Stephanie Storm’s 5 Final Thoughts on the Indians sixth consecutive spring training win, an 8-5 come-from-behind victory over the host Mariners at the Peoria Sports Complex.
1) The Indians may have won their sixth consecutive game Wednesday, but Justin Masterson contract extension talks dominated the day. After dropping a hint late last week that he was feeling good about the prospect of signing a multiple-year deal, Masterson told reporters Wednesday that he’d consider settling for a shorter contract than the market-setting deal Reds pitcher Homer Bailey just inked for six years at $105 million.
2) Such a deal would put the Indians ace’s proposal at about three years and $45 million – a pretty friendly contract for the penny-wise Tribe. With Masterson reaching across the table, it leaves the ball squarely in the Indians court to respond as well giving the amicable Masterson a further leg up in the court of public opinion.
3) The kids are more than all right with the Tribe, providing yet another big helping hand in the team’s come-from-behind victory. Kick-starting the three-run ninth-inning rally was shortstop Francisco Lindor, the team’s No. 1 prospect as ranked by the fine folks at Baseball America.
“(Lindor’s) just a good player,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “If we’d have played him the whole game, he probably would have had something to say before that.”
After blasting a three-run home run that snapped a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the seventh inning Sunday against the visiting Mariners to help lift the Tribe to a 6-3 victory, Lindor, 20, led the way again against host Seattle Wednesday. With the score deadlocked 5-5, Lindor lined a pinch-hit RBI double down the first base line as the Indians completed the comeback with a three-run ninth.
“We tell the kids, ‘you can sit here and eat seeds and have a Coke or you can be ready to play and go in and try to do something,” Francona said. “With (Lindor), you can see he’s ready to play when he gets in there.”
4) While scouts feel Lindor’s defense has been major-league ready for some time now, it was his offense that they felt needed more work in the minors. With the kind of spring Lindor’s having, perhaps he won’t need more time at Double-A after spending just a month there last season. But just like he won’t judge a young player on not hitting well in a handful of at bats in big league camp, Francona’s not ready to anoint Lindor as veteran shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera’s replacement just yet.
“I don’t think that’s fair (to judge where he belongs) after five at bats,” Francona said. “His season will tell where he’s at as a player. And we don’t know where that’s going to be. You don’t know if he’s going to end up hitting the ball out of the ballpark, how many bases can he steal…there’s still a lot of room for growth.”
5) Ryan Raburn continued to kill spring training pitching, much like he has in the last four, five years. Included in his 2-for-3 effort Wednesday was a two-run home run. Since joining the Tribe, the reserve outfielder (who is also expected to get some time at first base in spring games within a week or so) has hit 23 home runs in 299 at bats. That includes the last two springs, the ‘13 regular season and the American League wild card game.
“He leverages the ball,” Francona said. “He uses his legs and his hands and when he gets extended, man. And he uses the whole field. You don’t see Ray pull too many balls foul like home runs. He stays inside the foul poles and he generates back spin the other way”