GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Wins and losses only matter in the regular season. At least that is the message that the Indians want to relay to any fans who might be prematurely pressing the panic button, based on spring results.
"I guess it's our turn this year to say that Spring Training doesn't count," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "Every year there's a team that says that."
After dropping Monday's Cactus League finale to the Reds, the Indians finished with a Spring Training-high 22 losses, which marked the most defeats in a preseason for the Tribe over the past 25 years. The sub-par showing is not indicative of how the Indians expect their team to perform once the regular season begins on Thursday.
The Indians firmly believe they have a team that can contend for a spot in the postseason this year -- one season after the club went 80-82 and finished second in the American League Central. While Acta admitted he was disappointed with the spring win-loss record, he has been happy with the daily progress in workouts.
"We've concentrated on getting the work done," Acta said. "We have worked more than ever this Spring Training, specializing our team in a lot of things. Defense, and all the hitting, and the two-strike approach. But, of course it bothers me, because I want to win every day."
Indians general manager Chris Antonetti noted that the offensive performance of the 13 position players projected to be on the Opening Day roster has been better this spring than the overall team production. To Antonetti, that is an indication that the club's lineup has the potential to be better than last season.
In 2011, Cleveland hit .250 as a team in the regular season, with a .317 on-base percentage, a .396 slugging percentage and a .714 OPS. Entering Monday's game at Goodyear Ballpark, the 13 players expected to be on the Opening Day roster were hitting a combined .256 with a .339 OBP, .434 SLG and .773 OPS this spring.
"If you just isolate and focus on the guys that are set to be on the roster," Antonetti said, "those guys have actually done, for the most part, pretty well this spring. It's been the guys that we brought in to compete for spots, or to provide some depth, that have struggled.
"I think that's why, when you look at our overall offensive numbers, why they're below where we'd hope they'd be. We're confident that these guys are going to be a better offensive team than last year."
Cabrera extension expected soon
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians have not officially announced that they have reached an agreement with shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera on a two-year contract extension, but that step is expected to come within the next few days.
On Monday morning, Cabrera politely declined to speak with a small gathering of reporters.
"I can't talk right now, guys," Cabrera said. "I have to go take my physical."
Cabrera was not in the starting lineup for Cleveland in Monday's Cactus League finale against the Reds, marking the second game in a row he sat out for the Tribe. The shortstop had been bothered by some right shoulder soreness earlier this spring, but he indicated that he was feeling fine before leaving for his medical exam.
It seems likely that the Indians will announce the extension either on Wednesday, when the team will have a workout in Cleveland, or prior to Thursday's season opener against the Blue Jays at Progressive Field. According to a source, the Indians and Cabrera have reached an agreement on a two-year, $16.5 million contract covering the 2013-14 seasons.
The Indians explored a multi-year deal with Cabrera over the winter, but ultimately settled on a one-year pact worth $4.55 million to avoid arbitration.
Last season, the 26-year-old Cabrera enjoyed a breakout showing, hitting .273 with career-high 25 home runs and 92 RBIs. He started at shortstop for the American League All-Star team and earned an AL Silver Slugger Award at the end of the season.
Gomez named fifth starter after hip injury scare
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- One needs only to chat with Indians starter Jeanmar Gomez for a few minutes to understand that he is a man of deep faith. When speaking with reporters, no matter the circumstances, Gomez always thanks God in some way.
On Monday morning -- only a few days following a scare with a right hip injury -- Gomez offered praise for being healthy and ready for the season.
"I feel good today," Gomez said. "Thanks to God."
Gomez is especially thankful because the minor injury, which flared in the fourth inning of his start on Friday, did not stop the pitcher from earning the fifth spot in the rotation. Gomez won that job with a strong spring showing and is scheduled to start against the White Sox on April 11 at Progressive Field.
"I felt a little pinch," said Gomez, referring to when he hurt his hip. "But after that, when I came back to the training room the next day after I pitched, they gave me ice and treatment and everything. Now I feel good."
On Monday, Gomez played catch from 90 feet with no issues. He said he was scheduled to throw in a long-toss session on Tuesday, and would likely work off a mound within the next few days.
Gomez, 24, fashioned a 1.37 ERA this spring in 19 2/3 innings, during which he struck out 14 and scattered 13 hits while limiting hitters to a .188 average. That performance helped him beat out righty Kevin Slowey and lefty David Huff for the lone vacancy on the starting staff.
"I felt happy, because they gave me the fifth spot for the rotation," Gomez said. "I feel good, but that's just one step. We need to continue to work hard every day. My slider was much better this year compared to two years ago. That helped me a lot with the hitters."
Last year, Gomez went 5-3 with a 4.47 ERA in 11 outings for the Indians, but he spent the bulk of the season with Triple-A Columbus. While pitching for the Clippers, the right-hander went 10-7 with a 2.55 ERA in 21 starts.
The Indians have released outfielder Fred Lewis, who had been reassigned to Minor League camp on Wednesday. Lewis, who signed a Minor League contract with Cleveland over the winter, hit .200 in nine Cactus League games this spring and missed some time due to a right elbow injury.
Outfielder Ryan Spilborghs was still mulling his immediate future on Monday morning. Spilborghs, who was reassigned to Minor League camp on Sunday, is expected to report to Triple-A Columbus on Tuesday if he does not receive a Major League opportunity with another team.
Indians closer Chris Perez, who spent the early part of Spring Training coming back from a strained left oblique, is scheduled to throw off a mound in a bullpen session on Tuesday in Zebulon, N.C. Combined with his outing on Monday against the Reds, the workout will help simulate pitching on back to back days.
Right-handed reliever Chris Ray, who was reassigned to Minor League camp on Friday, has decided not to exercise his out clause. Ray reported to Triple-A Columbus on Sunday after posting a 11.70 ERA in nine Cactus League games this spring as a non-roster invitee.
Quote to note: "Two years ago, we led the whole Cactus League in wins, or were second to the Giants or something. Still, no one picked us to win." -- Indians manager Manny Acta, on why a team's spring record is not that important