The Indians get the power they were looking for with Puig and Reyes

Here are some observations from their first day in Cleveland

James Rapien
August 01, 2019 - 9:10 pm
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CLEVELAND, OH – The Indians introduced Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes on Thursday afternoon. The duo couldn't help but smile as they walked around the clubhouse and met their new teammates.

Neither player was on a winning team a few days ago. That changed quickly for Reyes and Puig, who are both thinking about the success they could have together in Cleveland.

“I know this team’s going to do a lot of damage,” Reyes said with a smile.

The 24-year-old met his wife in Eastlake when he was playing for the Class A Fort Wayne TinCaps, who were on the road to take on the Lake County Captains. That was something he thought about when he found out about the trade to the Indians.

"Cleveland is really special for me,” Reyes said. “I know I'm going to have a lot of love from this city."

Expecting to Win

Puig mentioned ‘championships’ and ‘World Series’ multiple times during his eight-minute session with the media. He knows the Indians probably won’t re-sign him when he becomes a free agent this offseason, but that doesn’t mean he can’t make the next few months count with the Indians.

“With this team, I can make my dream come true: keep going, make the playoffs again, fight in the playoffs,” Puig said. “With Houston, the Yankees, no matter who’s coming, we’re going to fight and do the best that we can, like a family and like a team, together, and win the championship, because this team has potential and good players to go to the World Series.”

Puig knows a roster that has Francisco Lindor, José Ramírez, Carlos Santana playing everyday has the talent to make a deep run in October. He also praised his new manager, who missed Thursday’s game after undergoing minor eye surgery.

“He’s an amazing manager and an amazing person and I’m excited to be on this team, be next to him and start talking to him,” Puig said. “He can help me a lot in these two or three months that I’m going to be here next to him to be a better baseball player and a person inside and outside of the baseball field.”

Desire to Improve

Reyes may have the most home runs on the team, but he knows he isn’t a finished product. There are plenty of things he can do better. He’s under team control through 2024, which means he could spend most of his prime years in Cleveland.

“I have to improve my defense, like every single day,” he said. “I know if I take my defense to my next level, I'm going to be a better player.”

At 6’5” inches tall and 275 pounds, Reyes is known for his power, but he takes pride in being able to hit the ball in any situation.

“I'm not just a power hitter,” he said. “I’m a hitter. I'm going to barrel every single pitch every single at-bat and I'm going to do damage no matter what.”

Reyes seemed genuinely excited to continue his career in Cleveland, not only for the remainder of the season, but the foreseeable future.

Supporting Cookie

Puig didn’t flinch when asked about Carlos Carrasco’s battle with leukemia. He was aware of the situation and said that he would do anything he could to help his teammate.

“I’m excited to be here next to him (Carrasco),” Puig said. “I want to meet him and say ‘good luck and everything and keep going forward because we’re like a team. I’m new here, but if you need something from me, I’m going to be here. Now he’s part of my family.”

New Energy

Adding two players like Puig and Reyes give the clubhouse an extra boost. The Indians have been scratching and clawing their way back from an 11½ game deficit in the AL Central. Even with the loss of Bauer, two young, hungry sluggers can give them the extra boost they need to get past the Twins.

“It’s a really good team,” Puig said. “I love the passion from Lindor, Santana and all the guys. It’s going to be exciting to play next to my new teammates.”

Will the trade pay off this year? A lot of that depends on the starting rotation, including the performance of Danny Salazar and the return of Corey Kluber. But, the job Chris Antonetti and Mike Chernoff have done completely revamping this lineup gives them a legitimate chance to compete for another AL Central title.

They’ve become legitimate contenders in the American League. Time will tell if they have enough talent to get the job done.