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Indians' Trio Pushes For Playing Time



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Greg Allen Cleveland Indians Greg Allen (Photo by Bill Mitchell)[/caption]

GOODYEAR, Ariz.—Last year it was center fielder Tyler Naquin who used a strong spring training to win a spot on the Opening Day roster. He made the most of the opportunity by hitting .296 with 14 home runs and a third-place finish in the American League rookie of the year voting.

Can any prospect in big league camp this year repeat Naquin’s feat? "Crazy things can happen,” Indians manager Terry Francona said, choosing not to shut the door completely on a prospect playing his way to Cleveland.

But in reality, it seems unlikely.

For starters, the Indians are the defending AL champions, with a deep and talented roster that doesn’t have many openings.

"Last year (at the start of camp) we told Tyler that there was a spot open,” Francona said. "This year we didn’t tell that to any of the young guys.”

The three position prospects in big league camp who appear closest to the majors are all outfielders: Greg Allen, a 2014 sixth-round pick out San Diego State; Yandy Diaz, a Cuban defector who signed with Cleveland in 2013; and Bradley Zimmer, the team’s first-round selection out of San Francisco in 2014.

All three are prospects, but none of them has spent a full season at Triple-A Columbus.

"We’re excited to see them because it’s fun watching young players do something good,” Francona said. "But you’ve got to be careful. If a guy is hitting .500, everyone wants to anoint him the next whatever.”

When it comes to prospects, Francona said spring training is useful apart from just judging players by statistics.

"For guys who are getting 40 to 60 at-bats, one good game can really sway some stats,” he said. "There are so many factors that go into (evaluating young players in spring training).

"You can make some mistakes in your evaluation if you look at spring training as the be-all, end-all.”

SMOKE SIGNALS

The Indians hired former outfielder Grady Sizemore as an advisor to player development, and he was in camp to assist the staffs in major and minor league camps. During the season he will operate as special assistant to baseball operations.

Cleveland signed veteran lefthanders Chris Narveson and James Russell to minor league contracts with invitations to the big league camp.

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Yu Chang Hits Way Onto Opening Day Roster

The Indians could not deny Chang a spot on the Opening Day roster after his performance in summer camp.

— Jim Ingraham is a sports columnist for the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram/Medina Gazette

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