"I guess it's our turn this year to say that Spring Training doesn't count," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "Every year there's a team that says that."
After dropping Monday's Cactus League finale to the Reds, the Indians finished with a Spring Training-high 22 losses, which marked the most defeats in a preseason for the Tribe over the past 25 years. The sub-par showing is not indicative of how the Indians expect their team to perform once the regular season begins on Thursday.
The Indians firmly believe they have a team that can contend for a spot in the postseason this year -- one season after the club went 80-82 and finished second in the American League Central. While Acta admitted he was disappointed with the spring win-loss record, he has been happy with the daily progress in workouts.
"We've concentrated on getting the work done," Acta said. "We have worked more than ever this Spring Training, specializing our team in a lot of things. Defense, and all the hitting, and the two-strike approach. But, of course it bothers me, because I want to win every day."
Indians general manager Chris Antonetti noted that the offensive performance of the 13 position players projected to be on the Opening Day roster has been better this spring than the overall team production. To Antonetti, that is an indication that the club's lineup has the potential to be better than last season.
In 2011, Cleveland hit .250 as a team in the regular season, with a .317 on-base percentage, a .396 slugging percentage and a .714 OPS. Entering Monday's game at Goodyear Ballpark, the 13 players expected to be on the Opening Day roster were hitting a combined .256 with a .339 OBP, .434 SLG and .773 OPS this spring.
"If you just isolate and focus on the guys that are set to be on the roster," Antonetti said, "those guys have actually done, for the most part, pretty well this spring. It's been the guys that we brought in to compete for spots, or to provide some depth, that have struggled.
"I think that's why, when you look at our overall offensive numbers, why they're below where we'd hope they'd be. We're confident that these guys are going to be a better offensive team than last year."