CLEVELAND — With work to be done at Progressive Field from the snowfall the day before, the Indians canceled batting practice prior to their home opener Monday afternoon.
Judging from their performance in the season-opening series against Central Division rival Minnesota, they could have used some. In losing two of three games, Cleveland managed only five runs on 12 hits and struck out 13 times in each game.
All-Star third baseman Jose Ramirez, who was carted off the field after fouling a ball off his left leg in the final Cactus League game March 24, had only one hit and struck out three times in 11 at-bats.
“Sometimes guys just start out slow,” manager Terry Francona said. “The weather’s not going to help anybody, we know that. But sometimes you’re not ready to be who you are yet. You know you’re gonna look up at some point and he’s gonna be leading the league in a lot of categories, or second or third. The first couple games, sometimes guys just aren’t ready to be themselves yet.”
Ramirez’s slide has actually been a lengthy one, beginning over his last 40 games of the 2018 season, when he hit .166 (24-for-145) prior to going 0-for-11 in the Division Series loss to Houston.
Outside of Carlos Santana (5-for-10 with three RBIs), every player in the lineup struggled against Twins pitching.
After batting third in two games against Minnesota — 0-for-7 with six strikeouts — outfielder Tyler Naquin was dropped to eighth in the home opener.
“I thought it would be a big lift for him hitting third,” Francona said. “But he’s had such a tough time with his timing, I just thought it would help take the glare off him a little bit.”
Naquin, who hit .264 with three home runs and 23 RBIs in 61 games last year, is expected to lose his starting job when Carlos Gonzalez is ready to join the team.
Francona said Gonzalez will work out at Triple-A Columbus on Wednesday and play in the Clippers’ season opener Thursday night.
- All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor was in Green Bay, Wisc., on Monday, seeking a second opinion from Dr. Thomas Anderson on his left ankle sprain.
Lindor was nearly recovered from a calf strain when he sustained the injury during an intrasquad game at Double-A Akron last Tuesday.
- Second baseman Jason Kipnis (right calf strain) has begun running the bases at the team’s spring training facility in Goodyear, Ariz. Francona said the club is still putting a timetable together for his return.
- Center fielder Bradley Zimmer (right shoulder surgery) suffered a setback in his rehab, injuring his side while throwing. Francona said Zimmer would resume his rehab in 7-10 days.
- In honor of Jacobs/Progressive Field’s 25th anniversary, former Indians outfielder Wayne Kirby threw the ceremonial first pitch to first base coach Sandy Alomar.
Kirby had the game-winning hit in the first game at the park — a walk-off single in the 11th inning of a 4-3 victory over the Mariners in 1994.
- The Indians celebrated the Central Division championship from last season, unveiling the division pennant for the third straight year.
- Indians players wore No. 20 patches on their uniforms in recognition of late Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, who became the first black manager in MLB history for Cleveland on Opening Day in 1975.
- Cleveland owns an all-time record of 62-57 in home openers, including a 14-12 mark since moving to Jacobs/Progressive Field.
- The Indians own the top three largest crowds for the home opener in AL history — 74,420 vs. Detroit in 1973, 73,290 vs. the Yankees in 1993 and 73,163 vs. the St. Louis Browns in 1948.
- Mike Clevinger and Trevor Bauer are the just the second twosome in the majors since 1908 to allow one hit or fewer over at least seven innings in its team’s first four games, joining former Cleveland pitcher Scott Kazmir and Sonny Gray, who did it for Oakland in 2015.
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