02/05/08 10:00 AM ET
Indians must be mentally strong in 2008
Talk of last year, lofty expectations will consistently follow Tribe
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
"We had our hands reaching for the World Series and the opportunity to go there, and we fell short," Dellucci said. "It took a while, even for me, to detox yourself out of how it ended. You didn't want to talk to anybody about baseball. Everywhere you go, no matter where you live, you had to hear, 'Oh man, you were so close.'"When you hear that, you don't want to talk about it, and you definitely don't want to talk to your teammates. I think it was probably a solid month and a half before any of us talked to each other. Not that we don't like each other, but we were kind of burned out on talking about it." If they thought that was bad, wait until the reporters start rolling into Winter Haven. But manager Eric Wedge, for one, has no doubt the Indians will be able to put the good and the bad of '07 behind them. "Our guys do a good job of separating," Wedge said. "Our guys do a real good job of understanding what they just went through, learn from it, and then move forward. We've got a pretty tough group. They've toughened up a lot over the last three years. They've experienced about everything you can experience, with the exception of a World Series. They just have to make sure, to a man, that they work hard to get better." Psychological talk aside, the physical remnants of what transpired last October will be a matter worth monitoring this spring and summer. That begins with the workloads dual aces C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona endured last season. Sabathia led the Majors in innings pitched with 241 in the regular season and added another 15 1/3 innings in the playoffs. His total workload of 256 1/3 innings blew away his previous career high of 210 in 2002. Carmona, meanwhile, logged 215 innings in the regular season and 15 in October after spending most of '06 pitching out of the bullpen. His previous high for innings pitched was 173 2/3 in the Minors in 2005. The Tribe's division rivals, the White Sox and Tigers, have both learned in recent years the toll October can take on pitchers' arms. The Indians, who aren't expected to take any special precautions with Sabathia and Carmona this spring, hope to avoid such a trend. "You're talking about two big, strong guys," general manager Mark Shapiro said of Sabathia and Carmona. "But obviously, you worry about the unknown. They're conditioned well, both mentally and physically, but you never know." Nor can the Indians know for sure if last year was their one shining moment or the beginning of something special. The feeling that nothing is guaranteed in this game should serve as motivation as spring camp dawns. "Just because we went to the postseason last year doesn't mean anything this year," first baseman Ryan Garko said. "We might never get back there. There are a lot of cases of players making the postseason when they're young and never returning. We need to remember that this year. We're starting from scratch."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.