GOODYEAR, Ariz.-- The Cleveland Indians are closing in on their first spring training game of 2017 on Saturday afternoon when they face the Cincinnati Reds.
Ryan Merritt is slated to start Saturday's game with seven or eight pitchers expected to throw throughout the afternoon.
On Thursday, the Indians were back on the practice field at their Goodyear facility getting ready for 2017. Before practice, FOX 8 Sports caught up with some of the players to talk about the upcoming season. Here are the news and notes from those interview sessions:
-We’re excited, ready to get season rolling, build that team chemistry like last year
-We were right there, to me right now it’s just take one game at a time, break season into parts,
-We all know this is our push this is our time, we’ve built such a good core, its our time to step up, we don't expect this to be a short time either.
-I’m 100 percent, ready to go, focused on getting body ready, taking a learning experience from last year.
-With Roberto Perez's success last year, it makes things more dangerous with Roberto and Yan both being able to play behind the plate—it's a good problem to have.
-On starting pitchers: They are just a year older, we have a whole lot more depth in the bullpen, that takes the pressure off the starters to not have to do so much.
-Off-season preparations didn’t change a whole lot with postseason run, started a little later, WBC helps with longer spring training to get back time that was missed due to long postseason run.
-On World Series run last year: Fun run, makes you hungry to get back, gives us an understanding of what it takes to get to that point, don’t expect to get back there, have to work to get back there.
-Our expectations inside locker room will be higher than anyone else.
-If he starts Opening Day it will be his three year in a row: Says he will be ready to go when the season starts, if not ready then fine, the long term goal is 162 games not Opening Day, be ready when the season starts.
-On the addition of Boone Logan: Our bullpen was good before the signing, he solidifies it even more, we all feel confident that when we hand the lead over to them (bullpen) that we can feel pretty good about our chances.
-On the vibe around the clubhouse after last year's run: We're a confident group, we’re putting in the work, taking care of the little things, we’ll be ready to go when the season starts.
-On 2016: We’re happy with what we were able to accomplish last year but we didn’t get our goal and I think that is something that is really driving us this spring and the throughout this entire year.
-It’s exciting, we’ve been able to learn and get better, extra experience helps everyone.
-Boone Logan addition: Gives Tito more options, lefty coming out of bullpen is never a bad thing.
-Prep time for 2017 with long postseason run: Little less time off, two weeks back at it, worked to get better,
-Says he is happy with where he is, worked on getting stronger in the winter, now he has to go out and work hard, get ready for season.
-Everybody is ready to get out there, looking forward to an exciting year from everybody.
-On 2016: We got that taste in our month, how close we came to winning it all we still have to put the work in, build off last year.
-We all were surprised when Indians signed Edwin Encarnacion, a lot of guys wouldn’t expect that to happen, the front office is all in –they are giving us all the pieces, it’s fun to be a part of that.
-Says it's hard to say anything short of a World Series title would be a disappointment.
-On his offseason workouts: I'm not bigger, just more functional, worked out in a good way, did not try to get way too big, he wanted to get big in the right areas, he is about where he wants to be, feels good ready to play some ball.
-On the outfield position: We have a lot of good players, good competition in the outfield, good group of guys who can play multiple positions, it’s going to be fun.
-On getting hit a lot: Closes himself out, left-handed pitchers pitch him in a lot, he freezes when ball comes towards him, that’s why he gets hit so much.
The Indians will hold team picture day on Friday in Goodyear, a day ahead of their Cactus League opener.