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Cleveland Indians: Spring Training Information
[ April 5, 2009 at 12:40 PM ] [ ] [ Full Story ]  [ Filed under: Indians | Top ]
[ Tagged: , , ]

By Scott Sargent
Location: Goodyear, Arizona
Pitchers and Catchers Report: February 12th
First Game: February 25th
Schedule

Projected Lineup

  1. Grady Sizemore (CF)
  2. Mark DeRosa (3B)
  3. Victor Martinez (C)
  4. Jhonny Peralta (SS)
  5. Travis Hafner (DH)
  6. Shin-Soo Choo (RF)
  7. Ryan Garko (1B)
  8. Ben Francisco (LF)
  9. Asdrubal Cabrera (2B)
 

Projected Rotation

  1. Cliff Lee (LHP)
  2. Fausto Carmona (RHP)
  3. Anthony Reyes (RHP)
  4. Carl Pavano (RHP)
  5. Aaron Laffey (LHP)
 

Projected Bullpen

Closer: Kerry Wood (RHP)
RH Set-Up: Jensen Lewis (RHP)
LH Set-Up: Rafael Perez (LHP)
Situational: Rafael Betancourt (RHP), Joe Smith (RHP), Masa Kobayashi (RHP), Eduardo Mujica (RHP)

 Continue Reading


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Key Battles

Can Travis Hafner bounce back?

From raking at an MVP-caliber rate to falling off of the face of Planet Power before the ink could even dry on his incredibly lucrative contract, there is no bigger question mark among the Cleveland Indians this season than their designated hitter.  Travis Hafner came into last season after a solid spring; fans were finally able to see the hitter that they watched smack 42 home runs just two seasons prior.  But then the bottom fell out.

Hafner finished the 2008 season with splits of .197/.305/.323, with five home runs and 24 RBI in only 57 games.   Succumbing to a shoulder injury that mysteriously occurred after months of apparent struggle, Hafner made a few token at-bats during the late season.  Most was for naught as the team was playing .500 ball.

As we head into 2009, Hafner has arthroscopic surgery in the rearview mirror after plenty of rehabilitation.  His progress will be monitored closely as the team not only needs him to start hitting again, but to hit consistently during a string of multiple games.  Sure, the Indians have the depth for another DH (Ryan Garko, Kelly Shoppach and prospect Matt LaPorta could all see time this season).  However, with a mid-market payroll, the Indians can ill afford to have such underperformance from a high-paid player.

Who will land the fifth spot in the rotation?

Most of the time, the fifth starter is one that can just be given to the arm with the most upside.  However, the fifth starter for the Indians last season wound up winning the American League Cy Young Award thanks to Cliff Lee's bounce back year.  Lee is now the Tribe's ace and will firmly plant himself at the top of the rotation.

But with C.C. Sabathia and Paul Byrd no longer with the team, the Indians have a big fall-off from Lee and teammate Fausto Carmona.  The third and fourth spots will belong to Anthony Reyes and Carl Pavano.  The fifth will be decided at spring training.  We have penciled in Aaron Laffey above, but there are a few pitchers that could realistically win the spot out of camp.  Lefties Jeremy Sowers, David Huff and Scott Lewis all appear to be contenders for the Tribe rotation come April.  They are all young, but Huff has zero big league experience.  Smart money will be on Laffey as we head into Spring Training. But as we saw last season, anything can happen.

Who will land the seventh spot in the bullpen?

The biggest addition for the Indians this season is undoubtedly closer Kerry Wood.  This team has had a large gap of mediocrity since the days of Jose Mesa, and the weakness was addressed and it was handled very well.

Given a sure fire closer, the Indians will go into the season without a set roadmap in terms of what relievers will pitch in what innings.  Eric Wedge likes to play the odds and prefers using many of his pitchers in situational roles.  The addition of Joe Smith will only help this matter as he is widely considered a specialist.

But when it comes down to the seventh slot in the 'pen, the Indians will have to make a decision.  Eduardo Mujica is out of options, so if he does not make the cut, he'll have to be released.  Zach Jackson does have one option remaining, but could wind up as a second lefty and would be used predominantly in long relief.  Youngsters Adam Miller and Jon Meloan also have shots, but Miller's injury history is concerning.  The expectation is for Mujica to get the nod out of camp, but Jackson and Miller will not be in Triple-A for very long.

What to do with the team's bench players?

The addition of Mark DeRosa fills in a much-needed gap when it comes to a flexible player that can play third base and hit for power.  But his addition also means that the days of Andy Marte could be nearing an end with the team.  The fourth outfielder will undoubtedly be David Dellucci.  With the team re-signing Jamey Carroll, the other infield slot will have to come down to either Marte or second baseman Josh Barfield.

Others that have a chance to surprise coming out of camp include newly added second baseman Luis Valbuena as well as prospects Wes Hodges and the above-mentioned LaPorta.  The Tribe have historically used options to the best of their ability, so it would not surprise many if the youngsters were given consistent time in Columbus while the others attempt to prove their worth with the big boys. 

Scott covers Cleveland sports at Waiting For Next Year.



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