Another week in Spring Training has passed and all the positives from the first week have been amplified even more. The Indians matched their first week's success in the second week, losing just once while winning five and tying once since the last update (3/4). In that span, the Indians have beaten the Mariners (8-5), Cubs twice (1-0 and 7-2), Brewers (4-2) and Diamondbacks (7-1) while finishing a game tied 4-4 with San Diego. The one loss came on Monday against the Angels (3-8) and Jared Weaver.
To this point, the Indians success has largely been based on their pitching staff, lead by Justin Masterson (who was just named Opening Day Starter) and Zach McAllister, who have yet to allow a run between them. The rest of the rotation as well as those competing for a job as the fifth starter have been successful as well to this point. This includes Corey Kluber (3.00 ERA, 6IP), Josh Tomlin (2.00 ERA, 9IP), Carlos Carrasco (1.29 ERA, 7IP) and Aaron Harang (1.80 ERA, 5IP) who have taken up the majority of innings this Spring. While the starting rotation was considered to be a weakness going into the season, it was actually the strongest part of the team in 2013 and these early results should do a little to stem the wariness going in to 2014.
A few players are missing from the list above who are either in the rotation or being considered. Terry Francona has decided to play it very safe with young players and those coming off injuries, so most notably Danny Salazar and Shaun Marcum have been missing from most of Spring Training. Rather than actually pitching in Major League games, they have been working down the street with the Indians training staff, getting ready for the regular season without spending time in game pressure situations. Salazar did finally pitch in his first game on Monday and had mixed results, striking out two, but allowing four base runners in 1.2 innings.
For the second year in a row, it will be very hard to choose the final few bullpen positions as there are so many great options to pick from. The Indians are still yet to make any cuts, so there are still about 24 pitchers in camp who would be happy with a relief role. Before getting too excited, remember that last season, all the Indians left handed relievers were perfect through the first two weeks. Of them, Nick Hagadone, Rich Hill and Scott Barnes all made contributions in the regular season and none of those contributions were positive. Yet again, Barnes (1.80 ERA, 5IP, .200 BAA) and Hagadone (1.93 ERA, 4.2IP) have had a great start to Spring, but it will be up to Chris Antonetti and Terry Francona's judgment if they are given another chance to start the season.
On the right side of things, there are a couple of young pitchers who are currently impressing. Austin Adams has been a top prospect for years, first as a starter and now as a reliever. In three innings so far this Spring he looks healthy and ready and has allowed up just a single hitter to reach base. Not quite as young, Blake Wood has also pitched well, giving up one run in five innings with five strike outs. While there is little chance of either pitcher starting the season on the 25 man roster, both could be a huge help during the season.
As always, the most important part of Spring Training are the injuries and the Indians have been pretty lucky on that front to this point with just two minor pains to report. Ryan Raburn smashed his right knee into the outfield wall forcing him to miss a few days and David Murphy has dealt with some elbow pain, keeping him from playing outfield, but not out of the lineup altogether. Neither seems serious to this point, but the Indians will need to be careful as slight, nagging injuries like these can turn into something more as the season drags on. Considering players with little chance of making the roster, Frank Herrmann and Brian LaHair are also currently taking some time off due to injury.
There isn't much to say about the positional battles or offensive output to this point, but that is not really surprising. Hitters are always behind pitchers early in the Spring, so no worry should be given to the lack of power from Carlos Santana or the lack of hits of any kind by Michael Bourn. These things usually come around by the end of March, but even if they don't, Spring Training numbers rarely continue into the regular season. Just ask Rich Hill.
For those who actually enjoy Spring Training statistics, Michael Brantley is on fire right now, and has went 10/18 (.556) so far this Spring with 3 2B and 3 RBI. Someone should tell him about no burn days.