I know that these games don’t count. I know that it’s tough to make any kind of legitimate observations based upon three spring training games in late February. But you know what? I. DON’T. CARE. Players still put on uniforms, announcers start talking about people being “in the best shape of their lives,” and you can see actual grass – not just a sea of blinding whiteness. And you can kick off discussions about who looks good, and who may make the team. So let’s talk about the first three spring training games and what happened to stick out as the Indians took on the Reds three different times in Goodyear.
They typically say that the pitchers are ahead of the hitters this early in spring training. So you’re more likely to see shut-down innings, or low scoring games, than you may be later in March. As far as confirmed members of the starting rotation, Zach McAllister had a good day today as he retired six of the seven batters he faced. Yesterday, Justin Masterson pitched a scoreless inning to start the game. With pitchers in the mix for a starting spot, Trevor Bauer pitched the first frame of the spring opener on Wednesday. He managed to dance out of trouble, and had some command issues. Although with a bad inning in spring training, you can never tell if it’s just a random bad inning because it’s early in spring training, or if the coaches happen to be experimenting with new or readjusted pitches. Aaron Harang, a non-roster invitee battling for the fifth spot in the rotation, pitched a scoreless inning after Bauer left the game. Josh Tomlin pitched two scoreless innings today, while Carlos Carrasco pitched two scoreless innings yesterday.
There were some solid pitching performances today from potential bullpen guys – nine shutout innings from Indians pitchers. The Indians also had some good pitching performances yesterday, as David Aardsma, Josh Outman, Blake Wood and Tyler Cloyd all pitched scoreless innings. In fact, in yesterday’s game Indians pitchers issued just three free passes to batters.
The offense was a bit quiet right out of the gate on Wednesday, but the Indians lit up Goodyear Ballpark yesterday. Minor league catcher Jake Lowery (he spent last season in Carolina and Akron) hit a grand slam for the Tribe, while Elliot Johnson and Tyler Naquin each hit two-run homers. Non-roster invitee Nyjer Morgan had two RBI during the game as well. Ryan Raburn went deep today with a two-run shot off of Homer Bailey. (I was watching the MLB Network earlier and they jokingly said that if there was a spring training Hall of Fame, it would include Raburn). Even though there aren’t a lot of offensive slots open on the roster for the regular season, Morgan and Johnson have an outside chance of making the team. Someone that’s been fun to watch the past couple of days is Carlos Moncrief. The pitcher-turned-outfielder isn’t in the mix to make the 25-man roster for the regular season…he’ll almost definitely be heading to the minors. He’s done a nice job at the plate, and in the field as well – in fact, he got a bit of notoriety this week after a good catch against an advertisement for kitchens. He’s crashing straight into your granite countertops (I really need to stop watching HGTV, if that’s the first thing I’m noticing).
The Indians head to Camelback Ranch (still not a strip club) tomorrow to take on the White Sox. The game will be on WTAM and MLB.com at 3:05 if you’d like to tune in and catch some Cactus League action. Aaron Harang will start for the Tribe, while John Danks will take the mound for the White Sox. So far the Indians are 2-1; they lost to the Reds 8-3 on Wednesday, won yesterday 12-3, and won today 4-0.