Naquin Gets Big Chance With Indians

CLEVELAND—Spring training frequently means that major league managers have to deliver unhappy news. For the Indians’ Terry Francona, his talk with outfielder Tyler Naquin was not one of those conversations.

“You give so many people tough news that when you’re able to tell somebody something like that, it was a real good feeling,” Francona said.

Francona told Naquin at the end of training camp that he had earned a spot on the Opening Day roster.

“That was one of the more touching ones for us,” Francona said. “To be able to tell him and see the reaction. It was hard not to be emotional. The last thing I want to do is start crying at 9:30 in the morning, but it was hard not to.”

A 2012 first-round pick from Texas A&M, Naquin’s ascension was a combination of hard work and good fortune. Projected center field starter Abraham Almonte was suspended 80 games in late February after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance, creating an unexpected opening in Cleveland.

Naquin made the most of that opportunity. In 58 spring training at-bats he hit .397 and led the Indians in hits with 23, including three doubles, three triples and four home runs.

Naquin was coming off a frustrating 2015 season in which he hit a combined .300/.381/.446 at Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus. However, he was limited to just 84 games with quad and hip injuries, plus a concussion.

“We’ve seen this kid come from two years ago, when in our one-on-one meetings he would barely look you in the eye, to growing into a man and accepting the challenge this spring,” Francona said.

Naquin collected his first major league hit in the first at-bat of his first start on April 6, when he lined a single to right field off Red Sox righthander Clay Buchholz.

“I didn’t even feel myself touch first base,” Naquin said. “It was a very exciting moment for myself and my family.”


• The Indians designated three players for assignment at the end of camp, thus removing them from the 40-man roster, and the club wound up selling lefthander Giovanni Soto to the Cubs and both outfielder James Ramsey and utility infielder Zach Walters to the Dodgers.

• Outfielders Clint Frazier and Bradley Zimmer, the Indians’ top draft picks in 2013 and 2014, respectively, began the season as teammates at Akron.

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