You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Big League Weekend matches Rangers, Indians in sneak peek of AL powers


For a Rust Belt city on the rebound, Cleveland just about knocked it out of the park last year.

Cleveland hosted the Republican National Convention. LeBron James and the Cavaliers extinguished the city’s 52-year pro sports championship drought. The Indians came within a whisker of winning their first World Series title since 1948. The Browns? Well, even The Man Upstairs grants only so many miracles.

The Indians are again an American League favorite in 2017 and will face the two-time defending AL West champion Texas Rangers on opening day in Arlington. First, though, the two loaded teams square off on Big League Weekend in San Antonio with games Friday night and Saturday afternoon at the Alamodome.

“We’re excited to visit San Antonio,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “We hear a lot of people go to the games, so it’s not your typical spring training atmosphere. It’ll be a nice break for the guys.”

The Indians built, and then blew, a 3-1 series lead against the Chicago Cubs in the Fall Classic, eventually losing the World Series’ Game 7 in extra innings. More than 40 million viewers watched the dramatic finale, making it the most-watched baseball game in 25 years.

“It was some kind of ride — the highest of highs and the lowest of lows,” first baseman Carlos Santana said. “You wish you could replay it to do maybe one thing better.”

The Cubs credited a 10th-inning rain delay, of all things, for halting the Indians’ momentum.

“You want to say they broke their 108-year curse or whatever, and now it’s our turn,” Cleveland closer Cody Allen said. “But it doesn’t work that way. Nobody owes you anything. We start over, and the season is a six-month grind. I like our starting point, though.”

Cleveland, a small-market team that seldom splurges in free agency, surprisingly signed Edwin Encarnacion to a three-year, $60 million contract. He’s averaged 38 homers and 112 RBIs over the past five seasons.

“When the market was unexpectedly soft at first, our guys were ready to pounce,” Francona said of his front office. “Encarnacion is such a huge force in the middle of the lineup.

“I knew it also meant Nap (Mike Napoli) wasn’t coming back. We have so much respect and love for Nap. But how do you turn down the premier bat out there?”

Napoli, who drove in 101 runs for Cleveland last year, signed a one-year, $8.5 million deal with the Rangers, his former home, and he will face them in San Antonio.

“I had a terrific time in Cleveland, and now I want to help the Rangers get to the same place,” he said.

Encarnacion said he chose the Indians because of their possibilities.

“They look great and they have young talented players,” he said through a translator. “They will have a lot of opportunities to be in the World Series again and win it. Maybe I’m the one who puts them over the top.”

Francona spoke of the magic last summer in Cleveland.

“It kept building to a crescendo,” he said. “For the Cavs’ parade, they were expecting 400,000, maybe half a million — and 1.3 million showed up. I was downtown. It was unforgettable.

“Right then we were in the midst of getting hot and we took off in the standings. It was a fun time for a lot of people. Now you want one of those parades for us.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

MLB's first Lithuanian learned the game where few play
MLB's first Lithuanian learned the game where few play

The decades-long journey of a father and a son, of a game and a country, ended with a sprint.  When Dovydas Neverauskas — fresh from the airport and wearing cleats and a glove bummed from his new Pittsburgh Pirates teammates — jogged onto the mound at PNC Park on April 24 to clean up what was left a lopsided loss to the Chicago Cubs...
Reyes carries Memphis to win over Round Rock in shortened game

Arturo Reyes tossed a two-hit, rain-shortened complete game to lead the Memphis Redbirds to a 3-1 win over the Round Rock Express on Saturday in Memphis, Tenn. Round Rock had a runner on first in the top of the fifth, but Luis Marte struck out to end the top half of the fifth. The rains came in the middle of the inning to end the possibility of playing...
OU’s Samaje Perine one of many who suffer in dank NFL draft for Big 12
OU’s Samaje Perine one of many who suffer in dank NFL draft for Big 12

Oklahoma tailback Samaje Perine can out-lift most offensive linemen when it comes to the weight room. And no one could question his production when it comes to carrying the football. This was the runner who set the FBS single-game rushing record two years ago, rushing for 427 against Kansas. He completed his career with the Sooners as the most prolific...
LBJ’s 400-meter relay teams sprint into UIL state meet
LBJ’s 400-meter relay teams sprint into UIL state meet

LBJ was the queen of the relays. And the king, too. The Jaguars sprinters left their mark on the Class 5A, Region IV track and field meet Saturday as the girls 400-meter relay team finished first at Alamo Stadium. Daylyn Gilbert, Rachel Horowitz, Sarah Porter and Hannah Porter set a meet record of 46.75 seconds. Minutes later, the LBJ boys 400 relay...
Cedar Ridge rallies past Del Valle in best-of-three bi-district series
Cedar Ridge rallies past Del Valle in best-of-three bi-district series

One day after helping her team stave off elimination by tossing a four-hit shutout, Tori McCann limited Del Valle to a lone unearned run as Cedar Ridge topped the visiting Cardinals 6-1 Saturday in the deciding game of a Class 6A bi-district softball playoff series. After a 7-2 loss to the Cardinals on Thursday, the Raiders (22-7) totaled 28 hits over...
More Stories