GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Manny Acta gave some inspiring words to his players Friday morning, before the first full-squad workout of his first Spring Training camp as manager of the Indians.
Then he went out and participated himself.
Acta is active when it comes to spring preparation. He hits fungoes to the infielders, shags fly balls in the outfield and even helps clean up when the day is done. Where his predecessor, Eric Wedge, was more of a delegator overseeing the daily drills, Acta takes on more of a participatory role.
"I used to be an infield and third-base coach," Acta said. "I'm not going to stop instructing and coaching just because I'm a manager. I can still do it, so I'm going to do it."
What Acta can't do right now is throw batting practice, but he's getting there. He said he had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder in September ("Twenty years of throwing BP takes a toll on you," he explained.) and is on the road to recovery. He hopes to be throwing BP again in a couple of months.
"I just don't like to be standing behind the batting cage," he said. "I'll hit ground balls every day."
Acta's presence has provided a looser environment in camp, but he was all business in the morning meeting in which he had told reporters he would deliver his best "Vincente Lombardo" material.
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After the speech, Acta said his influence runs more along the lines of NCAA basketball legend John Wooden than the NFL legend Vince Lombardi. But no matter the influence, Acta's message to this young club was simple: Believe in yourself.
"We respect [the media's prevailing opinion that the Indians won't be contenders this year], but we don't have to believe it," he said. "We have to be positive, and why not? We have a talented team. In baseball, predictions are a part of it, but people seem to be wrong just about every year. We are proof of that, because people picked this ballclub to win last year."
Acta's message seemed to hit home.
"He was very motivating," said left-hander David Huff, who led the team in wins as a rookie last year. "You can sense his energy and his passion and his pride. He makes us believe we are a good team. We're young, but we've still got the right guys to go about our business."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.