Pitchers and catchers report day from across the pond

(AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

Valentine’s Day is all about showing your love and appreciation to your significant other and families, so it is appropriate the 2018 Cleveland Indians have their pitchers and catchers report on this day1 as the Tribe is extended family for many baseball fans across Northeast Ohio.

The reach of Indians fandom is not limited to the geography along the shoreline of Lake Erie though as baseball is a wondrous sport with fans across the globe.2 In such a spirit of kinship amongst our baseball-loving souls, WFNY offers you this Valentine’s Day card from across the pond.

Ash Day is an Englishman from Dorset, who started following the Indians during the 2007 season. He had picked up fandom for the Cavaliers in 20043 as he played quite a bit in school, so keeping the Cleveland connection for American sports made sense. Growing up with American movies and television helped develop a fondness for the American culture, particularly baseball. So, as he picked up blogging about various topics, it only became natural Day would gravitate towards writing about the Indians. His blog, England Tribe, has been in operation since 2013.

As such, Day provides some interesting perspective as an Indians fan outside the scope of the local point of view in the States. You’ll quickly find there are common traits as we all look forward to the return to the diamond.

Baseball, glorious baseball, is nearly upon us.

Cleveland pitchers and catchers report for their first workouts this Thursday. Jerseys will be buttoned, caps will be pulled on, and balls will be thrown in anger. Finally.

The Indians have very real ambitions of making it back to the World Series, as they did in 2016. Last year was ultimately a disappointment, a collapse at the hands of the New York Yankees in the ALDS.

Perhaps the team can use that defeat to fuel them this season.

Day goes on to highlight the Indians brightest prospect to come up through the system since Francisco Lindor. Yes, yet another Francisco, which is a fun name to say. Francisco Mejia is one potential boost to the Tribe’s long-term fortunes, but Day boldly declares that we might not have to wait so long. He goes on to describe why the Indians are toying with a transition to third base, but it will be interesting to see the battle behind the plate play out first.

Mejia will almost certainly be given an opportunity to make an impression on Francona and the big league staff this spring, and I would like to see him make the most of his opportunity. I would even go so far to say that he should be setting his sights on that starter’s spot for Opening Day, despite his relative inexperience.

The 22 year-old Mejia had a brief glimpse what life is like on the Indians roster last year when he was rewarded with a September call-up. The switch-hitter posted a .154/.214/.154 slashline, with 2 hits in 14 plate appearances. It wasn’t exactly the first impression he would have maybe liked but it would be harsh to judge him on so small a sample.

On the whole his 2017 season was largely successful. Mejia spent his entire time in the minor leagues at Double-A Akron where he slashed .297/.346/.490 with 14 home runs and 52 RBI over 383 plate appearances. A very solid season by all accounts, despite being hindered by the odd leg injury on occasion. He undoubtedly has one of the best bats among all prospects and his power numbers are on the rise each year too.

So, baseball is back. The Indians are the favorite to win the AL Central Division and return the full rotation, which has the potential to improve upon a historically great 2017 season.

Flowers, candy, and baseball. A perfect Valentine’s Day.

  1. First workouts are tomorrow. []
  2. Sorry Kyrie. []
  3. LeBron James’ reach even affects the other sports in town. []