March 28, 2013; Peoria, AZ, USA; Cleveland Indians right fielder Nick Swisher (33) at bat in the fourth inning during a spring training game against the San Diego Padres at Peoria Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Indians Set to Begin Cactus League Play

Cactus League Play Starts Today

Today’s the day Tribe fans. Cactus League play starts today when the Cleveland Indians take the field against the Cincinnati Reds. In the first of what is about to be just over a month’s worth of games, the Indians will begin to evaluate their team based on live action games rather than workouts in t-shirts in shorts. This is a huge deal considering the position battles currently going on and the increased expectations following a superb 2013 season.

With this being the first and most highly anticipated game of the spring, Terry Francona has released the list of pitchers that will take the mound today, as well as the lineup that will debut. For the pitchers, as we reported earlier in the week, Trevor Bauer will get the start. Following Bauer will be Aaron Harang, Nick Hagadone, Colt Hynes, T.J. House, C.C. Lee, J.C. Ramirez and Preston Guilmet.

While this is a huge deal for Trevor Bauer, this is his first public appearance with his retooled delivery, I for one am very interested to see what Aaron Harang can bring to the table. The veteran right hander is looking for a job and is very much a candidate for the fifth and final spot in the rotation. He has had some decent seasons, particularly with the Reds, and could be a nice stop-gap in the rotation while Bauer continues to work on his game at the Triple-A level.

Meanwhile, Francona has decided to employ a rather unique lineup for today’s game. It shakes out as follows:

  1.  CF Nyjer Morgan
  2. SS Asdrubal Cabrera
  3. 2B Jason Kipnis
  4. 3B Lonnie Chisenhall
  5. LF Ryan Raburn
  6. C Yan Gomes
  7. RF Jeff Francouer
  8. 1B David Cooper
  9. DH David Adams

It appears, from all indications, that Lonnie Chisenhall is going to get the first chance to make a good impression at the hot corner. Embroiled in a battle with Carlos Santana, and more than likely Mike Aviles as well, for his big league life, Chisenhall needs to have a good spring in order to show Francona and the rest of the coaching staff that he deserves to be the everyday third baseman.

Meanwhile, non-roster invitees Nyjer Morgan and Jeff Francoeur will make their Indians debuts today. Like Harang, they are also looking to catch on with a team. Like Ryan Raburn before them, who is also in the starting lineup, all three will be motivated to put their best foot forward and showcase not just for the Indians, but also the rest of the league. Also making their debuts for the Indians are the Davids, Cooper and Adams. While they are on the 40-man roster, they are anything but locks to be in Cleveland on Opening Day.

As for the rest of the lineup, this will be our first chance to see the regulars, including Jason Kipnis, Yan Gomes, and Asdrubal Cabrera. How will each look as they prepare to start the season? They each have a lot to prove. For Cabrera, this the beginning of the most important year of his career. Can he find the form that made him one of the most highly touted shortstops in baseball. Can Jason Kipnis continue to blossom as a star? Can Yan Gomes succeed as the everyday catcher? These questions won’t be answered today, but they are an important first step.

First pitch for today’s game is scheduled for 3:05. You can catch it live on MLB Network or grab Cleveland Indians Spring Training tickets.

Tags: Cactus League Cleveland Indians Spring Training Trevor Bauer

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