Indians outfielder Jordan Luplow hopes to stick this time

The 25-year-old is determined to show he belongs

James Rapien
May 07, 2019 - 12:15 am
Mar 7, 2019; Salt River Pima-Maricopa, AZ, USA; Cleveland Indians left fielder Jordan Luplow (8) singles in the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Categories: 

Cleveland, Ohio, (92.3 The Fan) – The Indians entered this season with an outfield full of question marks. They hoped their mix of prospects and veterans would blend together to give them a nice mix of youth and experience in the outfield. 

One of those players is 25-year-old Jordan Luplow. He began the season on the Major League roster, but was sent to Triple-A Columbus on April 13 following a rough start to his Indians career. Luplow had a .200 batting average in seven games before he was sent down.

He responded well with the Clippers, posting a .353/.476/.618 slash line in nine games.

“I just feel like I got my legs underneath me a little bit. I got to play everyday, experiment with things,” Luplow said. “Get back to being me and figure out what I needed to do and how I needed to feel and what my body needed to go through to get comfortable. And getting a little confidence is always a plus. I’m definitely more comfortable this time around.”

He showed enough for the Indians to bring him back on April 28.

There were moans and groans from a fan base that wants to see outfielder Oscar Mercado in the big leagues. That has led some to completely rule out the idea that Luplow could be a part of the future. He only has 199 career at-bats.

“At every level it took a little time to adjust and figure out what these guys are trying to do and how they pitch,” Luplow said. “I’m starting to feel a little more comfortable. I think I’m a threat every time I step in the box to put one up on the board. I can also take that nice little base hit the other way if I need to. I’m just trying to be the complete player out there and help these guys win ball games.”

Luplow has flashed some of that potential over the past week. He has a .286 batting average (4-for-14) since returning to Cleveland with two doubles, three walks and a .412 on-base percentage. He admits getting sent to Columbus was a good thing.

“I got to take a step back and find out what I need to do everyday to go out there and perform. I was trying to do a little more than I needed to and that put me in some bad spots, whether it was defensively or offensively.

“Just come down here and be myself and I think that’ll be plenty good enough.”

Luplow can start in all three outfield spots. He made two catches in center field on Monday night that some players would've struggled to get to. He made them look routine.

The most impressive play of Luplow’s short Indians’ tenure might’ve been in Friday’s win over Seattle. He raced over from right field to help Leonys Martin, who dove into the center field wall while attempting to catch Tim Beckham’s fly ball. Luplow was right where he needed to be and made a perfect relay throw to get Beckham out at third.

“That was a huge throw, especially to start the inning,” Shane Bieber said after the game. “A leadoff triple would change the game and who knows what happens after that? Really, the gravity of that throw and that play was huge, to be able to allow those hits right there. I didn’t feel like anything was different. If anything, it allowed me to go out there and attack more.”

Those are the type of plays that earn the respect of everyone in the clubhouse. Manager Terry Francona praised him after the game as well. If Luplow’s going to stick in the big leagues, those are the plays he needs to make, even if they don't show up in the box score. 

“It’s just little things like that that people don’t see in the game that can play a role in whether you win or lose,” Luplow said.

Proving himself isn’t going to be easy. Luplow is competing for playing time with young players like Jake Bauers and Tyler Naquin who are also hoping to carve out a permanent role on this team. He also has established veterans like Carlos Gonzalez and Leonys Martin expecting to play on a regular basis.  

Luplow isn’t worried about playing time. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to stay in the big leagues.

“I’m just here taking it one day at a time, just loving being here,” he said. “Whether I’m starting or coming off the bench, I don’t even care, it’s just good to be up here and be with these guys and play under this staff.”

Earning a spot on the roster is one thing. Luplow has done that twice. Now he needs to give the Indians a reason to keep him around.

Luplow had his struggles early in the season, but he’s moved past them. He went from one of the new guys in the clubhouse, to one of the guys.

He’s determined to show his teammates, the Indians’ organization and the fans that he can be a part of the future.

“I’m going to come with that blue-collar mentality. I’m going to grind out at-bats. I’m going to grind out defense. I’m going to backup bases. Hopefully I'll stretch singles into doubles and steal a few bags. I just think they’re going to see a hardworking guy out there.”