October 23, 2014

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Indians Notes: Draft pick Clint Frazier gets warm welcome, good-natured ribbing

CLEVELAND — When outfielder Clint Frazier walked into the Indians’ clubhouse after signing his first professional contract Saturday, he was greeted in classic baseball fashion.
Every position player on the Tribe’s roster was wearing a red clown wig in honor of the first-round draft pick — and curly haired ginger — officially joining the organization.
“I thought it was hilarious and awesome to see a bunch of major leaguers all wearing red hair, just like I have,” Frazier said, smiling broadly. “I’m still sky-high about signing a major league contract, but to come in today and have them do that, it made me feel accepted right away.”
Frazier, who was the No. 5 selection in the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft earlier this month, inked his $3.5 million, multiyear deal early in the afternoon at Progressive Field.
The 18-year-old from Loganville (Ga.) High also took batting practice on the field before Cleveland’s game against Washington, and had private meetings with manager Terry Francona and designated hitter Jason Giambi.
“I remember playing as (Giambi) on a video game, so to get advice from him is more than I could have asked for,” said Frazier, who batted .485 with 17 homers, 45 RBIs and 56 runs in 32 games as a senior. “He has kind of taken me under his wing since yesterday. He even gave me his phone number, along with a lot of great advice, which I’ll take with me for a long time.”
Though Frazier was a third baseman until his junior season at Loganville, Indians amateur scouting director Brad Grant said the organization envisions him “playing center field for the long term.”
The 5-foot-11 right-handed hitter will report to the Tribe’s year-round training facility in Goodyear, Ariz., today. He is expected to make his minor league debut Thursday in the Arizona Rookie League.
Frazier was the first high school outfielder chosen by the Indians since Hall of Fame candidate Manny Ramirez in 1991.
“Guys with his talent usually fly through the system because they’re so talented,” Francona said. “I hope that’s the case here because I found Clint to be very polite and very respectful.
“I’ll talk to him again tomorrow before he flies out, but I’m impressed with what I’ve seen from him so far. Our scouts seem to have done a great job in evaluating him.”
Downward spiral
Third baseman Mark Reynolds continues to slump badly in June, hitting just .122 (5-for-41) with one RBI in 11 games entering Saturday. Since the end of April, the strikeout-prone slugger had only 27 hits in 142 at-bats (.190).
Reynolds’ slump has intensified since he was shifted from designated hitter following the May 13 demotion of third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall to Triple-A Columbus, but he told Francona that it wasn’t affecting him at the plate.
“I’ve asked Mark about that because the last thing you want to do is cause a problem for one of your players,” Francona said before the game. “But he said the slump just coincided with the move.
“Honestly, and this isn’t a criticism, but he’s probably not a .300 hitter. When Mark gets going again — and he will — they won’t be singles. I’m positive about that.”
Reynolds homered Saturday.
Change of plans
Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez has been bumped back one day in the rotation, while righty Carlos Carrasco will take his scheduled spot Monday against Kansas City.
Carrasco (0-2, 15.26 ERA) will return from his MLB suspension to take on Royals righty James Shields (2-6, 2.79 ERA) in the three-game series opener.
Jimenez (5-4, 4.79 ERA) challenges Kansas City righty Ervin Santana (5-5, 2.74) on Tuesday.
“Ubaldo is not hurt, but he asked for an extra day between starts,” Francona said. “His throwing session yesterday was terrific, but when guys talk to us, we listen to them.”
Extra innings
The Indians (17,521) no longer have the worst average home attendance in baseball, moving past the Miami Marlins (17,341). Tampa Bay (17,618) is third from the bottom and could be hopped over by the Tribe this weekend.