GOODYEAR, ARIZ.: Although the Indians listened to offers all offseason about the possibility of trading shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, the veteran remains with the Indians as he enters his free-agent year.
“Wanting him back was everyone’s preference,” Indians manager Terry Francona said, despite Cabrera hitting a career-low .242 last season. “That’s an easy one, he’s a good player. Sometimes guys don’t have their best year, but it doesn’t mean you just cut bait on them or you’d never have a team.
“What impressed me the most about him last year is that when he was going through tough times, when the games were on the line, he was always there. He’d never leave the dugout. He could really be having some miserable days at the plate, but he wanted to win that game so bad you could feel it.”
The last night of last season after the Tribe lost to the Tampa Bay Rays in the one-game wild-card playoff, Cabrera texted Francona when he couldn’t sleep.
“It was about two in the morning,” Francona said. “He was really struggling. You could feel it … he was frustrated and he felt bad. He wanted to be the guy to help us get there.”
To help get the Indians back to the playoffs this year, Cabrera knows everyone — including himself, has to improve.
“I feel everybody can get better,” he said when asked specifically about his defense.
One thing Cabrera said he’s not going to do, however, is press just because he’s headed into his free-agent year.
“I’m not going to think about that,” he said. “I’m just going to come in like it’s a normal year. I’m not going to think about my free-agent year. This year I’m just going to do my best and we’ll see what happens.”
When the Indians signed veteran right-hander Aaron Harang on Saturday, it wasn’t to send a message to the pitchers already competing for the fifth spot in the rotation.
“There’s nothing to be read into [Harang’s] signing,” Francona insisted, noting the club is simply doing its due diligence to continue building depth.
“[General Manager] Chris [Antonetti] and I have gone back and forth all winter on the right amount of pitching we need,” Francona said. “Nothing has changed from what we’ve said about Carlos [Carrasco] or Josh [Tomlin]. We’re just trying to have depth. We were very honest with Aaron about [the competition], but he’s going to get a chance to show what he can do.
“You look at the paper and you see [another team] had a pitcher go down and you’re like, ‘that could be us.’ Then all of a sudden you’re starting the season and that’s not good. So if we have too much good pitching, good for us.”
Designated hitter Jason Giambi and center fielder Michael Bourn arrived Sunday, so all of the team’s 64 players have reported to big-league camp on time. The position players spent Sunday undergoing physicals and fulfilling in-house media responsibilities. The team’s first full-squad workout is today.
Old school rehab
Infielder Jose Ramirez, who had surgery on his left thumb in the offseason, is about three weeks behind due to rehab. Francona said Ramirez likely won’t make his Cactus League debut until the week of March 10.
Sunday, Ramirez was in the middle of an interesting rehab technique sitting with both hands buried in buckets of rice.
“That’s an old-fashioned [therapy],” Francona said. “Try it, man, it’s good work. But it’s hard. It started with Steve Carlton.”
Carlton, a left-handed pitcher and four-time Cy Young Award winner with the Philadelphia Phillies was known for his unusual training techniques. A majority of it included Eastern martial arts techniques, one being twisting his fist to the bottom of a five-gallon bucket of rice.
New school tech
Outside on one of the Goodyear complex fields Sunday morning during the workout, a device was being set up behind a catcher at the request of pitcher Trevor Bauer. The TrackMan device is an enhanced radar gun with a camera that not only measures a ball’s velocity, but also its spin rate and rotation.
Despite being a young pitcher, Bauer is already well known for his unusual approach to training, such as warming up before taking the mound with a long toss routine in which he throws foul pole to foul pole. So adding technology to his pre-pitching repertoire is no surprise.
According to a Baseball Prospectus article on the TrackMan device, spin is “just one of 27 measurements provided by TrackMan’s technology.” The article also said TrackMan uses “military-grade Doppler radar that was first applied to baseball in 2008 and is now being used at the MLB, college and amateur levels to capture accurate measurements on both the batted and pitched ball as an aid in scouting and player development.”
Stephanie Storm can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.