CLEVELAND: Indians fans began to be aware of Russ Canzler in spring training and many tracked his numbers throughout the season at Triple-A Columbus until he was summoned to the big leagues Sept. 1.
He is one of two young players Tribe operatives wanted to get a longer look at in September [Ezequiel Carrera is the other], and for the most part they have liked what they have seen.
Going into the season finale Wednesday night, Canzler was batting .278 with three doubles, three home runs and 11 RBI in 90 at-bats.
“This has definitely been different than Tampa Bay last year,” Canzler said. “I’ve gotten opportunities to show myself here. Last season I was called up on Sept. 11 and had three plate appearances.”
The Indians haven’t revealed specific plans for Canzler next year, but he probably will come to training camp with a chance to replace Travis Hafner as the designated hitter.
It helps that Canzler bats from the right side and can play two positions: first base and left field. His part of the bargain is to show he can hit consistently.
“You never know what they’re thinking,” Canzler said. “You just never do. I just try to concern myself with what I’m doing, because last year I had a very good season at Triple-A and I got traded in January.”
Canzler wasn’t complaining, just acknowledging that a player doesn’t usually have control over his fate.
“You don’t always realize you’re making an impression on people,” he said, referring to the Indians’ interest in him. “Like there will be nobody in the stands, but some scout might be watching [someone else], and for some reason he writes a report on you.”
Canzler hasn’t been clearing the fences with home runs on a nightly basis, but he has obvious power (22 homers at Columbus) that makes him an attractive DH candidate.
“I see the power in his bat,” manager Sandy Alomar said. “He has good hands. I don’t see him swinging hard, but the ball carries off his bat. He’s got some strength in his swing, and it’s effortless.”
Canzler feels his September audition went reasonably well except for one thing.
“There have been a couple of opportunities to drive in runs, and I came up short,” he said. “That’s something I’ve always been good at.”
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.