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Cleveland Indians Considering Jason Donald for Outfield Versatility: A Fan’s Reaction
From basically day one in spring training, the Cleveland Indians noted their intentions toward expanding utility infielder Jason Donald's resume to include outfield. Executing these intentions into actions began the week of March 19 when Donald received the opportunity to play center field two consecutive days, according to MLB.com's Jordan Bastian.
Personally, while I like Jason Donald and would enjoy seeing him receive more playing time, I'm not fond about the utility player going beyond the dirt infield. The Indians acquired Donald from the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009 as a part of the trade that left Cleveland saying goodbye to 2008 Cy Young winner Cliff Lee. At the time the media referred to Donald as a minor league shortstop, leading me to this question: When was the last time prior to spring training 2012 Jason Donald played outfield?
I'm sure I speak for many Clevelanders when I say we saw enough inexperienced outfield play during 2011 after DL stints and day-to-day injuries forced Tribe skipper Manny Acta to put infielder Luis Valbuena in left field. Back to the Jason Donald situation, though. Bastian notes the Tribe want Donald to be able to play center. Honestly, I've never played baseball myself due to having a mild disability, but I imagine center field to be the hardest outfield position to play.
Given the above, I feel more comfortable if Cleveland sticks with an established outfielder for its Plan C center fielder, especially when you consider the team already finds itself relying on Plan B Michael Brantley. Outfielders Aaron Cunningham and non-roster spring training invitees Ryan Spilborghs and Felix Pie fit the established center fielder role. Problem, though: all three, as Jordan Bastian puts it, "have labored offensively this spring."
Now, Jason Donald's spring training numbers won't exactly capture attention spans either, but a promising, albeit brief, 2011 stint at the major league level surely provides hope to management and us fans. In 39 games, Donald managed to hit .318.; .300 hitters proved a commodity the Indians significantly lacked from their everyday players last season.
Still, heading into 2012 I'm not ready to exchange a potential .300 hitter getting more at-bats for watching rookie mistakes in center field.
Zachary Fenell fell in love with the Cleveland Indians during the 1995 season when the Tribe powered their way to the organization's first World Series appearance since 1954. While the Indians lost some allure since the 1990s you will still find Zachary watching the games on TV, listening to them on the radio, or best yet taking in a game from the stands at Progressive Field.
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