GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Both the Reds and Indians opened their Cactus League seasons Tuesday showcasing pitchers who are competing for rotation spots.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Brandon Moss has cleared every hurdle he has faced through the early portion of Spring Training, putting the Indians outfielder on pace to potentially appear in a Cactus League game sooner than originally expected.
Tribe manager Terry Francona noted on Tuesday that Moss -- coming back from October hip surgery -- ran the bases with no issues during Monday's workout. Cleveland initially projected that Moss might be cleared for game action by mid-March, but Francona said that step could come earlier in the preseason schedule.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians have seen both the benefits and the pitfalls of the current Wild Card system. Cleveland roared through the final two weeks of the schedule two years ago and earned the right to host the one-game playoff game, but then experienced a painfully quick exit from the October stage.
Indians manager Terry Francona likes the current format, having seen how things have played out in both leagues over the course of the past three years. That said, Francona would love to have Major League Baseball consider expanding the one-and-done Wild Card Game to a best-of-three series in the future.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The White Sox were among the biggest players in the offseason, looking to rebuild with the idea of making an instant return to contention in the American League Central this season.
The Tigers, coming off four consecutive division titles, and the Royals, who ended a 29-year postseason drought by advancing to the World Series, were busy patching holes created by offseason departures.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The sight of the snow-covered diamond at Progressive Field right now might make Opening Day feel extremely far away. The news that the Tribe's home opener sold out in swift fashion on Tuesday morning helped generate some warm thoughts.
For the 23rd consecutive season, the Indians' home opener has sold out, doing so in just 11 minutes after single-game tickets went on sale for registered fans on Tuesday morning. This year, Cleveland will host the rival Tigers at 4:10 p.m. ET on April 10 at Progressive Field to kick off the 2015 home slate.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Scott Atchison is the recipient of an endless stream of old jokes, stemming from his graying hair and long history in professional baseball. The veteran Indians reliever has fun with the running gag, especially with youngster Kyle Crockett a few lockers down from him right now.
"What year were you born?" the 38-year-old Atchison asked Crockett on Monday morning. "1991? That was a bad year for me."
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The theme of workouts for the Indians this spring has been simulating plays at game speed. After two weeks of going through drills, the time has come for Cleveland to transition from the practice diamond to an actual ballpark.
On Tuesday, Indians starter Zach McAllister will take the mound against the Reds in the Tribe's first Cactus League contest of the spring. Cleveland's players are more than ready to take the next step in baseball's annual march toward Opening Day.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The expectations are high for Francisco Lindor, and there is a chance that the Indians' elite shortstop prospect could hold his own in the big leagues right now. However, Cleveland is not caving into that kind of temptation when it comes to Lindor's path to the Majors.
"I don't think that's developing a player," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "If you [promote] a guy too quick and you get him beat up, that's not development. They've got to go through a progression, for the most part."
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Most pitchers will throw off a mound a handful of times before reporting to Spring Training. Others prefer to wait until they are around the Major League coaching staff and at the complex before working through their first bullpen session.
Carlos Carrasco took a different approach this year.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Corey Kluber fired a breaking ball that ran hard over the inside part of the plate, forcing Michael Bourn to swiftly move out of the way. The Indians center fielder shook his head, let out a slight laugh and shifted back into his stance as the pitcher grinned on the mound.
"I wasn't ready for that one," Bourn said.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- When Gavin Floyd threw his first pitch to a batter on Sunday morning, things went considerably better than the last time the right-hander worked with a batter at the plate. Floyd got through his first live batting practice session of the spring pain free and encouraged.
"It's just another step," Floyd said. "It's the first time I had a significant bullpen, cooled down for a little bit and then got back out there. I felt really good. I've just got to continue to make progress and build up strength. Usually, that's just by doing it over and over again, and using spring to do that."
Native Cubans could move to the big leagues without dealing much in politics, secrecy and defection six decades ago. Cuban baseball talent was highly regarded and increasingly desirable. Not coincidentally, Minnie Minoso was at the forefront of the international game then. His baseball skills caught the eye. His distinctive name caught the ear. And his warm and engaging personality made him an uncommonly popular figure anywhere he played -- no, anywhere he went -- and helped forge a legacy that, to this day, prompts baseball folks to smile.
Minoso died Sunday at age 90 -- 34 years after his final at-bat in the big leagues, the one that made him the second player in Major League history to appear in games in five decades. Had Bill Veeck, baseball's ultimate showman, lived into the summer of 1990, Minoso probably would have played in six, and perhaps ended his 14-year slump at three at-bats.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- When constructing a lineup, Indians manager Terry Francona likes to make things as difficult as possible for the opposition. If Francona can alternate left-handed and right-handed batters, it makes it that much harder for the other manager to make bullpen decisions late in games.
Right now, though, Francona is weighing whether it is worth it to use that approach for the top of his lineup. If Cleveland has Michael Bourn, Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley in the first three spots of the order, respectively, that will stack three lefty batters in a row. Francona is in the midst of considering the risk and reward of such a move.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Over the winter, pitchers often retreat to indoor batting tunnels to run through their mound workouts. In the early stages of Spring Training, they advance to bullpen sessions at their team's training complex. Live batting practice is the next step in the annual march to the regular season.
On Saturday morning, Trevor Bauer was among the Indians pitchers who went through live BP sessions for the first time this year, giving them their first testing ground with batters standing at the plate. At this time of year, the pitchers are always ahead of the hitters, but that does not make things any less strange out on the mound.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Nick Swisher had not faced live pitching since last August until stepping to the plate for a live batting practice session Saturday morning. The veteran was welcomed back by hard-throwing Indians right-handers Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar.
"Two flamethrowers right out of the gate," Swisher said with a laugh. "The first few days, we get used to tracking and taking a swing every now and then. Just for me, to get back on the field, it's nice."
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- A baseball rested in a patch of gravel beyond the right-field wall of one of the Indians' practice fields Saturday morning. It was the victim of an opposite-field blast that outfielder Tyler Holt launched off Danny Salazar during a batting practice session.
Holt laughed when asked about his shot off the hard-throwing right-hander.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Major League Baseball held discussions about possibly having Cuba host a Spring Training game this year, but there was not enough time for the talks to develop into reality. Tony Clark, the executive director of the MLB Players' Association, said Saturday that such a game could take place in the future.
The United States government made it known in December that it was working towards potentially normalizing its relationship with Cuba. Major League Baseball has been monitoring the situation with an eye toward expanding its own ties to the baseball-rich country.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- For the first few days of full-squad workouts, Indians manager Terry Francona has spent a lot of time on a practice field with a group of players who might be headed to Triple-A Columbus. Among them has been highly touted third-base prospect Giovanny Urshela.
Urshela is one of Cleveland's rising stars within its farm system and the young third baseman is experiencing his first Major League Spring Training. Urshela was only recently cleared for a full range of activities after suffering a left knee injury in winter ball, so Francona has kept a close eye on the prospect.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Lonnie Chisenhall had a photo created from the time his swing was the sweetest it has ever been. When the Indians third baseman hits a lull at the plate, he plans on using the still image of his swing to help him recall how he felt on his historic night in Texas last season.
Three home runs. Five hits. Nine RBIs.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians have almost all facets covered with this spring's class of guest instructors. John McDonald is working with the infielders, Travis Hafner has focused on the hitters, Charles Nagy helps with the pitching staff and Mike Hargrove contributes around the complex as well.
"The benefit is you're getting some really good baseball people that, for whatever reason, may not be able to commit to a full season," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Especially if they were in your organization, I think it's really good."
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- As the pain intensified within Gavin Floyd's right arm in his final start last season, the pitcher looked to the heavens for help. Floyd was in the midst of a shutout against the Nationals, but felt he was potentially approaching a point of no return.
"I prayed to God," Floyd said.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Michael Brantley has seemingly mastered the unorthodox left-field corner at Progressive Field, and the Indians' All-Star left fielder was one of baseball's top threats with his arm last year. Still, advanced defensive metrics rate Brantley as a below-average defender.
Indians manager Terry Francona does not understand why the numbers do not favor Brantley's defense.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Construction crews back in Cleveland continue to battle the elements in an effort to complete the ongoing Progressive Field renovation project in time for this season's home opener.
On Thursday, Indians team president Mark Shapiro arrived at the club's Spring Training complex and indicated that most of the massive undertaking at the ballpark remains on schedule for the April 10 opener against the Tigers. The freezing temperatures that the workers have dealt with over the past few weeks have only slowed progress in two areas.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Fans will not only see changes to Progressive Field when Opening Day arrives this year, but they will also have a couple of new ticket offers for the coming season.
On Thursday, the Indians announced two unique ticket opportunities: $13 District Tickets and $10 KeyBank Kids Tickets. The District Ticket comes with one free drink, and the Kids Ticket caters to families and allows for convenient access to the Kids Clubhouse and redesigned Family Deck.
In this series, Bernie Pleskoff takes a team-by-team look at which top prospects are poised to make a contribution at the big league level in 2015.
The Indians enter Spring Training hoping several highly regarded regulars return to form after injuries. The are counting on Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher and Jason Kipnis to shake the injury bug and help lead the team to the next level.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- At some point during a Cactus League game this spring, the Indians' infielders will likely move into a dramatic defensive shift. Cleveland may even test out the strategy with a batter in the box who is not typically faced with that kind of alignment.
During Wednesday's workout, Indians bench coach Brad Mills said the team plans on doing everything it can this spring to simulate shift situations and prepare for the unexpected. The idea behind it is to help players develop another layer of reactionary decision-making in real time.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Brandon Moss watched as the baseball that rocketed off David Murphy's bat fell short of the wall in right-center field on one of the Indians' practice fields on Wednesday morning. Moss shook his head, grinned and turned to his good friend.
"You used to be stronger," Moss joked.