questions have been answered. The Indians are one of the best teams in the MLB and there seem to be just two questions heading into Spring Training this time around: When, if at all, will Michael Brantley be fully healthy? What’s the center fielder situation?
This Spring Training will be different than the previous three. The World Baseball Classic takes place every four years and 2017 happens to be one of them. It starts on March 6, with the championship set for March 22 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. For you Omar Vizquel fans, the former Indian great will coach Venezuela in the event. Eleven Indians will participate in the classic:
- P Andrew Miller, Team USA
- SS Francisco Lindor, Puerto Rico
- C Roberto Perez, Puerto Rico
- P Joe Colon, Puerto Rico
- 1B Carlos Santana, Dominican Republic
- 3B Giovanny Urshela, Colombia
- 1B Chris Colabello, Italy
- P Luis Lugo, Isreal
- IF Tyler Krieger, Israel
- P Ping-Hsueh Chen, China
- Shao-Ching Chang, China
While pitchers and catchers reported on Sunday, with their first workout set for Tuesday, position players will report on Thursday, with their first workout set for Saturday.
It may not feel like spring, but with pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training on Monday, it’s beginning to smell a lot like baseball, Progressive Field, hot dogs, peanuts, and a lot of (winning) baseball. Welcome back, Indians.