Thursday, January 28, 2010

New Indians regime arrives with optimism

The Indians began their winter press tour at Tangiers in Akron on Tuesday, reminding Clevelanders that our coldest days will soon give way to spring.

New Tribe manager Manny Acta, right-handed pitcher Jensen Lewis and outfielder Michael Brantley spoke with reporters about the Indians’ chances in 2010. Dressed in a pin-striped suit with a matching pin-striped fedora, Acta was the center of attention.

He said he looked forward to competing in the AL’s Central Division.

“It’s wide open, and that’s what’s so attractive about our division,” he said. “This division is just the most balanced one.”

After last year’s disappointing season and mid-summer trades, many Clevelanders have already written this year’s team off. Acta did his best to reassure them.

“These guys are already high-energy, high-character guys,” he said. “All I have to do is come in here and create the right atmosphere to get the best out of them.”

Brantley, like many reporters and fans, was getting to know his new manager for the first time.

“He’s a down-to-earth guy,” Brantley said. “We had about a 10- to 15-minute conversation already, and I look forward to playing for him.”

Inexperience will be the Indians’ biggest obstacle this year.

“We have the right group of guys,” Acta said. “They are just young, and they’re developing at the toughest level to develop.”

Brantley agreed. “We don’t have that much experience on both sides of the ball,” he said. “But at the same time, we have some of the veteran guys who are going to help us.” Brantley says he turned to star outfielder Grady Sizemore for advice after coming up from the minors in September.

With the team in transition, a lot of younger players will have a chance to make the roster, Brantley noted.

“There is always competition everywhere,” he said. “You have guys coming up through the minor leagues right behind you, so you just can’t take a day off.”

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