Indians laughing their way through training camp
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Indians are pitching, hitting, bunting and doing everything else they need to work on for the upcoming season at spring training.
And laughing every step of the way.
No team seems be enjoying itself as much as Cleveland, once only the butt of jokes. Whether it’s bombarding manager Terry Francona with water balloons, mocking pitcher Trevor Bauer for giving up three consecutive home runs or parking rookie infielder Jose Ramirez’s car on the infield dirt, the Indians are leading the majors in hijinks.
It’s a training camp for camp.
The fun under the sun in Goodyear, Arizona, peaked last week when Ramirez took the practice field only to find his BMW parked where he usually stands at shortstop (http://bit.ly/1G9fHKF ). After noticing the car sitting too far from the curb, infielder Mike Aviles orchestrated the prank, which involved getting Ramirez’s keys and driving it onto a practice field.
The Indians wanted to teach a lesson to Ramirez, who seems to follow his own rules when it comes to parking etiquette. They just placed it between the first- and third-base lines.
“Hey, he parks anywhere so you might as well park it in a comfortable spot,” Aviles said. “When you park it anywhere what’s the difference between the field and the parking lot?”
Earlier this month, Francona had some fun at the expense of Bauer, who gave up home runs to three straight Chicago Cubs prospects during an exhibition start. The following day, Francona had a police officer come to the team’s morning meeting with three baseballs to deliver to Bauer.
“I just wanted to return these three baseballs that disrupted traffic on Estrella Parkway at 2:20 p.m., 2:21 p.m. and 2:22 p.m. on Tuesday,” the officer told Bauer as players in the clubhouse howled with laughter.
Bauer, too, took it in stride, posting a photo of the souvenirs on Twitter (http://bit.ly/1xtPSU1 ).
“I think Trevor loved it,” said Francona, who understands the importance of keeping his players relaxed and loose. “I hope we don’t do that every five days, but it was good.”
The Indians aren’t afraid to poke fun at themselves.
On Monday, the team released a funny video in which several current players, Francona, general manager Chris Antonetti and a singing Carlos Santana, read some negative comments directed at them on Twitter. The “Mean Tweets” bit has been used by late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, and the Indians seemed to relish the chance to respond.
Also making an appearance on the video (http://atmlb.com/1xtlNny ) was longtime Brewers broadcaster Bob Uecker, who played Harry Doyle, the whiskey-swilling play-by-play announcer who coined the phrase “Juuust a bit outside” to describe a wild pitch in the “Major League” movies, about a fictionally hapless Indians.
“C’mon, Cleveland,” Uecker said. “Give them a chance.”
Last week, Sports Illustrated picked the Indians, who haven’t won the World Series since 1948, to take it all this season. The forecast was greeted with the usual skepticism by Clevelanders, who were quick to point out that SI also tabbed the Indians in 1987 and the team lost 101 games.
On the magazine’s cover, Cy Young winner Corey Kluber is smiling and outfielder Michael Brantley is cracking up at something funny.
The Indians are too busy laughing to care.