TORONTO — Brotherly love? On Oct. 5, 1996, Roberto Alomar ended his older brother’s season.
Things are much tamer these days, with both Roberto and Sandy delving into their baseball afterlives. But there remains a bit of a competitive edge, palpable even during this week’s opening series between Roberto’s Blue Jays and Sandy’s Indians.
Roberto serves as a special assistant to the Toronto organization. He runs baseball camps across Canada and advises the front office on various matters. Sandy earned his first taste of managing last September, when he piloted Cleveland through the final six contests of a choppy season. He stuck with the club as bench coach when the Indians hired Terry Francona as skipper.
“Mom and Dad must be really proud of them,” said Indians first baseman Nick Swisher.
Not only are they proud, but they’re a bit relieved. Now that their sons aren’t on the field, it requires less of an avid investment on their end after rooting for their sons’ teams for two decades. The closest Sandy gets to the field now is when he strolls to home plate before first pitch each night to exchange lineup cards. Roberto comfortably observes games at Rogers Centre from his suite along the third-base line.
Life wasn’t always so relaxed.
“My mom would always go nuts when I played against Robbie in the postseason,” Sandy said.
TORONTO — The Indians won their first series of the season. That is the main takeaway from Cleveland’s opening act north of the border. The other is that this new brand of offense already appears more resilient than the lineup assembled last season.
As for Thursday night, the Indians would probably prefer to quickly forget about what took place on the mound in the finale of this three-game series at Rogers Centre. Starter Brett Myers labored through a difficult season debut for the Tribe, putting too much pressure on Cleveland’s determined cast of hitters in a 10-8 loss.
“The only person at fault here is me,” Myers said.
It will not be too hard for the Indians to head to Tampa Bay with their chins up.
That is because there is this: the Tribe took two out of three in the much-anticipated season-opening set against an overhauled Blue Jays squad considered to be World Series contenders. That is not a bad way to get the year rolling for Cleveland.
The batting lineup hasn’t been released, but most likely similar to yesterday’s and Tuesday’s. ;(
SP: Brett Myers :D
• The Indians are seeking their first season-opening sweep since 1998, when they started the year on a six-game winning streak en route to winning the AL Central with an 89-73 record.
• Jose Bautista is 3-for-7 in his career against [Brett] Myers with one homer and four RBIs.
• Nick Swisher is 10-for-25 [.400] with seven walks in his career against [Mark] Buehrle. His .531 on-base percentage is tied for the best among all players with more than 30 plate appearances against the southpaw.
Cleveland Indians: Stats | Depth Chart
1. CF: Michael Bourn
2. SS: Asdrubal Cabrera
3. 2B: Jason Kipnis
4. 1B: Nick Swisher
5. LF: Michael Brantley
6. C: Carlos Santana
7. DH: Mark Reynolds
8. 3B: Lonnie Chisenhall
9. RF: Drew Stubbs
SP: Ubaldo Jimenez
Tribe baseball is BACK! #playball #tribeopener (via @bastianmlb)
TORONTO — Things have changed drastically for Indians reliever Cody Allen in the past year.
Allen earned a spot in Cleveland’s bullpen this spring and was on hand at Rogers Centre for the club’s Opening Day tilt with the Blue Jays. Toronto’s cavernous domed ballpark was expecting a sellout crowd, providing quite a contrast to Allen’s Opening Day experience last season.
Allen was with Class A Carolina for Opening Day in 2012.
“I think there were a few fireworks or something like that,” Allen said with a laugh.
Indians manager Terry Francona, on the Blue Jays
As he watched it all unfold from the visitors’ dugout, new manager Terry Francona — a man with two World Series rings and a life spent in and around the game — found himself overwhelmed by nerves.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time,” Francona said. “I was so nervous the whole game — it surprised me. I think I kind of came to realize early in the game how much I care about these guys already. It hit me like a ton of bricks.”
And as if it were planned this way, with the most drama being saved for the last of the teams’ official openers, we’ll finally see the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays, who have been picked by many to jump up and win the AL East on the strength of the amazing roster renovation they underwent in a wild winter by general manager Alex Anthopoulos, at 7:07 p.m. ET on Tuesday at Rogers Centre in Canada.
The Jays begin the year against a Cleveland Indians club that looks quite different, itself, with new manager Terry Francona, plus outfield additions Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher, among others. Toronto added star power with Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Melky Cabrera, Emilio Bonifacio, and perhaps most significantly, last year’s NL Cy Young Award winner, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.
It’ll be Dickey who throws the first pitch for the Jays in 2013, the last pitch in a series of Opening Day starts that we’ve all been anticipating for a long time.
“It’s going to be really loud,” Dickey said, “and it should be a fantastic night for all of us.”
The Indians made their roster decisions last week, but now everything is official. Cleveland put the final touches on its Opening Day roster with a handful of transactions on Sunday afternoon.
To round out their bench, the Indians selected the contract of utility man Ryan Raburn from Triple-A Columbus and added him to the active roster. The Tribe cleared a spot on its 40-man roster for Raburn by designating left-hander David Huff for assignment.
The Indians also placed right-hander Frank Herrmann — expected to miss all of the coming season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow earlier this month — on the 15-day disabled list.
Cleveland will open the 2013 season against the Blue Jays at 7:07 p.m. ET on Tuesday in Toronto.
That’s the beauty of it. Revenue sharing, national and regional TV money and the advent of extra Wild Cards have compressed the talent and increased the quirkiness in this sport arguably like never before.
In recent months, we saw the Indians and Pirates plucking free agents from the Yankees. We saw the Blue Jays and Dodgers adding incredibly costly payroll commitments to their rosters and inviting both optimism and scrutiny in the process, because every single one of those guys they added is accompanied by a legitimate question mark. And while we know that payroll can put a team in a better position to contend year over year, the stunning successes of the A’s and O’s a season ago are a reminder of the quirks that exist within a single season.
This season has the potential to be as random as ever, and I love the chaos of that. I love that I can give you some really strong reasons why the Nats will win the World Series and you can come back with some really strong reasons why I have no idea what the heck I’m talking about.
That, ultimately, is what you want on Opening Day. You want a reason to come back for game two and all that follows.
Who are these teams scheduled to congregate on the field at the Rogers Centre on Tuesday? They certainly don’t bear much resemblance to the pair of clubs that filled the dugouts at Progressive Field a year ago, when the Blue Jays topped the Indians in an Opening Day-record 16-inning affair.
Both Cleveland and Toronto applied face lifts to their rosters over a winter littered with trades, free-agent signings and managerial hires.
“I think it’s phenomenal,” said Indians left fielder Michael Brantley. “Right out of the gate, you’re going to have two teams that brought in a lot of new faces, and a lot of great players. Right out of the gate, we’re going to see what we’re both made of and, hopefully, we’ll have a great opening series.”