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NEOSI Indians Spring Training Roundup – Wednesday February 21st 2018

** The Indians are now just a few days away from their spring training opener against the Cincinnati Reds, and today they announced the pitcher that will take the mound first in their first game – Mike Clevinger, who will challenge for a spot in the rotation this spring.

Last season Clevinger was 12-6 with a 3.11 ERA in 21 starts for the Indians, throwing 121.2 innings, striking out 137 batters with 60 walks.

** A number of Indians fans were a little upset when the team picked up the option on Michael Brantley, feeling that Brantley’s injuries over the past few seasons was enough for them to cut the cord with the outfielder.

That’s not the case in the mind of shortstop Francisco Lindor, who had nothing but praise for Brantley today in Goodyear, stating that he’s the player he is today because of Brantley.

“Whatever Brantley does, I’m doing,” Lindor said. “Every time I have a question, I go up to Brantley. Every time I’m thinking about something about hitting, I go to Brantley. Every time I’m thinking about something about the game, I go to Brantley.

“Brantley has helped me a lot. He’s one of the reasons I’m Francisco Lindor. He has helped me a lot. I thank the Lord for putting him in my path.”

** Corey Dickerson is a name that’s been brought up a few times when it comes to the Indians, and today Paul Hoynes wrote that there could be a match between Dickerson and the Tribe if the Indians wanted to take a chance on the outfielder who was designated him for assignment Saturday.

One thing that likely is a major holdup for Dickerson to be on the Tribe radar is money, as the Indians don’t have a whole lot left in the kitty to spend.

The Indians have little, if any money, remaining to spend on a payroll that will exceed last year’s franchise-record $124 million. Dickerson signed a one-year $5.95 million contract in the offseason with Tampa to avoid arbitration, but they designated him for assignment Saturday after acquiring C.J. Cron from the Angels.

The contract, from the Rays point of view, was not guaranteed because Dickerson is still eligible for arbitration. But if a team trades for Dickerson or claims him on waivers, they’ll be on the hook for the full amount.

Dickerson, 29, hit .282 (166-for-588) with 33 doubles, 27 homers and 62 RBI last season. He slashed .282/.325/.490 and over the last four years — two with Tampa, two with Colorado – has hit 85 homers.

** Steven Kubitza at Believeland Ball wrote today about possibly the biggest battle in camp for the Indians, the one being fought for a backup infielder spot between Gio Urshela and Erik Gonzalez, who infielders who are both out of options, meaning the loser of this battle might be on another team when the season kicks off.

** Our own Payton Vince wrote an Indians preview today over at LastWordonBaseball.com, predicting that the Indians for the third straight season will be back in the postseason, and should again be in the thick of things one of if not the best team in the American League in 2018.

** With a couple big losses in the bullpen with Bryan Shaw and Joe Smith wearing new uniforms in 2018, one player who could have a huge impact on the Indians this season is reliever Tyler Olson, who last season made 30 appearances with the Tribe, and in that time didn’t allow a single run.

Chris Assenheimer of the Chronicle-Telegram writes today that Olson is a lefty that can be a big asset in 2018, and has a lot of confidence after what he was able to do last season with the big league club.

“I think the biggest thing last year was just being a reliever the whole year. Being able to have that mindset and that work ethic and just being able to focus on that,” Olson said. “I’m coming in here with the same mindset — that I gotta go out there and show what I have and do whatever I need to do to help this team.”

** The latest list of the top 30 prospects for the Indians is out, and at the top of the list, to no surprise, is Francisco Mejia who could see himself in a big league uniform by the All-Star break.

Matt Loede has been a part of the Cleveland Sports Media for over 21 years, with experience covering Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, the National Football League and even high school and college events. He has been a part of the Cleveland Indians coverage since the opening of Jacobs/Progressive Field in 1994, and spent two and a half years covering the team for 92.3 The Fan, and covers them daily for Associated Press Radio. You can follow Matt on Twitter HERE.

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