We’re creeping closer to the beginning of the baseball season – Opening Day is in less than a month, and spring training is in full swing in Arizona. I went to Monday’s game against the Brewers in Maryvale and Tuesday’s game against the Dodgers in Glendale, and I have a few thoughts to share from both games.
Obviously you can’t put too much stock into spring training games, but there are a few observations you can gather from the various players’ performances. Here are a few of the things I happened to notice over the past two days:
- Solid, and even good, defense – Spring training is prime time for sloppiness, particularly early in March. However, the Indians looked fairly solid from a defensive standpoint; much better than the Dodgers and the Brewers. Francisco Lindor made a couple of great plays at shortstop in Monday’s game, while Lonnie Chisenhall and Collin Cowgill both had great throws from right field in Tuesday’s game. Chisenhall gunned down Joc Pederson trying to reach third, while Cowgill threw a strike to the catcher to keep a Dodgers runner at third.
- The offense looked less “blah” compared to last week – Watching games on TV last week, the offense looked somewhat bland and unexciting. It was much more exciting the past two days, as the Indians hit multiple home runs (Collin Cowgill and Mike Napoli on Monday, Jose Ramirez and Geovanny Urshela on Tuesday). Rajai Davis knocked in a pair, and Carlos Santana and Geovanny Urshela each doubled in Tuesday’s game.
- Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar looked good – Granted, these are very brief appearances (2-3 innings) but both Carrasco and Salazar looked good. The Brewers looked completely off balance against Carrasco, and the minute he left the game, their bats seemed to come to life against Cody Anderson.
- Bullpen competition – There are a few bullpen spots up for grabs, and a number of non-roster invitees hoping to win a spot on the 25-man roster. One of those, Joba Chamberlain, pitched today and gave up a three-run home run. He didn’t appear to be fooling many of the Dodgers hitters, but managed to get out of the inning without any further damage. I joked that if he makes the team, we can look forward to six more months (or until he gets released) of “durrr bugs, you had bugs around you one time, what about those bugs? (insert bad bug joke here)”
- The outfield competition – The Indians essentially plan to start the season with a full outfield of fourth outfielders until Michael Brantley’s return. Obviously, Rajai Davis is the best of those options, and outside of injury will definitely be on the Opening Day roster. With Abraham Almonte’s PED suspension, that leaves the last spots to some combination of Lonnie Chisenhall, Collin Cowgill, Joey Butler, Shane Robinson, and Will Venable. I like Chisenhall strictly for his defense, and am willing to tolerate iffy offense for a little while. I was unimpressed when they acquired Cowgill, and figured he was this year’s version of J.B. Shuck. However, I like what I’ve seen so far, and think he could end up winning a roster spot.
Those are my primary thoughts from the past two days. I’ll try to get a few more things up while I’m here in Arizona. In the meantime, here are a few pictures from Tuesday’s action in Glendale: