Picking a baseball team to follow as a fan is an important moment in life for many people. Some are armed and ready with a story, detailing the events that led them to cheer for their team. Others might not remember how it all began. Maybe it was simply family tradition.
I'm going to let my son pick his own team -- sort of. If we wind up living in the Cleveland area for as long as we hope, he'll likely follow the Indians. That's fine by me. And my wife thinks it's best to raise him that way since this is where he'll spend his childhood. I mean, he already has a little Indians jersey and hat. At 16 months old, he can say "baseball," too (so what if it comes out "bah-bawl").
Some have joked that having my boy cheer for Cleveland amounts to child cruelty, considering the Tribe hasn't won a World Series since 1948. I disagree. I think rooting for a team that's starved for a championship can build character. I don't live and die with the Cubs like I did as a kid, but for many years I took pride in pulling for a club that was always the underdog.
I'm not a fan of any one team these days -- my job as a reporter has changed that -- but I'm as big a fan of the game of baseball as I've ever been. I can tell you where my original rooting interests came from, though. I remember sitting in my Grandpa Bastian's house as a kid, watching the Cubs with him. If the Cubs were good enough for Grandpa, then they were good enough for me.
One thing my Grandpa didn't tell me was that the last Cubs World Series crown came in 1908, one year before he was born. My father was born in 1941, four years prior to the Cubs' last World Series appearance. Now that I have a son of my own, that's four generations of Bastian men without a Cubs championship.
Here's hoping my son has better luck. And here's this week's Inbox.
What's the latest on the rehab of catcher Carlos Santana and center fielder Grady Sizemore? Will they be ready for Spring Training and the season? -- Todd W., Albion, N.Y.
The Indians continue to express optimism that Santana and Sizemore -- both making their way back from left knee injuries -- will be ready in time for Opening Day. Their offseason rehab has gone as planned so far without any setbacks.
Of the two, Sizemore's rehab schedule is more conservative. General manager Chis Antonetti said the center fielder began "modified" baseball activities (hitting/throwing) this past week and is scheduled to start a running routine this week. In all likelihood, Sizemore will not be ready to suit up for games when the spring schedule opens.
Have a question about the Indians?
E-mail your query to MLB.com Indians beat reporter Jordan Bastian for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.
It is not all that uncommon for players to sit out the first few spring games if there is a leftover health issue. If Sizemore does miss the first week or so of Spring Training games, that does not mean he can't be ready for Opening Day. Still, don't expect him in the Opening Day lineup if Cleveland is not convinced he is 100 percent recovered.
I was wondering what we can expect from Sizemore this season? If he doesn't improve, might he be the next on the trade block for the Indians? -- Tiffany B., Columbus, Ohio
Like you and many fans, the Indians are also wondering what they can expect from Sizemore this season. The hope is that he can return to the form he showed a couple years ago, giving the Tribe an impact bat to inject some life into the lineup. Right now, though, it really is a wait-and-see situation.
If Sizemore struggles on the field or faces a setback in his recovery from knee surgery, I doubt he'll fetch much in a trade. Sizemore's value on the trade market, however, could be strong if he works his way into the Opening Day lineup and has a strong first half. Potentially working against his trade value is the fact that his $9 million club option for 2012 becomes a player option if he is traded.
Hey Jordan, I hope you're enjoying your stay in Cleveland and meeting our odd fans. OK, so this is a tough question for you. Coming from covering another team for so long, I figure you can bring some outside perspective. I want to know what you think would be the best way for the Indians to put together a contending team for 2012? Fix the infield? Add power to lineup? Get rid of problem players? Please, let's here it!
I'm serving in the Marines right now. I'm deploying to Afghanistan for almost all of next season, so I'm probably going to miss most of the games next year. Your articles might be the only Tribe fix I get. No pressure! Ha ha. But really, welcome aboard. You came at a great time, because we're only going to get better! -- Buck J., Camp Lejeune, N.C.
That is pressure I can handle, Buck. I appreciate your note and have so much respect for you and all the other soldiers who put their lives on the line. I have one nephew who just went active in the Army and another who is set to join the National Guard. I can't thank you enough for your service.
As for your question, it is tough to say what would transform the Indians into a legitimate contender as soon as 2011-12. There is not one clear-cut answer. First, it will be important to see what the Tribe has in some of its younger players this season. From there, the club will be in a better position to plan for the future.
If a few of Cleveland's infield prospects -- two being second baseman Jason Kipnis and third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall -- pan out, then the Indians should have a solid group around the diamond. Kipnis and Chisenhall could see the big leagues at some point in 2011. The pitching staff has the makings of a solid group, too, but there will surely be some growing pains with youthful arms.
Once it appears clear who the key players are within the young core group, then the Indians can begin addressing the holes on the roster via addition and subtraction. So, patience is currently the key to progress. Beyond that, it is important for fans to head out to Progressive Field to watch this young team grow together, generating more revenue in the process.
Now that Adrian Beltre has signed with the Rangers, is there any chance the Indians attempt to acquire Michael Young if the Rangers agree to pay part of his salary? -- Alec B., Pike, Ohio
Young is 34 years old and is owed $16 million annually from 2011-13. Texas would have to practically assume all of that in order for Cleveland to acquire the veteran infielder. It's not happening. Beyond the salary issue, targeting an aging player -- even an All-Star and former batting champ -- goes against the current rebuilding model. Don't forget, the Tribe has some young infield prospects on the cusp of the big leagues. The team needs to let them play before deciding if it's best to go in a different direction.
Does Jack Hannahan have a good chance at getting a job with the Indians? He is an awesome player at third as well as other infield positions. I feel he was done wrong by Seattle and I miss him from Oakland. -- Tina B., Vallejo, Calif.
The way things currently stack up, Hannahan will be in the mix for the third- base job for the Indians this spring. Right now, Jayson Nix and Jason Donald are also in the running, along with Adam Everett and possibly Jared Goedert. It's a wide open race right now and the situation at third could remain relatively fluid until Chisenhall is deemed ready.
Being from Chillicothe, I was wondering what will happen with Zach McAllister? My brother played with him when he won a state championship, and we were wondering if he would be on the Major League roster or start the year in Triple-A? -- Brian E., Chillicothe, Ill.
McAllister is currently on the outside looking in among the candidates for the Tribe's vacant rotation spots. It seems most likely that he'll open the year with Triple-A Columbus, but he could certainly see the Majors at some point this season.
I've got some Christmas money to spend and I've been wanting a Tribe jersey for a while now. Sizemore has been my favorite player since he came in the league. Should I go with him or Santana or wait until the Indians have it figured out with a solid cast of players? -- Ben W., Lafayette, Ind.
If you ask me, and I guess you are, buying the jersey of your favorite player is a safe route. Even if he winds up with another team in a few years, it's still the player you pulled for and that doesn't go out of style. Going with a young player's jersey is a risk. If said player doesn't pan out, that jersey will likely wind up in the back of your closet.
If it were my call, I'd either stick with a favorite player or go with a classic one. I mean, you can't go wrong with a Bob Feller jersey. That'd be quite a tribute this year, too.