April Reflections on the Cleveland Indians

The ending of Spring Training is supposed to be a time when all teams are still optimistic about their opportunities in the upcoming season. Despite promises in the media by players and coaches alike, many Indians fans are more than leery about the beginning of the season.

The Indians finished Spring Training with the worst record in the Majors. The Tribe had a streak of double digit losses which is virtually unheard of during Spring Training competition. The Indians opened the season with the Toronto Blue Jays, who sported the best record in the Majors during Spring Training and are the sexy pick by many to win a Wild Card spot in the American League.

Opening weekend will also bring a homecoming of sorts for a Tribe favorite. At the ripe old age of 45, shortstop Omar Vizquel has made the Blue Jays Major League roster. His return to Cleveland will no doubt fill himself and fans with memories of better days when the Tribe was rolling in the American League Central Division.

Hopefully the team doesn’t get too nostalgic over Vizquel’s appearance because it certainly seems that they have a lot to do to get back to the form they were playing at during last season.

Things looked like they were on the right path for the Indians during the first game of the season as starter Justin Masterson handed the game to the bullpen with a 4-1 lead. However, the self-proclaimed “Bullpen Mafia” couldn’t shut the door on the Jays. All Star closer Chris Perez gave up three runs in the ninth inning as the Jays forced extra frames, seven of them to be exact. The game ended in the 16th inning after the Indians were unable to score in extra innings despite having the bases loaded with one out.

The Indians blew the lead in the second game of the season as well and were forced to play multiple extra frames during which they were on the losing end again. A season ago, the Tribe started the season with two losses and then won eight straight. The team would no doubt love for history to repeat itself, but the losses sustained last year were nowhere near as heart wrenching of those during the 2012 campaign. The pressure and expectations both weren’t nearly as high.

All things considered, the starting pitching for the Tribe has been impressively strong and consistent during the first series of the season. After those two losses, the Indians were able to get a win over the Blue Jays, hopefully setting themselves up to finish off the first home stand of the season on a strong note.

One of the main worries for the Tribe is whether they are going to be able to count on a prize possession that they received from a transaction near last year’s trade deadline. When the team dealt their top two promising pitching prospects for Colorado Rockies’ hurler Ubaldo Jimenez, they thought they were getting someone who would be the ace of their staff. At this point, it seems what the team has received in Jimenez is someone who can make headlines for almost everything else besides how he performs on the mound.

During one of the last games of Spring Training, Jimenez purposefully threw at former teammate Troy Tulowitzki presumably due to some comments Tulowitzki said about him in a Denver paper. While Jimenez did choose a game that didn’t count as the forum to take out his anger on his former mate, he has now ended up hurting the team in games that will count because of his actions. While Jimenez was appealing the suspension he was handed down from the league of five games, or one start, the likelihood that he won’t have to miss his turn in the rotation soon is very slim.

Prior to Jimenez’s first start of the season on Saturday, he announced that after the game, he was going to drop the appeal of his suspension.

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