CLEVELAND --- Both All-Star managers, the American League’s Alex Cora (Red Sox) and the NL’s Dave Roberts (Dodgers), made stops in Cleveland during their playing careers.
Roberts, 47, spent parts of the first three seasons of his major league career with the Indians, while Cora, 43, played in 49 games for Cleveland in 2005 before being traded to Boston, where he became manager 13 years later.
“It was a great organization when I was here. (General manager) Mark (Shapiro) was running it, Eric Wedge was manager,” said Cora, whose brother Joey also played for the Indians during his final season in the big leagues in 1998. “I always had respect for the organization. My favorite player, Robbie Alomar, he played here. Just watching those teams dominate the AL Central and the way they did it and watching Robbie do his thing here, was fun to watch.”
“It’s a great place,” Cora said of Cleveland. “You remember the stadium being packed and the energy that those teams had, it was amazing to watch. Then they traded me to the Red Sox, so that trade set all this up. You never know how things happen.”
Roberts, who played in 75 games for the Indians before being traded to the Dodgers in 2002, was a 47th-round draft pick of Cleveland’s in 1993.
“I remember staying with a host family in Akron, playing in Double-A,” he said. “It’s really where I understood big league baseball. Whether it’s Robbie Alomar, whether its Travis Fryman, Jim Thome, whoever. These guys taught me how to be a big leaguer, and the fan base, the Midwest, supported the Indians until the end.
“To come back here, I had my first major league homer in this ballpark, being a manager representing the National League, it’s surreal.”
Roberts was mentored as a manager by Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, who became the first African-American manager in major league history for the Indians in 1975.
“I know that Frank is definitely looking down on me,” Roberts said of Robinson, who passed away in February at 83. “He was a good friend of mine, a mentor and shared a lot of thoughts and stories with me. For me, for Frank, for his family, yeah, I definitely will have a moment (Tuesday) where I'll look up and give him a little thumbs up.”
- Trevor Bauer and Brad Hand have been named in a number of trade rumors, most recently that the Yankees were interested in acquiring Bauer in a deal that involved Cleveland’s former first-round draft pick, outfielder Clint Frazier.
The Athletic reported that New York sent one of its top evaluators, former big leaguer Tim Naehring, to watch Bauer pitch Sunday in Cincinnati. According to the report, the Yankees are reluctant to trade four years of control (Frazier) for one year (Bauer or Toronto’s Marcus Stroman).
Hand has been at the center of trade rumors before. |
“Obviously, I dealt with that the last two years,” said Hand, who was traded from the Padres to the Indians at last season’s deadline. “I didn’t really think I was going to get traded last year and I ended up getting traded the day after the All-Star Game, so it’s just part of it. It’s part of what we signed up for. It’s part of the business and there’s really nothing you can do about it unless you have a no-trade clause.
“Obviously there’s a select handful of guys whose names are always thrown out there, so it’s always the teams at the top of the division looking to get stronger and teams at the bottom looking to get something in return. So we’ll see what happens over here.”
- Royals All-Star outfielder Whit Merrifield has also heard his name in trade rumors, some involving the Indians. Playing for last-place Kansas City, Merrifield seems open to the idea.
“It’s not fun getting your brains beat in every night,” he said.
Indians manager Terry Francona isn’t a native of Cleveland, but he’s spent enough time in the city to feel like one. That’s why he was so pleased the All-Star Game returned to Cleveland for the first time since 1997.
“I’m so happy for this city,” he said. “I’m not from here. I’m from an hour and a half away (New Britain Township, Pa.), but I’ve been here long enough to care. I’ve seen when LeBron came back what it did to downtown, the restaurants and bars. And a weekend like this, Cleveland can -- it’s a destination. I know what it was like during the NBA Finals and during the World Series. This is another time where Cleveland gets to show it’s a pretty cool place.”
International rules were in play Tuesday night, which meant, if the game was tied after nine innings, a runner would be placed on second base to start the 10th.
Roberts, who is not a fan of the proposed rule change, was obviously hoping to avoid the situation.
“I’d rather not see it in play. I’d rather see nine innings of baseball,” he said. “And going forward, as far as, I don’t know, (it’s) probably the wrong thing to say, but I kind of like it the way it is right now.”
“I’m with D.R., I like the way the game is played now. And hopefully it stays that way,” Cora said.
The NL’s Hyun-Jin Ryu (Dodgers) is the first South Korean-born pitcher and the second native -- Hideo Nomo (Dodgers) in 1995 -- of an Asian country to start in the All-Star Game. ... The AL’s Justin Verlander made his second All-Star Game start. He is one of 22 pitchers in major league history to be selected to eight All-Star Games. Of the 22 pitchers, 19 are in the Hall of Fame. ... The AL held a 44-43-2 edge over the NL in All-Star Games, winning 13 of the last 16 games and 18 of the last 22. ... Of the 89 All-Star Games prior to Tuesday, 50 were decided by two runs or fewer, including 10 of the last 14. ... In the previous 89 All-Star Games, the team which scored first won 53 times (60 percent).
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