CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The Cleveland Indians will begin their 115th season in a cold, but filled Progressive Field.
The Indians begin this season against the Boston Red Sox, the same team that closed the 2015 season in Cleveland. Monday’s game will feature an award winning pitching matchup between 2014 Cy Young winner Corey Kluber and 2012 Cy Young winner David Price.
When asked about this matchup, Kluber said, “I think that is part of the buildup maybe, but once we get going and the first pitch is thrown it’s not me versus him. It’s the Indians versus the Red Sox. I’m trying to get their lineup out not him.”
While the Indians’ pitching staff is expected to be amongst the best in baseball, the lineup has several questions heading into the season. The Indians best hitter Michael Brantley was officially placed on the 15-day DL Sunday and won’t be eligible to return until April 8th at the earliest.
Jose Ramirez, who played two games in left field last season, and Marlon Byrd are expected to platoon in left field until Brantley can return from off-season shoulder surgery.
The outfield has been a major off-season issue for the Indians. Along with the Brantley injury the Indians have had to deal with Abraham Almonte, the expected opening day center fielder, receiving an 80 game suspension for PED use and Lonnie Chisenhall suffering a wrist injury towards the end of Spring Training. This led to Marlon Byrd spending time in both right and left field during Spring Training and opened a spot for Tyler Naquin to make the club who can play both left and center field.
Rookie Tyler Naquin, will not start in center field for the home opener according to manager Terry Francona. “We want to get him in there, but I don’t think Price makes the most sense. It just kind of makes sense to play your right handers if you have them.”
The Indians Opening Day Lineup is expected to be: CF Rajai Davis, 2B Jason Kipnis, SS Francisco Lindor, 1B Mike Napoli DH Carlos Santana, C Yan Gomes, LF Marlon Byrd, 3B Juan Uribe, and RF Collin Cowgill.
First pitch is set for 4:10 p.m. at Progressive Field.