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Perception of Indians has changed around baseball

Perception of Indians has changed around baseball

CLEVELAND -- During a recent team meeting, Indians veteran David Murphy stood up and had a message to deliver to his new teammates. When Murphy used to come to Cleveland as a visiting player, the Indians were usually taken lightly.

Murphy wanted the current club to know that the outside perception of the Indians has changed.

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"Murphy stepped up," Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis said, "and said, in years past, when the Rangers or whoever would come to Cleveland, all you had to do was get a lead and kind of coast from there. He's like, 'It's pretty evident now. Teams know when Cleveland is coming to town now. They know it's going to be a good series. They know it's going to be a hard-fought series.'

"They see how much fun we have in the locker room and in the dugout. When you have teams that are going out and we're beating you and we're laughing in the dugout, too, guys are like, 'We don't know what to do with this team. We dont know how to handle this.' That's the best atmosphere to be in."

Kipnis brought that up as part of the news conference to announce his six-year, $52.5 million extension with the Indians. In the wake of last season's 92-win showing and run to the American League Wild Card Game, Kipnis, catcher Yan Gomes and outfielder Michael Brantley signed long-term deals with the organization.

Indians first baseman Nick Swisher, who came to Cleveland as a free agent two offseasons ago, said he definitely views his team differently now compared to when he played for the other clubs.

"It's not the same. I can even go off of when I came here," Swisher said. "When I was with other teams and coming to Cleveland, it was always fun for me to come home here, but you always knew coming in that, hey, if you didn't sweep, it was a bad road trip.

"For us now, people are realizing that when you come up in here to The Pro and the 2-1-6, we're going to fight for it. Last year's record speaks for itself. That wasn't our goal, to go out and have one great amazing season and then just fall off."

Brantley echoed the remarks of his teammates.

"Two days ago," Brantley said, "I was at second base and [A's infielder] Nick Punto walked up to me and said, 'You know what? You guys have fun and you guys are playing really well as a team. It looks fun over there. It looks fun to be a part of.' It is. Teams know that when we're coming in, we're coming in to compete each and every night. They know we're going to give our best effort on the field.

"I think it kind of puts a little fear in people, and I like it. When Cleveland comes into town, I want them to know that, 'Hey, Cleveland is here to play.'"

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

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