Hitting Machine Yandy Diaz Is Odd Man Out

Yandy Diaz’s time is coming. It’s just not yet.

The 26-year-old hitting machine will return to Triple-A Columbus, where last year he led the International League in hitting—by 40 points.

Diaz ran away with the IL batting title, hitting .350 with a minor league-leading .454 on-base percentage. But due to a variety of reasons, he was unable to crack the Indians’ Opening Day roster.

“He’s a good hitter. He’s a really advanced hitter,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “At some point, and I don’t know when that’s going to be, he’s going to make his presence felt in Cleveland.

For now, Diaz will continue to make his presence felt at Columbus. At the plate, the righthanded hitter doesn’t have much left to prove in the minors.

Since signing out of Cuba in September 2013, Diaz has hit a combined .315 in more than 1,500 minor league at-bats. He has accumulated more walks (258) than strikeouts (247), while splitting time between third base and the corner outfield positions.

However, with Jose Ramirez at third base and no openings in the outfield in Cleveland, Diaz was the odd man out—despite hitting .412 in 18 spring training games.

Diaz heads back to Columbus with a few areas of development to complete.

“He swung the bat really well (in spring training),” Francona said, “but with Jose at third, we value Yandy getting his at-bats. We know if something happens, we’ve got a guy who can really hit. We tried to reinforce with him how important the rest of his game is—running the bases, defense—things he needs to develop in his entire game.”

>> Shortstop Erik Gonzalez won the competition with third baseman Giovanny Urshela for the big league utility-infield job, but he did so by default because Urshela will start the season on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. Both players are out of options and thus can’t be sent to the minors without first clearing waivers.

>> Catcher Eric Haase, who joined the 40-man roster in the offseason, made an impression in his first big league camp by hitting three home runs in 13 games before being optioned to Triple-A. “His camp was stellar,” Francona said.

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