Fifteen final thoughts on a day we thought a dust storm (called a haboob) was going to hit Goodyear Ballpark after the game. (Thankfully, it didn’t.)
1. It may not be the fair decision – at least when it comes to spring training pitching statistics – but it appears manager Terry Francona will announce that Carlos Carrasco has claimed the final spot in the Indians’ starting rotation Wednesday morning.
2. As the race dwindled to the final two, Josh Tomlin had the better spring. He’s coming off reconstructive elbow surgery in August, 2012. But it sounds like the sentimental favorite is going to lose out to Carrasco because Tomlin can hit only 93 mph on the radar gun and Carrasco has “major-league stuff,” according to his manager.
3. Francona seemed to give away his decision when he assessed Tomlin’s camp after his final spring start. “I think he’s as professional and hard-working and (as good a) teammate as you’re ever going to find,” Francona said. “That will never change. It will probably only get better, if possible.”
4. That doesn’t sound like the pitcher Francona wants on the mound for the Tribe’s home opener April 4 against the Minnesota Twins.
5. Tomlin said he felt like he answered the unknowns about him as he came back from surgery. “I think so,” he said. “It’s getting back to being able to get extended on the fastball and get out there and kind of throw the ball away as opposed to trying to cut it there. When I was hurt that was the toughest pitch for me to do, get to the opposite-arm side of the plate. That was kind of the main thing for me going to camp, re-establish that fastball down and away and everything else kind of works off that.”
6. Tomlin said this is probably the best he’s felt since 2011, when he went 12-7 with a 4.25 ERA for the Indians in 26 starts.
7. As for Carrasco, he seemed certain to make the team since he was out of minor league options. But he didn’t want to be in the bullpen and when talk of that surfaced, he seemed to get serious and maintained his aggressiveness Monday against the Reds. The question is whether he can be consistent.
8. Francona doesn’t sound like he’s alarmed by outfielder David Murphy’s .163 spring average. “He’ll probably be the guy who’s hot coming out,” Francona said. “I just know that the first day, second day of the season, spring training’s out the window.”
9. It sounds like Nick Swisher could be the leadoff hitter while Michael Bourn is on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring. Francona said he has been discussing the issue with bench coach Brad Mills.
10. Last season Swisher spent 62 games in the No. 2 hole, 10 at No. 3 and 72 at No. 4. But Carlos Santana will be Francona’s cleanup hitter. Francona isn’t sure he wants Asdrubal Cabrera leading off because he’s a switch hitter. He likes where Michael Brantley has hit this spring, in the No. 5 hole.
11. Swisher batted leadoff on Tuesday.
12. Asked about Swisher at No. 2, Francona said, “Those things can change. Even when he was struggling last year he saw a lot of pitches, he can get on base. That’s important. I think we value on-base percentage up the order as opposed to speed. Having both is great. If you had to have one or the other, I think I would take the on-base.”
13. Here’s the career on-base percentage for the Indians’ candidates to hit leadoff: Swisher (.358), Cabrera (.335), Brantley (.329), Nyjer Morgan (.341). Morgan, an outfielder, probably won’t be in the lineup every day.
14. Best sight of the day: Cabrera cutting across the right field grass towards the players’ exit with his young son Meyer by his side. Second best: Seeing Meyer Cabrera and team president Mark Shapiro’s son Caden standing with the team during the national anthem.
15. The loading of the equipment trucks carrying the players’ personal gear back to Cleveland has begun. Catcher Yan Gomes asked one of the clubhouse attendants if he needed help. The man on the other end of Gomes’ question wasn’t sure if he was serious.