Acta excited by atmosphere at Indians camp

Acta excited by atmosphere at Indians camp

Acta excited by atmosphere at Indians camp
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Groundskeepers watered the outfield grass on the sun-splashed baseball diamonds at the Indians' player development complex on a quiet Sunday morning, preparing the fields for the arrival of Spring Training.

Inside Cleveland's spring headquarters, manager Manny Acta sat at his desk in his office. To his right, a whiteboard on the wall displayed the names of the players who will be in camp with the Tribe this spring. In his hands, a notepad and pen. Camp has not officially opened, but a manager's work is never done.

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Before heading out a back exit, Indians infielder Jason Donald stopped by Acta's office and asked how long the manager planned on hanging around. Acta flashed a grin and said he had nowhere else to go at the moment, so he would probably be at his desk working for the next several hours.

"I'm planning into October," Acta said with a smile.

It was typical Acta. Always the optimist, the manager is hoping his young Indians club -- mostly the same cast that lost 93 games a year ago -- can surprise the baseball world this season with a strong showing in the American League Central. The roster might be young, but Acta also sees a group that is hungry to prove critics wrong.

The Tribe's pitchers and catchers are not required to report to Spring Training until Tuesday, and the remaining position players follow suit on Friday. Acta has already been in camp for a week, though, and he said most of the team's players have already made their annual trek to the desert.

And what has Acta seen when surveying the practice fields each morning?

"Enthusiasm," Acta said. "Every day looks like camp has already started. When we stretch in the morning, there are so many guys here. I know it's only Spring Training, but it's good to see."

Acta has already taken in a few bullpen sessions -- Carlos Carrasco and Alex White are two arms who have impressed the manager early on -- and watched rounds of batting practice. There are jobs available up and down the roster, and Acta said he is excited to see which players seize the opportunity over the next six weeks.

"It's a lot easier to get excited when guys are young," Acta said. "They know that they really have to put everything they've got into it to take one of those jobs. We have competition at second, third, a couple spots probably in the bullpen and rotation. When they're young, they're hungrier."

While the Indians have not officially confirmed the signing of infielder Orlando Cabrera -- it will not be announced until after he passes a physical -- he appears to be the favorite to land the vacancy at second base. Donald and Luis Valbuena will also be in the mix at second as well as third base. Other candidates at third include Jayson Nix, Jack Hannahan, Cord Phelps and Jared Goedert.

As far as the bullpen competition goes, Acta said he is looking forward to seeing how prospects Vinnie Pestano, Josh Judy, Bryce Stowell and Zach Putnam perform this spring for the Tribe. Acta said those four "are really pushing the envelope" in terms of vying for jobs in the 'pen.

Barring another addition -- the Indians remain interested in free agent Jeremy Bonderman on a Minor League contract -- candidates for the fifth rotation spot include Anthony Reyes, Jeanmar Gomez, Josh Tomlin and David Huff, among others. Carrasco is the front-runner for the fourth spot behind Fausto Carmona, Justin Masterson and Mitch Talbot.

Acta enjoys having so much competition taking place in camp.

He also recently added another element to this year's Spring Training.

Acta joined Twitter.

Writing under the handle @Mactriber_11, Acta has been having a good time delivering updates from Cleveland's camp. As of Sunday, he was closing in on 3,000 followers after joining the social-networking site on Feb. 1. Acta sees it as a fun way to interact with Indians fans.

"So far, it's been fun," Acta said. "I'm not anticipating to have as much time for it during the regular season, but it's been fun. It's good. I think fans like it."

On Saturday, Acta offered an update on center fielder Grady Sizemore, tweeting: "Grady's first day of batting practice on the field ... He looked very well, that was beautiful ... He used the whole field with authority."

Sizemore is currently working through a rehab program after undergoing microfracture surgery on his left knee in June.

Acta said Sizemore has been gradually progressing through a running program, but the center fielder might not be worked into spring games until mid-March. Acta added that Sizemore is unlikely to be a full participant in outfield drills when full-squad workouts begin on Feb. 20.

That said, Acta was extremely encouraged by what he saw from Sizemore's hitting session.

"It was very nice to see Grady on the field for the first time," Acta said. "He was like a kid with a new toy. It was very good. He swung the bat really good -- it was impressive."

Acta has also been thrilled with the progress of catcher Carlos Santana, who had season-ending surgery on his left knee in August. Santana has been cleared for baseball activities and, so far, has shown no lingering issues from the injury.

"Carlos is done with his rehab," Acta said. "He's just one more guy in Spring Training."

One among the many who are already here.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.