Encarnacion to debut in Tribe's Cactus opener

Encarnacion to debut in Tribe's Cactus opener

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The goal for Edwin Encarnacion during his first two weeks of camp was to get to know his new Indians teammates and become comfortable with his change of scenery. On the eve of Cleveland's first Cactus League game, Encarnacion has been impressed with the atmosphere around the Tribe.

"This team, they are together," Encarnacion said on Friday. "Everybody is together. They are one team. That's a difference you see in other teams sometimes. Here, everybody is together. The American guys, Latin guys. it's all one. That's a big difference from other teams."

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

'Dr. Smooth is back,' but still on a short leash

Brantley looks sharp during rehab BP; Indians remain cautious

'Dr. Smooth is back,' but still on a short leash

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The repeated sound of baseballs meeting bats is a part of the Spring Training environment each morning. In the early hours of the Indians' workout on Friday, the cacophony coming from the indoor batting cage at Cleveland's complex came with increased signficance.

Inside the batting tunnel stood Michael Brantley, who took a series of normal batting practice swings and sprayed baseballs to the back of the black netting. One of the Tribe's athletic trainers looked on, as did hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo. After the hitting session, Van Burkleo cracked a smile when asked how Brantley's swing looked.

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Lefty Logan strives to bring balance to bullpen

Lefty Logan strives to bring balance to bullpen

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Boone Logan was openly pulling for the Indians when he watched the World Series last fall.

Over the past three years with the Rockies, Logan grew to dislike the Cubs. The veteran left-hander said he has nothing against Chicago as a city. He added that he does not have any issues with any individual Cubs players, either. The distaste for the Cubs has nothing to do with the team's history or ballpark. Logan laughed as he tried to find an answer for something he decided lacks a concrete explanation.

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Almonte enters camp with clean slate

Outfielder pleased with how Indians handled 2016 suspension

Almonte enters camp with clean slate

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Abraham Almonte was on the edge of his seat during Game 7 of the World Series. That seat was in the stands at Progressive Field, where the Indians outfielder was among the fans. Almonte was the only member of the Cleveland crowd who was pulling for teammates, not just players.

Ineligibility for the postseason was part of the price Almonte paid for the suspension he received last spring for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. When Almonte had his one-on-one meeting at the outset of Spring Training this year, Indians manager Terry Francona made it clear that the outfielder arrived at camp with his record wiped clean in the eyes of the Indians.

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Lindor shows off 'pancake' glove

Gold Glove winner says practice mitt helps fielding focus, footwork

Lindor shows off 'pancake' glove

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Francisco Lindor has been heading out to the practice diamonds with a pair of gloves every morning at Indians camp this spring. In doing so, he has provided a glimpse into why the young shortstop captured both a Gold Glove and Platinum Glove for his defensive work last season.

Lindor takes his normal shortstop glove, but also carries a thinner training glove with him for taking ground balls. The flat glove -- also known as a pancake glove -- has no pocket, forcing Lindor to concentrate on a few things as the ball skips his way. He is focusing mostly on his footwork, but also on keeping his sights on the baseball until it meets his hands.

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Indians boast two catchers capable of starting

Team's pitching staff has a good rapport with both Gomes, Perez

Indians boast two catchers capable of starting

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians feel fortunate to have a pair of catchers who are both capable of serving as a starting option in the big leagues. Given that situation, Roberto Perez will be considered the backup to Yan Gomes only in title. Perez will see his fair share of time behind the plate this season.

"We value Roberto a lot, and we're not going to let him sit," Indians manager Terry Francona said Thursday. "So you'll see him play earlier than maybe he has in the past, or something like that. We won't be as cautious in pinch-running, because we know we have a very good defensive catcher, whichever one we go to. Things like that."

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Merritt gets ball first in early Indians spring rotation

ALCS surprise star will start Saturday vs. Reds; Salazar, Carrasco, Clevinger, Bauer up next

Merritt gets ball first in early Indians spring rotation

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Ryan Merritt pitched himself into Indians lore during the 2016 postseason, taking the ball in the American League Championship Series and helping push Cleveland into the World Series with a brilliant performance in Toronto. It was a whirlwind October for the lefty, who arrived to Tribe camp this spring with a sudden wealth of experience.

The stage will be much smaller on Saturday -- and the crowd not nearly as raucous as Rogers Centre during Game 5 of the ALCS -- but Merritt is nonetheless excited about his next start for the Indians. The left-hander will take the ball for the Tribe in its Cactus League opener against the Reds at Goodyear Ballpark.

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Francona's health will determine how long he manages Tribe

Francona's health will determine how long he manages Tribe

PHOENIX -- In four years at the helm, manager Terry Francona has guided the Indians to two postseason appearances and one American League pennant. Based on what they have on their current roster, the Indians are expected to go deep in the postseason again this October.

Francona, 57, has entered his 17th season as a manager. When asked if he might have at least 15 more years in the tank, Francona wasn't so sure.

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Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002 and does a podcast, Newsmakers. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Santana willing to play outfield again if needed

Tribe plans to keep veteran at first base and DH

Santana willing to play outfield again if needed

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Carlos Santana has shown an increased willingness to do whatever Indians manager Terry Francona asks of him. That included starting in left field for a pair of games in last year's World Series, due to not having the designated hitter available in Wrigley Field.

This spring, Santana has let Francona know he is still willing to play the outfield, if asked.

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Francona fine with rule change for intentional walks

Francona fine with rule change for intentional walks

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians manager Terry Francona is fine with holding up four fingers, rather than watching four pitches. If MLB opts to allow managers to signal for an intentional walk without requiring the pitcher to throw four balls, count Francona among the supporters of the rule change.

"I'm OK with it. It doesn't seem like that big of a deal," Francona said on Wednesday. "If you're going to dig your heels in over something, I'm not sure this would be it for me."

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Breaking down the Indians' Top 30 Prospects

Cleveland expects to get plenty of help from farmhands in 2017

Breaking down the Indians' Top 30 Prospects

The Indians came within one win of ending the franchise's 68-year World Series drought in 2016, ultimately falling to the Cubs in extra innings in Game 7 of the Fall Classic.

But while their season may have ended in disappointment, it was still a banner season for the Tribe, which won 94 games, the second most in the American League, en route to its first division title since 2007 and the team's first pennant since 1997.

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Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Indians out to end MLB's longest World Series drought

Cleveland hasn't won Fall Classic since '48; 8 of 14 expansion clubs yet to win

Indians out to end MLB's longest World Series drought

On the visiting side at Progressive Field last Nov. 2, the Cubs celebrated the end of a 107-season World Series championship drought, the longest in Major League history.

On the home side, meanwhile, a reality sank in. For all the Indians had accomplished -- winning an American League pennant and pushing the World Series into extra innings in Game 7 -- the Tribe inherited the distinction of having the longest active World Series championship drought -- a 68-year spell without a season-ending celebration.

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Tracy Ringolsby is columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Brantley optimistic about recovery process

Indians outfield plans on hold with uncertainty of former All-Star

Brantley optimistic about recovery process

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Michael Brantley is not just Jason Kipnis' teammate, but one of his closest friends. Publicly, Brantley is a master at concealing his emotions and putting a positive face on a comeback that has spanned 18 months. Kipnis has seen Brantley behind the scenes, and understands how difficult things have been for the outfielder.

This offseason, Brantley remained in Cleveland to focus on his rehab from the right biceps tenodesis surgery he underwent in August. In December, after attending a wedding in Ohio, Kipnis made the drive to Progressive Field to spend some time with his friend.

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Young prospects can learn from Naquin

Young prospects can learn from Naquin

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The message delivered to Tyler Naquin at the start of Spring Training a year ago was short and to the point. The Indians had vacancies in the outfield and the young center fielder had a great opportunity to seize one of the jobs with a strong performance in the preseason. Naquin did precisely that, too.

This spring, Indians manager Terry Francona did not give the same message to prospects Bradley Zimmer, Greg Allen and Yandy Diaz. Those three outfielders, while considered an important part of Cleveland's future, are in Major League camp solely to gain experience. Barring any unexpected developments, they will likely find themselves in the Minors to begin the 2017 campaign.

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Guyer glad to platoon, play where, when needed

Guyer glad to platoon, play where, when needed

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Brandon Guyer believes he can be more than a platoon player, but he understands his role on the Indians' roster. Given his career track record against left-handed pitching, the outfielder will mostly be used as a weapon against southpaws in the upcoming season.

Spring: Info | Tickets | Schedule | Gear

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Antonetti: Indians 'thirst for more' in 2017

Antonetti: Indians 'thirst for more' in 2017

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- With Presidents' Day arriving in the early part of Spring Training, who better to combine the two than Chris Antonetti, the Indians president of baseball operations? MLB.com asked Antonetti to provide his main message to Indians fans going into the 2017 season, when the Tribe will aim for a return trip to the World Series. Here is what he had to say:

"We feel confident and excited about the opportunity in front of us, because we feel great about the group of guys that we have heading into the season. But, that confidence and excitement is balanced by humility and determination. We know that it's really hard to win at the Major League level. To be able to advance as far as we did last year, it was a really difficult path and we had to overcome a lot of obstacles. It was that determination, that day-to-day approach of finding a way to put in the work, to prepare to win each and every day no matter what obstacles were in front of us, it was that mindset served us so well last year. That's the type of mindset that we need to have heading into this year. When you read comments from Michael Brantley or Corey Kluber or Cody Allen and other players, you know their mindset is focused on that. That's a really good feeling, knowing our players share that focus.

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Miller's first live BP draws respect from teammates

Miller's first live BP draws respect from teammates

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Brandon Guyer headed over to introduce himself to left-hander Andrew Miller last August. Both players had just been traded to the Indians, so Cleveland's new outfielder -- best known for his ability to hit left-handed pitching -- had a message for his new Tribe teammate.

Spring: Info | Tickets | Schedule | Gear

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kipnis on board with Francona's '17 message

Club focused on working toward another World Series run

Kipnis on board with Francona's '17 message

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians manager Terry Francona wanted to get it just right. Over the past week, he gathered his thoughts and jotted some down on paper. He erased parts and tweaked the wording. Even after all these years, and with three World Series appearances as a manager, Francona still stresses some over this speech.

Francona stood in front of his entire team on Sunday morning and delivered his message. He is not big on calling team meetings, but he does know the importance of setting the tone for a season with the spring-opening dialogue. This year is different, too. This year, Francona was speaking to the reigning American League champions.

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Tribe won't rush spring process with Kluber

Francona will take wait-and-see approach before naming OD starter

Tribe won't rush spring process with Kluber

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians manager Terry Francona wasted little time in naming ace Corey Kluber as the Opening Day starter in each of the past two springs. This year, expect Francona to take more time to see how the preseason plays out before declaring his starter for the season-opening tilt in Texas.

On Sunday, Francona reiterated that the Indians plan on easing Kluber into Cactus League games, considering the heavy load the right-hander shouldered last season. If Kluber's gradual spring schedule does not align precisely with Opening Day on April 3 against the Rangers, Francona will be open-minded about using another pitcher for the season's first game, and delaying Kluber's debut.

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Allen to close for Tribe; Miller versatile option

Allen to close for Tribe; Miller versatile option

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Whether accidental or intentional, Indians manager Terry Francona has avoided specifically referring to Cody Allen as his closer over the years. Applying that label did not always provide the proper description for the reliever's duties. If a situation came up earlier than the ninth, Allen has been available out of the bullpen.

With relief ace Andrew Miller now in the fold -- an arm best described as a leverage weapon for Francona -- the manager has altered his tune some on Allen's job title. Miller is the versatile option for any inning that Francona sees fit. Allen gives Cleveland's talented bullpen an end point.

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Prospect Allen claims Tribe's 'Warrior Dash'

Outfielder, ranked No. 19 in system, remained in organization after Lucroy trade fell through

Prospect Allen claims Tribe's 'Warrior Dash'

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Spring Training can put a lot of pressure on a prospect who gets the invitation to attend Major League camp. Take Saturday's endurance test at Indians camp as an example. Every year, not only do manager Terry Francona and his coaches look on, but nearly the entire front-office staff heads to the agility field to watch.

For every prospect -- such as outfielder Greg Allen -- all eyes are very much on them.

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

New teammates welcome Edwin's arrival

Tribe's offseason prize: 'I want to feel like part of the family'

New teammates welcome Edwin's arrival

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It did not take long for Edwin Encarnacion to feel at home inside the Indians' clubhouse. Shortly after arriving to his locker at the team's spring complex on Friday, a group of his teammates pulled up chairs and gathered around Cleveland's new first baseman for early-morning conversation.

After meeting with manager Terry Francona, Encarnacion and Carlos Santana, whose lockers are adjacent, headed to the indoor cage to get in some swings. It was the first day in a new era for the Indians, and the first step for Encarnacion in getting to know his new surroundings after signing a blockbuster deal over the offseason.

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Weighted-ball workouts on rise at Tribe camp

Bauer pleased to see growing trend among pitchers

Weighted-ball workouts on rise at Tribe camp

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The sound can be heard from a field away at Indians camp this year: The thump, thump, thump of weighted baseballs slamming against pads that hang from chain-link fences around the team's complex. It is not a new development, but this spring it is certainly more prevalent.

That sound is music to Trevor Bauer's ears.

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Tribe set with Cs: Gomes No. 1, Perez No. 2

Tribe set with Cs: Gomes No. 1, Perez No. 2

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians plan on opening the season with Yan Gomes as their starting catcher and Roberto Perez as his backup. Manager Terry Francona made it clear on Thursday morning that there will be no competition between the two for the primary job behind the plate.

"No, we have two good catchers," Francona said. "We're fortunate. We have two good catchers. Gomer's been our catcher. Just for different reasons -- whether it's been injuries -- Roberto stepped in and really did a great job. So, it's my responsibility to make it work for both of them, and we will."

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kluber easing into Spring Training workload

Indians ace working with Callaway on program for weeks ahead

Kluber easing into Spring Training workload

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- There were sleepless nights for ace Corey Kluber this past winter. In the months following the Indians' loss in the World Series, the right-hander would often be out of bed when the moon was up, though it was not the team's postseason run that was on his mind.

The Klubers welcomed a son, Camden, into their family in late November, providing a happy distraction in what was an abbreviated offseason for the pitcher. Kluber did not have much time to sit back and stew over his team coming up just short in the Fall Classic against the Cubs. Instead, he was able to turn his attention to his increasingly busy home, which already included two young daughters.

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Chen's Classic prep sets example at Tribe camp

Chen's Classic prep sets example at Tribe camp

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Bruce Chen did not look like he belonged on the mounds at the Indians' spring complex on Wednesday morning. It was not just that the left-hander retired from the Majors two seasons ago, or the fact that he now works in Cleveland's front office. What stood out was the fact that Chen was wearing a blue hat.

The pitchers on either side of Chen wore the Tribe's Spring Training caps, which have a bright red front. The coaches leaning against the green backdrop behind the row of mounds don the all-blue version. It has become a source of friendly jokes aimed at Chen -- as master of one-liners himself -- as he prepares to pitch for Team China in the World Baseball Classic.

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.