Indians Notes: Lindor optimism, Bauers' potential and Santana's return

Position players report to Goodyear on Saturday

James Rapien
February 16, 2019 - 9:14 am
Oct 8, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) celebrates a play with left fielder Michael Brantley (23) third inning against the Houston Astros during game three of the 2018 ALDS playoff baseball series at Progressive

© Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Categories: 

Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – The Indians continue to prepare for the 2019 season with position players reporting for spring training in Goodyear on Saturday.

Shortstop Francisco Lindor showed up ahead of schedule. The Indians hope that trend continues over the next few months.

Lindor is expected to be out 7-to-9 weeks after suffering a calf strain, which would put his status for the start of the season in doubt.

"I know they put a timetable and it's probably not fair," manager Terry Francona said. "I'm betting on the under, just knowing Frankie. He's such in good shape – he's young, he works. He'll be fine."

The Indians’ lineup is weaker than it was a season ago. Their margin for error isn’t what it once was, which means they need their stars to stay healthy. Lindor, 25, was fourth in MLB Network’s top 100 ranking. It would be a huge boost if he could return in time for the start of the regular season, but the Indians aren’t going to rush him back. Francona said Lindor would be doing “a ton” in Goodyear, but won’t participate in baseball activities until he’s healthy. Yu Chang, Eric Stamets, Max Moroff and Tyler Freeman are all expected to fill-in at shortstop during spring training.

Praising Bauers

The Indians are extremely excited about first baseman Jake Bauers. They acquired the 23-year-old this offseason in a trade with Tampa Bay.

“He looks like he has a chance to be an above-average first baseman,” Francona said. “I think he’s athletic enough that you can move him to the outfield – as he’s already proven. That’s where we need to look at our team and break it down and say, ‘where are we the strongest? Are we strongest playing him at first base? Are we the strongest asking guys to do both?’ We don’t know that yet.”

The Indians’ outfield would get a huge boost if Bauers shows he can play in one of the corners. He spent 20 combined games in left and right field last season with the Rays. At the plate, Bauers hit .239/.350/.477 with 9 home runs in his first 234 plate appearances in the big leagues. Then, he hit a slump in August and didn’t recover. Bauers finished the 2018 season with a .210 average, 11 home runs and 48 RBI.

The Indians would get a huge boost if he could add power to the lineup and give Francona another option in the outfield. They cut salary this offseason and got younger. This team needs a few of their new faces to exceed expectations and Bauers is at the top of the list. 

Santana’s Return

Carlos Santana averaged 24 home runs and 81 RBI with the Indians from 2011-2017. He was durable over that span, playing in at least 143 games per season. The veteran spent last season in Philadelphia, but is excited to return home.

“I think he’s happy to be back,” Francona said. “He was gone for a year and we’ve made some changes, but the coaching staff is the same. I think he was excited to be back. He sat in my office for probably 20-30 minutes yesterday and it was fun to just sit and talk to him.”

Santana is projected to be the Indians’ designated hitter. If Bauers proves he can play in the outfield, then Santana can start at first base, which would be ideal.

Bringing Santana back didn’t get many fans excited this offseason, but he wants to be in Cleveland, has been consistent and should continue to be a dangerous bat in the lineup.

Zimmer is ‘knocking it out of the park’

Outfielder Bradley Zimmer is ahead of schedule after having surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder last July. He took batting practice on Friday, which is a good sign.

"Guys who are coming back from injury, you hate to put timetables on because it's just not fair to them," Francona said. "I'd be comfortable saying he is kind of knocking it out of the park. He's really gotten after it, he's doing really well, he's coming quick. He's got a ways to go, but he's done a terrific job."

Zimmer, 26, posted a .237 average with 10 home runs and 48 RBI in 405 career plate appearances. He started in center field on opening day last season. If he can get healthy, then there’s a chance he could battle Greg Allen, Leonys Martin and others for one of the three starting spots.