There’s A Shock Candidate For The Cleveland Indians’ Outfield


At the first start of his career in the outfield, Cleveland Indians made shortstop Amed Rosario … [+] Three mistakes in two flyballs dropped and one wild throw into the infield during a spring training game against the Los Angeles Angels on March 16. (AP Photo / Matt York)

Associated press

How bad was the Cleveland Indians’ outfield last year? So bad that one of this year’s candidates for the center field job is last year’s New York Mets shortstop.

With opening day in two weeks’ time, Cleveland’s still-under-construction outfield is one-third populated, two-thirds where are Kenny Lofton and Manny Ramirez when you need them?

The left field is done. It’s been settled since February 4th when the Indians signed former Minnesota Twins thug Eddie Rosario as a free agent on a one-year contract worth $ 8 million.

The other two field starters? That’s what the next two weeks are for.

The most interesting outpost in the Orchard is midfield, where shortstop Amed Rosario, whose résumé as a Major League outfielder consists of three innings in left field for the Mets in 2019, was suddenly thrown into the fray.

The other candidates for the center field job are Oscar Mercado, Bradley Zimmer, and Ben Gamel, who was not invited to the roster. That Amed Rosario has become a late addition indeed speaks volumes about the comfort Indian officials have with the other three.

Rosario joined the Indians along with another Mets shortstop, Andres Gimenez, as well as two potential players in the off-season when the Indians sent their two most expensive players, shortstop Francisco Lindor and pitcher Carlos Carrasco, to the Mets.

The problem for the Indians is that they traded against two short stops but only needed one. You apparently chose Gimenez. Given that Rosario scored more home runs (15) in 2019 than any Native American outfielder in 2020 (11), Cleveland officials understandably want to get Rosario’s bat and speed (43 stolen bases in its two full Major League seasons) ) somewhere in the lineup. The middle box could be an option. Then came Rosario’s first game in that position on Tuesday when the Indians lost 17-8 to the Angels. It wasn’t a pretty sight. Rosario made three mistakes, dropped two fly balls and threw a wild throw into the infield.

Indian President Chris Antonetti said the club will not overreact to Rosario’s rocky debut in the middle garden.

“We don’t want to measure it against his first game,” said Antonetti. “We know it was a difficult start. He is still there. He’s taking the opportunity and doing a great job with our coaches to keep us comfortable out there. “

To be fair to Rosario, he was the Mets ‘shortstop in 2018 and 2019, and in the 2020 season, cut short by the pandemic, he started shortstop in 37 of the Mets’ 60 games. Gimenez briefly started 22 games.

At the time the Mets Indians traded earlier this year, it was not believed that the outfield could be part of Rosario’s future. At the time of the deal, it was agreed that Gimenez and Rosario would be the first midfielders for the Indians, using spring training to decide which would start at shortstop and which would start at second base.

At the time, the Indians didn’t have a second baseman because Cesar Hernandez, who won a gold glove for the Indians in that position last year, became a free agent after the season. But three weeks after the Indians traded with the Mets, Hernandez was still an unsigned free agent, and he ended up signing again with the Indians.

Hernandez’s return in second place meant either Gimenez or Rosario would start off briefly, with the other player potentially being put in a user role. So far, the other player appears to be Rosario, which resulted in his chaotic midfield debut on Tuesday.

“He will continue to have chances out there (in midfield) and we will continue to work with him and give him a chance,” said Antonetti.

After a day off on Wednesday, Rosario got back on the horse in Thursday’s game against the Cubs. He played five clean innings in midfield before being removed from the game.

Antonetti said the Indians are ready to endure some mounting pain with Gimenez at the center if that is what it takes to get his bat on the line-up. He has taken the starting place in the order that Lindor’s place was for much of his time in Cleveland.

“We tried to relieve him and let him know that we expected mistakes,” said Antonetti of Gimenez, the outfielder. “We know things won’t go perfectly from the start. We hope for further progress from him. “

If Rosario didn’t take up the midfield job, preventing Cleveland from having the majors’ most Rosarioian outfield, he’d probably slip into a supply role.

In right field, it appears Josh Naylor, who was taken on by San Diego mid-season last year, is nearing the starting job, or perhaps as the left-handed half of a move with a right-handed hit against Jordan Luplow.