CLEVELAND, Ohio — Sometimes players need the real deal to do what they do.
Is closer Brad Hand one of those players? He has quietly worked his way through Spring Training II with decent results. In his first appearance, he allowed two runs on three hits in one inning, but manager Terry Francona said he was dealing with a sore lower back.
Hand, in his last three appearances, has allowed one run over three innings. The run came on a long homer by Pittsburghs Josh Bell in the sixth inning Monday night.
I think youre seeing him tick up in his velocity, said Francona. The ball is spinning really good out of his hand. He was battling a lower back problem for about four or five days. He pitched through it. Now he looks pretty good.
Hand made five appearances in Spring Training I. He posted a 1.80 ERA over five innings. The closer came down with a tired left arm in the middle of last season and was shutdown from Sept. 9 through Sept. 20. So there is reason for concern even though he saved 34 games last year.
To be just as honest as I can be, said Francona, how many times did we leave spring training and Bryan Shaw had a 10.00 ERA and then the season starts. I think your just not going to see the real guy sometimes whether its spring training or Spring Training 2. They need the lights to be on.
Indians right-hander Zach Plesac.AP
No.1: Final countdown to opening night
The Indians will play the Pirates at PNC Park on Wednesday night in the final game of a three-game exhibition series. Aaron Civale is scheduled to face Pittsburgh lefty Derek Holland. The Indians will bus back to Cleveland after the game.
On Thursday, Zach Plesac will pitch a four-inning simulated game at Classic Park in Eastlake. Plesac was named the fifth starter on Tuesday.
The rest of the Indians will hold a brief workout Thursday night at Progressive Field.
What Id like to do with the rest of the team is come in at 7 p.m. and have a quick, energetic, good workout, said Francona. You know, get the blood flowing, get your arm loose, take some BP and get out of here. Because were probably gonna get back at 1 a.m or 2 a.m. (form Pittsburgh). Id like them to workout because we havent had a ton of reps.
The season opens Friday night with Shane Bieber facing Kansas City lefty Danny Duffy at 7:05 p.m. at Progressive Field.
Indians utility Mike Freeman heads to second on a double in the eighth inning of the exhibition game Monday night against the Pirates at Progressive Field. Joshua Gunter, cleveland.com
No. 2: He can do a little bit of this, a little bit of that
Utility man Mike Freeman replaced Cesar Hernandez at second base after the fifth inning Monday against the Pirates. He homered in the sixth and doubled in the eighth.
Freeman did everything a utility man could do for the Indians last year, but when they traded Corey Kluber to Texas for Delino DeShields and Emmanuel Clase on Dec. 15, they designated him for assignment to create roster space. The Indians outrighted Freeman to Class AAA Columbus and he accepted it instead of becoming a free agent.
I told him when he came off the roster, I said, Free, when you come to camp, you will be treated like the teammate that you are, said Francona. Dont worry about that non-roster thing.
I get it. Ive been there. But I wanted him to understand how important he is to what were doing. And he has just taken that hes like having a veteran around. He may not have all that much time in the major leagues, but his influence in the clubhouse and in the dugout is really good. He is deserving of that.
Freeman, Christian Arroyo and Yu Chang have waged a spirited competition for the utility job.
These Indians fans, perched on top of a parking garage behind the left field bleachers, tried to add some real crowd noise to a recent Indians’ intrasquad game at Progressive Field.Joshua Gunter, cleveland.com
No. 3: Al that noise
What does Francona think of the piped in music and crowd noise that has filled empty Progressive Field for intrasquad games in Spring Training II?
Well, its been very consistent, he said, tongue in cheek. Thats been about my biggest takeaway. Im amazed at the level of consistency.”
When asked if it was necessary, Francona said, I dont know. Im not sure. Weve kind of messed around a little bit. The guys have been great about whether its music or crowd noise. I know I got some letter today that said its annoying on the broadcast. Ive seemed to get letters lately about a lot of things that are annoying people.
Tyler Naquin (left) chats with manager Terry Francona during Saturday’s game at PNC Park.AP
No.4: In closing
Tyler Naquin was a late scratch from Tuesdays intrasquad game because of a bruised right big toe. He fouled a pitch off it Monday night against the Pirates. . .Delino DeShields was in Franconas starting lineup Tuesday night as one of two DHs — in intrasquad games you can make up your own rules. Its the first game action for DeShields since he reported late to Spring Training II after recovering from the coronavirus. DeShields, who is expected to open the season on the injured list, walked in his first plate appearance.
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