Posted February 21, 2012 on AP on Fox
On a cinder-block wall adjacent to the front entrance of the Indians' training complex, a large script ''I'' has been replaced this year by a block ''C,'' which, of course, stands for Cleveland. The Indians would like to believe it also symbolizes that they're contenders. However, just being in the hunt or near the top won't be enough for closer Chris Perez, sporting a full beard and longer hair this spring. He's done with rebuilding, second-place and any talk about waiting until next year. Perez wants more for the Indians in 2012. ''We were contending last year,'' he said Tuesday. ''Winning is the word this year. I don't want to compete. I want to win.'' Leave it to Perez to bring the early heat during the first week of training camp under the getting-warmer-by-the-day Arizona sun. The right-hander had 36 saves last season, but he couldn't do anything to stop the Indians' late-season slide in the standings. Cleveland's surprising 30-15 start was followed by an equally abrupt collapse as an avalanche of injuries overwhelmed the Indians in September. A summer of fun at Progressive Field became a bummer. The Indians finished 15 games behind AL Central-champion Detroit Tigers, the odds-on favorites to win the division again this year after adding slugger Prince Fielder to an already potent lineup. Looking back on 2011, Perez doesn't remember the start as much as the finish. ''It was fun last year while it lasted, but at the end of the year I had a bitter taste in my month,'' Perez said before going outside to play catch. ''After the deadline, the Tigers kind of took off and played at another level and we went the other way, but they weren't a better team than us in the first half. This year, we don't have any excuses.'' The Indians will hold their first official workout for pitchers and catchers Wednesday, with the full squad set to take the field for the first time Saturday. On Tuesday, players, coaches and manager underwent physicals. ''Lots of blood,'' manager Manny Acta said with a smile after having some drained for tests. ''Maybe as the manager you have to lead by example giving away that much. I thought it was a lot.'' The Indians certainly needed a lot of medical attention last season. It seemed hardly a day went by without one of Cleveland's players being hurt. The Indians lost their entire starting outfield to injuries, had two starting pitchers go down, used the disabled list 22 times (second most in the AL) and had their four most established hitters - Shin-Soo Choo, Travis Hafner, Grady Sizemore and Asdrubal Cabrera - in the same lineup just 17 times all season. ''You try to do as much as you can to prevent them,'' Perez said, ''but we had so many that were just freak injuries. There's nothing you can do.'' The Indians are hoping both Sizemore, who re-signed with the club as a free agent, and Choo can bounce back and have productive years. Choo seemed to have rebounded from a slow start in 2011 when he was hit on the thumb with a pitch, needed surgery and missed six weeks. The club's best player in 2010, Choo played in just 85 games. With so many key players sidelined, the Indians were forced to dip into their minor leagues and bring up players who weren't ready for pennant-race pressure. The club's lack of quality depth was exposed. So, to guard against the problem recurring, Indians general manager Chris Antonetti brought in 22 non-roster invitees into camp, including 13 on minor league contracts. With 62 players on the spring roster, the team ran out of lockers in the clubhouse, forcing a few players to double up. While there may be an abundance of players, there are only a few open jobs. Four spots in the rotation are taken by Ubaldo Jimenez, Justin Masterson, Derek Lowe and Josh Tomlin, with the fifth open because of legal problems involving the pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona, arrested in the Dominican Republic on false identity charges. Carmona, whose real name is Roberto Hernandez, is on baseball's restricted list. The Indians don't know when - or if - he will be with them this season. Acta has to fill two bullpen openings, pick between Jack Hannahan and Lonnie Chisenhall as his starting third baseman and decide on some bench roles. It's a strong sign of progress, and a credit to Cleveland's front office, that the Indians don't have a long list of issues to address this spring - Acta's third. Acta believes the Indians have championship pieces. It's now up to him to see that they're put together properly. ''We have some talent here,'' he said. ''Our focus is to win. When you are in a rebuilding process, you can see it from year to year. We're talented. It's not a fluke when you spend as long as we did in first place.'' Perez is counting on the Indians getting back to the top this year. And this time, he thinks they can stay there. After all, the Tigers haven't won anything yet. ''Last year, we were right in it until the end, until September,'' he said. ''Who knows? If we keep our horses out there all season, and our offense together all season, and our bullpen is going to be as strong like it was last year, and Derek Lowe has a bounce-back year, and Justin Masterson takes another step and Ubaldo has a full year with us? We're looking all right. ''And if it doesn't, we weren't supposed to win anyway, right?'' Notes: INF Cristian Guzman took a physical and said he may sign a minor league deal with the Indians on Wednesday. The 33-year-old sat out last season with a sore right shoulder. He played in Washington for Acta, who invited the two-time All-Star to camp. ''We have a good relationship,'' said Guzman, who played for Minnesota from 1999-2004. ''He called me. I told him I wanted to keep playing and he said to come here and try to help the team. So I said, `OK, I'll go.''' ... The Indians traded LHP Kelvin De La Cruz to Texas for cash. De La Cruz was designated on Feb. 13 to make room for 1B Casey Kotchman. De La Cruz went 5-6 with a 4.19 ERA for Double-A Akron in 2011.

Indians trade De La Cruz to Rangers

From the Indians: The Indians traded left-hander Kelvin De La Cruz to the Rangers on Tuesday in exchange for cash considerations. De La Cruz was designated for assignment on Feb. 13 to vacate a spot on Cleveland’s 40-man roster for recently-signed first baseman Casey Kotchman. The Indians signed Kotchman to a one-year contract worth $3 million earlier this month. The 23-year-old...

Young guns look to lead Tribe

Projected lineup CF - Grady Sizemore 2B - Jason Kipnis SS - Asdrubal Cabrera C - Carlos Santana RF - Shin-Soo Choo DH - Travis Hafner 1B - Casey Kotchman 3B - Jack Hannahan LF - Michael Brantley SP - Justin Masterson SP - Ubaldo Jimenez SP - Josh Tomlin SP - Derek Lowe SP - Kevin Slowey CL - Chris Perez Five things to think about: - About three years ago, Sizemore...

Acta Answers The Questions – I Take On the Answers

Pitchers and Catchers have reported to Spring Training!!! Wahoo!!! Rejoice!!! Man I love baseball. Man I love me some Tribe action!!! With Manny Acta and his coaching staff arriving in Goodyear to get things started, the media had their first crack of the spring to ask the questions they’ve been working up in their minds all offseason. Acta is the anti-Eric Wedge. The guy is...

Jon Garland becomes free agent again

Jon Garland was set to take a physical on Monday, in preparation of joining the Indians on a minor league deal. Paul Hoynes of The Cleveland Plain-Dealer is reporting that the physical did not happen thus making Garland a free agent. GM Chris Antonetti told Jim Bowden of ESPN that Garland is still currently rehabbing and is not ready to compete for a spot in the rotation. Garland...

Indians sign INF Cristian Guzman

GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) -- The Cleveland Indians have signed infielder Cristian Guzman to a minor league contract. Guzman didn't play last season because of a shoulder problem, but the 33-year-old passed a physical with the Indians on Tuesday and will have a chance to win a job during training camp. A two-time All-Star, Guzman is a career .271 hitter in 12 seasons with Minnesota...

Indians send LHP De La Cruz to Rangers

The Cleveland Indians have traded minor league left-hander Kelvin De La Cruz to the Texas Rangers for cash considerations. The Indians had designated the 32-year-old for assignment on Feb. 14 to make room for free agent first baseman Casey Kotchman, who signed with Cleveland earlier this month. De La Cruz spent last season at Double-A Akron, where he went 5-6 with a 4.19 ERA...

Indians sent LHP De La Cruz to Rangers

The Cleveland Indians have traded minor league left-hander Kelvin De La Cruz to the Texas Rangers for cash considerations. The Indians had designated the 32-year-old for assignment on Feb. 14 to make room for free agent first baseman Casey Kotchman, who signed with Cleveland earlier this month. De La Cruz spent last season at Double-A Akron, where he went 5-6 with a 4.19 ERA in...

'Carmona' seeking a pardon to rejoin Indians

The pitcher Roberto Hernandez, formerly known as Fausto Carmona, told The Associated Press he hopes to obtain a judicial pardon and return to the Cleveland Indians this season.

Cleveland's Hernandez seeks pardon

The pitcher Roberto Hernandez, formerly known as Fausto Carmona, said he hopes to obtain a judicial pardon and return to the Indians.

Indians To Sign Former Nationals SS Cristian Guzmán

The Cleveland Indians will sign former Washington Nationals shortstop Cristian Guzmán to a minor league deal pending a physical, according to MLB Trade Rumors and's Jordan Bastian.  Guzmán was the Nats shortstop during Indians manager Manny Acta's time as the skipper in Washington. The Washington Nationals parted ways with Cristian Guzmán back in 2010 at the...

INF Guzman says he'll sign with Indians (AP)

Infielder Cristian Guzman has taken a physical for the Cleveland Indians and says he will sign a minor league contract with the club. Guzman was spotted in the hallway of the Indians' training facility Tuesday as players took physicals before the team's first official workouts this week. Later, Guzman took an empty stall in Cleveland's clubhouse and said he will likely sign Wednesday.

Third-base competition will likely go to wire

The Indians have six weeks to name a starting third baseman, and manager Manny Acta believes that the decision to go with either Lonnie Chisenhall or Jack Hannahan could come down to the final days of camp.

Tribe unable to complete deal with Garland

On Wednesday, learned that the Tribe will not be signing right-hander Jon Garland to a Minor League contract as the club had originally hoped.
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