A year ago manager Terry Francona was trying to get the most out of Leonys Martin and Carlos Gonzalez during the first few months of the season. This year is different. The team is loaded with young outfielders that are looking to prove they belong.
Delino DeShields Jr., Jordan Luplow, Bradley Zimmer and Greg Allen are just a few of the many players that will battle for starting jobs in spring training. Oscar Mercado is the only player that comes in with the expectation of playing everyday.
The Indians are hopeful that quality starting options will emerge between now and Opening Day and Franmil Reyes is a big reason why.
“La Mole” has trained all offseason in hopes of earning regular playing time in the outfield.
Reyes lost 18 pounds while working out at the Indians’ Dominican academy and training facility in San Antonio de Guerra. He made the 90-minute commute every morning from his hometown in Palenque.
“I really worked hard and I hope this work pays off,” Reyes said at Tribe Fest. “We were working a lot on swinging the bat and (Carlos) Santana was trying to give me some tips with the strike zone and all of that. It was really good to work out with him.”
The Indians are hopeful that Reyes can be competent in the outfield. If his hard work translates to the field, the Tribe’s biggest weakness gets that much stronger going into the season. It would also give the Indians the flexibility to have different players rotate at the DH spot in the lineup.
“He has to be one of our best outfielders or at least to the point where we know it doesn’t set us back,” manager Terry Francona said. “There’s a trade-off, again, in that you move that DH spot around a little bit and we can moves guys into it to give him some rest, but we also need to catch the ball.”
Reyes is in much better shape than he was when the season ended in September. He admits that he had to change his eating habits.
“Went on a good diet,” Reyes said. “I was drinking more water and cutting off the sweet things, which I miss a lot. I won’t stop. I'll try to keep myself where I am right now. I feel great.”
The Indians acquired Reyes in a three-team trade with the Padres and Reds last July. Everyone knows how much power the 24-year-old has at the plate, but he believes he’s gotten even stronger this offseason, despite dropping weight.
“I was scared of that,” Reyes said when asked about losing power. “But, when I take the break in December and I came back in January, how I was hitting the ball, I never hit it like that before. I feel really powerful right now.”
Pitchers and catchers report to Goodyear, Arizona on Feb. 11. Position players have to report by Feb. 16.