No, they won't be in bunk beds or on lifeguard duty, but the Cleveland Indians officially reported for Summer Camp at Progressive Field on Friday.
"In the back of my mind, there's no way we don't play this year," Indians starting pitcher Shane Bieber told reporters in a Zoom call following day one of camp. "I [kind of> knew that, sort of a wishful thinking type of idea, that we would get this done and play this season, and today came."
Bieber, who was named as the Opening Day starter for the original start to the season back in March, also told reporters that he expects that to still be the case for the shortened season. "I believe so, and it means a lot," Bieber said when asked about getting the nod to start the season. "Obviously, it's different, different circumstances. I've had to wait a little bit longer in anticipation, but it'll mean that much more when it comes."
"The way the days line up, it'll probably line up for him," Indians manager Terry Francona told reporters. Francona mentioned that the team is still ironing out the exact details of the exhibition dates, so it could change depending on the schedule.
Bieber finished last season with a 15-8 record, posting a 3.28 ERA and 259 strikeouts in 214 1/3 innings. He also won the All-Star Game MVP in 2019.
For Indians starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco, 2020 looks to be a welcome fresh start. After battling leukemia midway through the 2019 season and fighting his way back to play by the end of the season, some wondered if Carrasco would sit out the shortened 60 game season.
"I'm here. I just signed off everything with my medical staff and doctors, so I'm cleared to play baseball," Carrasco told reporters Friday. "I'm here to support my team and can't wait to get back on the mound and start pitching."
With Carrasco back, many wondered in what capacity would he pitch, as a starter or reliever? The Indians right hander put those thoughts to rest quickly, "Today, I can throw six innings. I did back on Sunday. I've been doing everything at my house. ... Throwing everyday, lifting everyday, running. Right now, I'm ready to go."
Carrasco went to some serious lengths to stay in game shape, bulding his own home gym and even building a pitchers mound right in his front yard. He even threw to his neighbor, who is a college catcher, to keep both of them in shap and ready for the season.
From Carrasco to outfielder Tyler Naquin, the team has been using this time to heal up and get prepared for the season.
"I feel great. My knee feels really, really good," Naquin said to reporters after day one of camp. "Took some balls live off the bat today. Fatigued here and there from an injury being an injury, but other than that, I'm 100 percent."
Naquin being back will add to an competitve outfield room with the likes of Oscar Mercado, Jordan Luplow, and Franmil Reyes among the other ten outfielders in camp.
"We've got a lot of guys out there," Naquin said of the talent in the group. "I'm going to go out there, play my game, play right field, and make sure my knee's healthy and stay between the lines. This game always shakes out in different ways for everyone."
The team announced the signings of catcher Steve Baron, infielder Jake Elmore, and right hander David Hernandez to minor league contracts on Friday.
Baron, 29, has combined to appear in 13 games at the Major League level for Seattle, St Louis and Pittsburgh dating back to his MLB debut in 2015 with the Mariners. The Miami, Florida native spent the bulk of the 2019 campaign at AAA Indianapolis (Pittsburgh) outside of seven games with the Pirates and has batted .231 (570-2470) with 124 doubles, 31 home runs and 268 RBI in 711 games across his 11 Minor League seasons. Baron was originally selected by Seattle with the 33rd overall pick in the supplemental first round of the 2009 June draft as compensation for the departure of Raul Ibañez (signed with Philadelphia).
Elmore, 33, has appeared in 217 Major League games across six seasons for Arizona, Houston, Cincinnati, Tampa Bay, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh, batting .215 (100-465) with 16 doubles, 4 home runs and 37 RBI. He split the 2019 season between AAA Indianapolis (109G) and the Pirates (20G), ranking among International League leaders in batting (2nd, .322) and OBP (4th, .387). The versatile Dothan, Alabama native became the first player in Astros history to play all nine positions in a season during the 2013 campaign. Elmore was originally selected by Arizona in the 34th round of the 2008 June draft out of Arizona State University.
Hernandez, 35, has appeared in parts of 10 Major League seasons for Baltimore, Arizona, Philadelphia, Los Angeles-AL and Cincinnati, going 38-47 with a 4.12 ERA (648.2IP, 594H, 311R-297ER) and 664 strikeouts against 253 walks across 547 games/27 starts. The Sacramento, California native made 47 relief appearances out of the Reds bullpen during the 2019 campaign and entered 2020 as a spring invitee with Washington. Hernandez was originally selected by Baltimore in the 16th round of the 2005 June draft.