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The unofficial holiday of Opening Day offered Indians fans their first glimpse of the new-look Tribe. The front office went on an off-season spending spree bringing in 11 new faces to the active roster and spent $117 million in free agency.
Reliever Vinnie Pestano was well aware of many of those key offseason transactions.
“Mark Reynolds, the trade for Aviles, then we get Swisher and Bourn, Myers,” he recounted.
Reynolds signed a one-year free agent deal with the Indians, who sought a power-hitting right-handed bat. Six games into the season, Reynolds has four home runs.
“We’ve got some guys who can get on base, steal some bags, score from first on a ball in the gap. Guys who can hit it out of the yard,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter where you hit literally,” second baseman Jason Kipnis said. “One through nine you’re going to be able to drive in some runs and score some runs.”
Jason Giambi, 42, opened the season on the disabled list, but is expected to be activated on Tuesday.
“We’ve got a nice mix of some young players. Guys in the prime of their careers. Some older guys to mix in,” Giambi said.
Free agent Michael Bourn is excited to play in front of the home fans in Cleveland.
“I know it’s a sports town. So, we’re gonna try to give them a good atmosphere and something to cheer for,” Bourn said.
After spending the last four season with the Yankees, Ohio State product Nick Swisher signed the largest free agent contract in Indians’ history. The deal was for five years and $56 million.
” I mean, this town is fired up,” Swisher said. ” And hopefully, we’re gonna do our best to make them proud of the product that we’re putting on the field.”
But perhaps the most significant signing didn’t involve a player at all. But rather, bringing Terry Francona home to Cleveland as skipper. And it hasn’t taken long for the veteran to make an impact.
“He lets the players play. He’s always in our corner. He keeps it real lose,” Outfielder Michael Brantley said.
After spending last season out of baseball, Francona’s competitive juices brought him back to the game.
“There’s a reason we do this, because we like competing. It’s fun trying to be better than the other people,” said Francona.
Starting pitcher Justin Masterson previously played for Francona in Boston with the Red Sox.
“Tito garners a lot of respect for what he’s done and what he’s been around in this game, and what he’s done in this game,” Masterson said. “And then the guys that are brought in. They’ve been through it. They’ve done things. They’ve been to the playoffs. Everyone knows what it’s like to be somewhere. And they want to be there again.”