Yu Chang Hits Way Onto Opening Day Roster
When summer camp began in July, 25-year-old Yu Chang didn’t waste any time in calling attention to himself.
It wasn’t that Chang hit several home runs. It was that he hit several home runs off the Indians' best pitchers.
Counting intrasquad and exhibition games, Chang belted six home runs, most of them against established big leaguer starters. Chang hit two home runs off Carlos Carrasco and one each off Shane Bieber, Mike Clevinger, and Zach Plesac. Chang’s sixth homer came off Scott Moss, one of the organization’s pitching prospects.
“I know at some point you don’t hit a home run every night, but to this point, I think he has,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
Chang, who signed as an international free agent in 2013 out of Taiwan, and home runs are not strangers. At Double-A Akron in 2017 the 6-foot-1, 180-pound infielder led all minor league shortstops in home runs with 24. He also plays third base and second base.
This year, Chang looked like a different hitter. Even the pitchers noticed.
“Everything sounds like a gunshot,” Clevinger said. “You definitely see way more relaxed at-bats.”
The reason for that, according to Chang, was the four months he spent at home between spring training and summer camp.
“I did my normal work, like it was the offseason,” he said, “but I did some mental adjustments to improve my mindset. I feel very good right now. I can see the ball very clear. All I want is to keep doing it at the same pace and work on the normal stuff.”
At the beginning of summer camp, Francona commented on how hard Chang had worked during the four months he spent at home in Taiwan.
“It’s really obvious that he worked hard during the time off,” Francona said. “Hopefully it’s really good for his confidence because this kid really has some talent to play.”
The work paid off: Chang hit his way onto the Indians Opening Day roster.
— Francona was complimentary of Moss, who went 4-1, 1.26 in six starts at Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus last year after he was acquired from the Reds in the Trevor Bauer trade.
“A really interesting kid. He just needs reps, and with reps there’s a chance we’ve got a major league starting pitcher," Francona said. "That’s pretty exciting.”
— After two injury-riddled seasons and a change in his stance (lowering his hands to flatten his swing), outfielder Bradley Zimmer won a spot on the Opening Day roster.
“It’s good to be back," Zimmer said. "I feel comfortable, like I’m back where I belong."