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With the same mentality, Francisco Lindor is ready to meet all expectations

CLEVELAND– Standing in the center of the Indians clubhouse, Francisco Lindor stood surrounded by a throng of reporters there to cover the team on the eve of Tribe Fest last Friday.

The shortstop with the larger-than-life personality found himself just a few feet from where he stood last October, after the Indians Game 5 loss in the ALDS to the New York Yankees. It’s a loss Lindor says he’s learned from, but is not yet over.

“No, I won’t be over it,” Lindor said. “I want to win. You learn, I have definitely learned from it, I learned from it. But that’s something that’s in the past. You can’t focus on it, I learned from those mistakes that I made last postseason, now we build from there we go from there. It’s all about continuing to compete, continue trying to be successful and trying to win a World Series.”

The Yankees series was rough one for Lindor. Yes, there was his grand slam in Game 2 that helped mount the Indians’ comeback, but he had just a .111 batting average (2-of-18) in the series with six strikeouts and four walks. His only series RBIs came on his grand slam. For comparison, during the regular season he had a .273 average (178-for-651) with 89 RBIs.

Now entering his third full season at the Major League level, it’s clear the the 24-year-old has big expectations for himself, and rightfully so. But he still isn’t too keen on proclaiming himself a clubhouse leader. Rather, he would prefer to lead by example and get the Indians in lockstep.

“I’m not the type of person that’s going to tell a group of guys, hey follow me, I’ll take you guys to success, I will never do that,” he said. “I’ll do my part, I’ll sit in my corner, I’ll compete, I’ll try to get better day in and day out, and if it happens that the guys follow. I want people to be in the same line. I don’t want people to be behind me, I don’t want people to be in front of me. I want people to be in the same line because we’re a team. And we’re all going to push each other, we’re all going to work as hard as we can to achieve our goals.”

On the top of that goal list is, of course, winning a World Series, something the Indians haven’t done in 70 years. In 2016 they were the underdogs that no one expected to get to the final series, let alone make it all the way to a Game 7. Last year, after 102 wins and a 22-game win streak, they were right up there as one of the favorites before their untimely exit.

But according to Lindor, getting so close two years ago and exiting prematurely last year have done nothing to alter his goals or the team’s.

“I’m going to sit here every fan fest every year and I’m going to tell you the same thing, we’re trying to win,” he said. “Whether we win the World Series that season or we lose in the playoffs, we’re trying to win. We’re going to have the same mindset, everyone’s going to try to go after it, everybody’s going to try to compete, and do whatever it takes to get back to the postseason and winning the last game of the postseason.

“I would be lying to you if I said I have a little different approach. No I have the exact same approach. I’m going to go after it, I’m going to push my team, my teammates are going to push me, we’re all going to push each other and we’re all going to try to win.”

He may have been standing in nearly the same spot, and he may still be the same Lindor.  But what’s clear now more than ever is how much he has learned.

The shortstop with the larger-than-life personality and smile is ready for your larger-than-life expectations, and he’s going to try and collect the Commisioner’s Trophy on the way to surpassing them.

Ashley is a former basketball player who covers the Cleveland Cavaliers, Indians and high school sports for NEO Sports Insiders. She also covers the Cavs for SB Nation's Fear The Sword. Ashley is a 2015 graduate of John Carroll University and previously worked in political journalism. You can follow her on Twitter @AshleyBastock42

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