Alumni makes presence felt at Indians' camp

Alumni makes presence felt at Indians' camp

Alumni makes presence felt at Indians' camp
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians believe that turning to the past can help strengthen the team's immediate future.

Carlos Baerga joined the team on Sunday at its Arizona training complex as a guest instructor, adding another former Tribe All-Star to the coaching fold. Kenny Lofton is also on hand with Cleveland to provide instruction during the spring.

"It's great," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "These guys, they were a big part of this franchise, and they continue to be. These are guys that our players appreciate having them around. They have so much to offer. We do have a great coaching staff, but you can never have enough when it comes to knowledge."

One could mistake this year's camp for a 1995 class reunion.

Besides Baerga and Lofton, other members of the 100-win '95 Indians team on hand include former manager Mike Hargrove (now an advisor to the ballclub) and catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. (the Tribe's bench coach). For Baerga, who is working as a guest coach for the first time, it has already been a memorable experience.

"I'm really happy," Baerga said with a wide smile. "I'm really happy that I'm here, and back on the field and putting on the uniform. I just talked to my wife, and I said, 'Wow, this is special.' I'm very happy.

"I can help a lot of young players for them to stay focused on the game -- and forget about the other things outside the game that will take you away from what you have."

Acta noted that the timing of their arrival was strategic. In the week before spring games begin, there is more time to dedicate to individual instruction. Baerga will work with the infielders, Lofton will focus on outfield and baserunning techniques, and Hargrove will spend time with the first basemen.

There could also be a surprise guest coming.

"We're trying to bring Albert, too," Baerga said. "We want to bring Albert Belle back to Cleveland. We need to bring him down. I don't know what we're going to do. Maybe in a cage or something. It's going to be crazy. Albert was a special player."