Indians prospect Neal feels better than ever

Indians prospect Neal feels better than ever

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It is not only the scenery that is much different for Thomas Neal this spring. The young outfielder is taking part in his first Spring Training with the Indians, but he is also feeling better than he has in two seasons.

"Coming in," Neal said, "I feel amazing."

The Indians are hoping that means Neal is poised to return to the form he showed a couple of years ago while playing in the Giants' farm system. Cleveland acquired the outfielder on July 30 last season in the trade that sent veteran infielder Orlando Cabrera to San Francisco.

When Neal joined the Tribe's farm system, he was dealing with one of the four stints on the disabled list that did a number on his showing last season. Neal showed solid power potential in previous Minor League seasons as a right-handed hitter, but that was sapped last year in light of shoulder, hand and foot woes.

"I'm feeling good now," Neal said. "It's very exciting, especially because I came here and worked with the training staff. They're unbelievable. I came here for a month after the season and when I left here I felt better than I had all of last year."

Neal, 24, sat out with a right shoulder injury in May and the same problem flared again in August. He also dealt with a left hand contusion and a left foot injury at other points in the season. Along the way, Neal hit .289 with only two homers and 26 RBIs in 70 games between Triple-A Fresno (Giants) and Triple-A Columbus (Indians).

Between stints with Class A San Jose and Double-A Richmond in the 2009-10 seasons, Neal hit .313 with 34 homers, 81 doubles and 159 RBIs across 265 games. In 2009, while with San Jose, the outfielder posted a 1.010 on-base plus slugging percentage.

Neal -- likely ticketed for Columbus again -- is hoping to regain that form this season.

"I ended up landing in a wonderful situation," Neal said.