The fourth spring training under Indians Manager Eric Wedge has a different feel than any of the previous camps. This team is built to contend for the Central Division Championship and beyond. Looking around camp you don’t see alot of 6th year minor league free agents in camp trying to earn a roster spot. The Indians only brought 23 pitchers to Florida as opposed to as many as 33 in the past. This team has a confident air about it that tells anyone who is watching they expect to win in 2006.
Many of the young players in camp are signs that things have changed for the better. In years past these players would be fighting for a spot on the 25-man roster. This year they represent the future of the Indians, and from what I’ve seen this spring, the future is bright. Players like Ryan Garko, Andy Marte, Brad Snyder and Ryan Mulhern are very close to being major-league ready. Pitchers Andrew Brown, Jeremy Sowers, Fausto Carmona and Tony Sipp are evidence that the Indians have solid young reserves in supply at AAA Buffalo.
- The only thing hotter than third baseman Aaron Boone (.500 avg, 2 HR, 2 2b, 4 rbi) this spring has been the weather. Its been 75-80 degrees every day and not a trace of rain this month.
- The only thing worse than the Devil Rays pitching staff has been the traffic on I-4. Between the construction and overpopulation its enough to make you pull your hair out.
- Speaking of Tampa Bay, I spoke to Devil Rays broadcaster Joe Magrane the other day. He thought my blog had something to do with bizarre cult rituals because of the title "Underworld". Joe has a pretty warped sense of humor but, its always a treat to play Tampa just to hear what he’ll say next.
- Bob Feller has been a fixture at Indians Spring Training for more than a decade. He still gets in full uniform and throws out a few ceremonial first pitches while signing autographs for hours. Bob has amazing recall about his career and can take even the most ardent political analyst to task over current issues involving our country.
- Speaking of Feller, October Productions has released a detailed biography of Feller’s life and baseball career. Its available for purchase at Indians team shops and will also be broadcast by WVIZ in Cleveland on March 23rd at 8pm and re-aired Sunday April 2nd at 11am.
- And finally, is anyone watching the WBC? The games that I have seen have been fairly entertaining but, its hard to get past the fact that most of these guys just aren’t ready for highly competitive play at this point in the year.