Indians hold first workout without star shortstop
By GARY SCHATZ
Monday, February 18
GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) — After their best player discussed his injury and an uncertain future, the Indians got to work on the present.
Cleveland held its first full-squad workout of spring training on Monday, the first step for a talented team that looks very different than the one which captured its third straight AL Central title in 2018.
Following an eventful off season culminated with All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor’s calf injury, the Indians took the field after manager Terry Francona delivered his annual address. His message this year focused on moving forward.
“The way we feel about the game doesn’t change,” Francona said. “I told them that you can break spring training into three groups: You have the young guys trying to create a good first impression. You have the guys competing for a job. You have the veterans trying to get ready for a long season.”
Earlier, Lindor said now is not the time for him to worry about a long-term contract.
The 25-year-old shortstop spoke for the first time since straining his right calf while doing agility drills in Orlando, Florida. One of baseball’s best all-around players, Lindor could miss all of camp as well as opening day. The Indians have estimated Lindor will be sidelined until late-March — at the earliest — but Francona believes he’ll be back sooner.
“If I were betting, I’d bet the under,” Francona said. “Anyone who knows Frankie knows how hard he works to stay in shape.”
Lindor said he’s only focused on getting healthy and not his financial future, which is a constant topic among Cleveland fans. The Indians have contractual control of Lindor through 2021, but the clock is ticking on them to win their first World Series since 1948 before he becomes eligible for free agency.
Lindor avoided salary arbitration last month by agreeing to a $10.55 million, one-year contract.
He has previously turned down a long-term contract and sidestepped questions about if he would consider signing one with Cleveland.
“Who knows?” Lindor said. “That’s not where we are right now. I love the city of Cleveland. I love everything about Cleveland. I love messing with you reporters. We’ll see what happens. At the end of the day I’m playing the game to win, and this is a good place for me to win.
“We’ll see. If the Indians come up with the right numbers and some point it happens — and I’m not even thinking about it — we’ll see.”
Lindor set career-highs with 129 runs, 183 hits, 38 homers, 92 RBIs and 661 at-bats last season. He batted .277, recorded 25 steals in 35 attempts and finished sixth in MVP voting.
Unlike teammate Trevor Bauer, who won his case, Lindor avoided arbitration.
“Did you see the number? It’s pretty good,” he said, flashing that famous smile. “I’ll take it. I’m blessed to play this game and get paid for it. My agent did an outstanding job and the Indians came up with the right number. We thought it was good for what the market was dictating to me.”
The Indians need another big year from Lindor to help offset the losses of Edwin Encarnacion, Yonder Alonso and Michael Brantley, three major run producers. Lindor’s injury might be a setback for now, but he’s doing all he can to remain positive and patient.
“It is a different feeling to not be able to do what you want,” Lindor said. “The trainers have to keep me busy. The moment I’m not busy, I pick up a bat, look at my cleats. I want to take off running. That’s when you have setbacks.”
Lindor said he arrives at the facility to begin his rehab at 7 a.m. and stays until 3 p.m. He hasn’t tried running yet.
“It is longer than a typical day with regular work,” Lindor said. “Every day so far has been successful. As long as I come back on a daily basis to help my teammates — that is all that matters.”
Francona said he spoke with Lindor and outfielder Bradley Zimmer, who had shoulder surgery in July, and encouraged them to keep working.
“Sometimes that can be perceived as a negative, let’s turn it into a positive,” Francona said. “I told Zim and I told Frankie the same thing. I said Frankie should be the best bunter in the league before you leave here. Can you imagine if Zim can get a bunt a week, what that would mean?”
Zimmer is part of a contingent of outfielders battled for three starting spots. That group includes Leoynis Martin, who was only with the Indians for six days last season before being hospitalized with a bacterial infection, along with Tyler Naquin and Greg Allen.
Francona’s other big challenge this spring is rebuilding a bullpen that lost Cody Allen and Andrew Miller.
“Fans want a big splash and I get it, but the front office did a good job of quietly bringing in quality bullpen arms,” Francona said.
Cabrera faces pitcher for 1st time since June arm injury
By DICK SCANLON
LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) — Miguel Cabrera hit against a pitcher Monday for the first time since rupturing a tendon in his left biceps on June 12.
The 35-year-old hit, fielded, threw and ran the bases Monday during the Detroit Tigers’ first full-squad workout of spring training.
“I feel good about being back on the field and playing,” the two-time AL MVP said. I can’t be hurt this year. I want to do my job.”
Cabrera strained a hamstring last year and then had the arm injury that required season-ending surgery. He was limited to 38 games.
“I missed the game a lot,” he said.
He also missed 32 games in 2017 due to a strained groin and back issues.
“One guy in the lineup being hurt changed the whole lineup, changed everything,” he said. “The bottom line is I’ve got to stay healthy.”
Cabrera has been running and lifting weights, and looks like the same 6-foot-4, 249-pound athlete who has 465 home runs with a .316 batting average.
“He’s bouncing around, doing all kinds of stuff,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He’s excited to get out there. I think people forget how gifted he really is when he’s doing simple drills at first base.”
Cabrera says he is not ready to be a full-time designated hitter.
“Right now, no,” he said. “But if they talk to me and say something to me, I’m always open to everything, and if the team is better with me being the DH, I’m the DH. If we’re better with me at first base, I’ll play first.”
Gardenhire says the decision will be made by Cabrera’s body.
“He would tell me before I would tell him,” the manager said.
The biceps is totally healed, according to Cabrera.
“I’m not worried about my arm. I’m more worried about my back and my legs,” he said.
Clark: Some teams make little effort to justify ticket costs
By RONALD BLUM
AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Players’ union head Tony Clark took the extraordinary step of saying baseball fans should question whether it makes sense to purchase tickets for some teams, responding to Commissioner Rob Manfred’s assertion that free-agent players have failed to adjust their economic demands in a market upended by analytics.
Top free agents Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel remain unsigned with spring training under way, creating tension during negotiations on management’s proposals for a pitch clock and new limitations on relief pitchers. The union responded with a wider list of plans that include economic initiatives such as expanding the designated hitter to the National League and altering the amateur draft to make rebuilding less appealing.
“Markets change,” Manfred said Sunday. “We’ve had a lot of change in the game. People think about players differently. They analyze players differently. They negotiate differently.”
Clark led negotiations in 2016 for a five-year labor deal. Players have increasingly been outspoken about their unhappiness during a second straight slow free-agent market, one that has seen many veterans take significant pay cuts and others remain without deals.
“Players’ eyes don’t deceive them, nor do fans’,” Clark said in a statement Monday. “As players report to spring training and see respected veterans and valued teammates on the sidelines, they are rightfully frustrated by a two-year attack on free agency. Players commit to compete every pitch of every at-bat, and every inning of every game. Yet we’re operating in an environment in which an increasing number of clubs appear to be making little effort to improve their rosters, compete for a championship or justify the price of a ticket.”
Average attendance has dropped for three straight seasons and last year fell below 30,000 per game for the first time since 2003.
Players rebuffed management’s proposal for a pitch clock ahead of the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Management made the unilateral decision to experiment with a pitch clock during spring training. Manfred has said he is reticent to change regular-season playing rules unless players agree.
“Players have made a sincere attempt to engage with clubs on their proposals to improve pace of play and enhance the game’s appeal to fans,” Clark said. “At the same time, we have presented wide-ranging ideas that value substance over seconds and ensure the best players are on the field every day. We believe these substantive changes are imperative now — not in 2022 or 2025, but in 2019.”
Players have become increasingly outspoken about the slow pace of agreements and have mentioned the possibility of a work stoppage in 2022.
“Everybody sees it. It’s obviously not good for baseball,” said Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout, a two-time AL MVP who can become a free agent after the 2020 season.
“You got two of the top guys not signed yet. With teams saying they want to rebuild, why not start with one of the top guys? Manny, Bryce, look at the pitchers out there. It’s pretty incredible. It’s disappointing for the players. It’s good they’re standing up for themselves.”
The union is concerned that too many teams are rebuilding, trying to emulate the Houston Astros. Houston lost 106 to 111 games in three straight years from 2011-13, earned three straight No. 1 draft picks and won its first World Series title in 2017.
“This narrative that our teams aren’t trying is just not supported by the facts,” Manfred said. “Our teams are trying. Every single one of them wants to win. It may look a little different to outsiders because the game has changed, the way that people think about the game, the way that people think about putting a winning team together has changed, but that doesn’t mean they’re not trying.”
Chicago Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts defended his team’s decision not to spend money on this offseason’s most illustrious free agents.
“That’s a pretty easy question to answer. We don’t have any more,” he said. “The fact is that we’ve been in the top five in spending, in baseball spending, for the last five or six years. We’re in the top couple last year. We’ve put our money back on the field. Unfortunately, you just can’t have a high-profile free agent every single year. And part of that is obviously is how much it costs, whatever, $25 million, $30 million it’s going to cost, plus it’s a 10-year commitment. … As much as I would love to have a great, new, exciting player every single season, it just can’t happen every year.”
Chicago is projected to exceed the $206 million luxury tax threshold along with the World Series champion Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees.
More players are considering long-term contracts with their current teams rather than going on the market when they can. Oakland’s Khris Davis, the big league home run champion, is among them. He can be a free agent after this year’s World Series.
“It’s not a good thing to be a free agent right now,” he said.
AP Baseball Writers Mike Fitzpatrick and Janie McCauley contributed to this report.
Iron Horse yields gold: Gehrig cap could sell for $200,000
By VIN A. CHERWOO
AP Sports Writer
Bob Ellis knew what he wanted from his mother-in-law’s collection of Lou Gehrig memorabilia both times she asked him to pick something out as a Father’s Day gift.
It was a hat worn by the New York Yankees slugger and a baseball signed by fellow Hall of Famers Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Tris Speaker and Eddie Collins.
“I could never wear the hat because my head was too big,” the Connecticut resident said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. “The baseball to me is historic. I know statistically those four batters were four of the top 20 batters in the history of baseball.”
The hat and ball are among items Ellis and his wife, Jill, received from Jill’s mother, Laurel Steigler, in 1998. The collection, which includes various photographs, letters and signed documents, and baseballs, is now available as part of Heritage Auctions’ latest offering.
Gehrig batted .340 with 493 home runs and 1,995 RBIs over his 17 years with the New York Yankees, helping the team win six World Series titles. He played in 2,130 consecutive games — a record that stood until Baltimore’s Cal Ripken Jr. broke it 1995. Gehrig retired in 1939 because amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), later called Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame the same year and died in 1941.
Steigler originally inherited the items from Lou Gehrig’s mother, Christina. Steigler and her husband, George, were longtime friends with Christina Gehrig when she and her husband, Heinrich, lived in the New York suburb of Mamaroneck.
Sometime after Heinrich Gehrig died in 1946, Christina went to live with the Steiglers in Milford, Connecticut. Christina Gehrig stayed with them for several years until they helped her get her own place in Milford. When she died in 1954, she left part of the collection of her son’s memorabilia in her will to the Steiglers.
Bob Ellis married Jill in 1964, and got the ball and hat from his mother-in-law over the years. The rest of the items were kept in a safe in the Steiglers’ house. After George Steigler died, Jill encouraged her mother to decide what she ultimately wanted to do with the collection.
So, in 1998, Laurel Steigler divided the items between Jill and brother Kenny, who sold what he received in 2001, according to Bob Ellis. The rest remained in Laurel Steigler’s safe until she died in 2014, when Ellis said the safe was transferred to his house.
The items remained untouched until two years ago. Ellis then came across letters, signed checks, a copy of a 1930 speech, a signed car registration and all the photographs.
“That’s when we were like, wow, look at all this stuff that was available that we never paid attention to,” Ellis said.
Since his son and daughter weren’t interested in the items, Ellis thought about selling the collection. When he attended a meeting of baseball enthusiasts in Derby, Connecticut, called the Silver Sluggers last August, Ellis said group host Rich Marazzi — a rules consultant for major league teams — encouraged him to contact Heritage Auctions.
The following month, Ellis and his son, Scott, met with Heritage representatives in New York to determine which items had value.
The Gehrig hat was certified by Mears, one of the leading memorabilia authentication companies, and estimated to be worth at least $200,000.
“It’s the finest condition Gehrig cap that’s ever come to market,” said Chris Ivy, Heritage’s director of sports auctions. “The condition on it is just astounding. It pretty much looks exactly like it did when Gehrig wore it in the ’30s.”
Ellis said the hat is big hit whenever shown at group meetings.
“I offered to let people take a picture with the hat on and that absolutely was a highlight for those people.” he said. “Most of which were older people and they knew the legacy of Gehrig. A couple people told me that to take that picture to their senior citizen group the next week was the thrill of a lifetime.”
The ball signed by the four Hall of Famers was valued by Heritage at $20,000, and the photographs range from $100 to at least $4,000.
Ellis said he and his wife plan to give some of the money from the items to their son, daughter and three grandchildren.
“There’s no intention for us to go and take crazy trips,” he said.
Follow Vin Cherwoo at www.twitter.com/VinCherwooAP
By The Associated Press
KANSAS CITY ROYALS — Agreed to terms with LHP Tim Hill and RHPs Heath Fillmyer, Jakob Junis, Trevor Oaks, Glenn Sparkman and Josh Staumont on one-year contracts.
TEXAS RANGERS-Signed OF Ben Revere to a minor league contract.
NEW YORK METS — Signed SS Adeiny Hechavarria to a minor league contract.
PITTSBURGH PIRATES — Signed RHP Rookie Davis to a minor league contract.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS — Signed OFs Cameron Maybin and Gerardo Parra to minor league contracts. Announced the retirement of manager Bruce Bochy, effective at the end of the season.
A person familiar with negotiations tells AP that Manny Machado and San Diego agreed to $300 million, 10-year contract
SAN DIEGO (AP) — A person familiar with negotiations tells AP that Manny Machado and San Diego agreed to $300 million, 10-year contract.
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