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Three Positives From the Week of March 17th

Three positive story lines from the final full week of Spring Training. The next one will be stories from the regular season, we made it!

As we begin yet another work week, take some time out of your hectic morning to close your eyes, think about baseball, and be transported to your happy place. The corner of Carnegie and Ontario. Or Goodyear, Arizona.

Cookie Makes the Team

15 years after he debuted with the Cleveland Indians, Carlos Carrasco was told on Friday that he made the Opening Day roster. While it’s not been confirmed if he will be the fifth starter or a long relief option in the bullpen, most don’t care what he does as long as he’s a member of the team. Traded to the New York Mets on 2021 with Francisco Lindor, he returned to Cleveland on a Minor League contract on February 1, 2024.

Traded to Cleveland in 2009 from the Phillies as a return for Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco, Carrasco was a staple in Cleveland for 12 years. From his first pitch on September 1, 2009 to powering through his leukemia diagnosis and winning the Comeback Player of the Year award in 2019, there are countless positive memories of Cookie on this team and I can’t think of a single fan who won’t be happy for him today.

Bieber Ties Cleveland Record

On Tuesday, the team announced that Shane Bieber would be the Opening Day starter. This marks his fifth year in a row in this position, tying the record for the longest streak in franchise history. He ties Corey Kluber (2015-2019) and Stan Coveleski (1917-1921) for this feat.

Bieber was drafted by Cleveland in the fourth round of the 2016 draft and made his Major League debut on May 31, 2018. Although it was in the COVID-shortened season of 2020, Bieber won the Cy Young award by securing the pitching triple crown with eight wins, a 1.63 ERA, and 122 strikeouts. While he’s had his ups and downs since then, he is still our ace and very deserving of the Opening Day starter role.

Rocchio Locked in at Shortstop

One of the leading headlines of Spring for the Guardians was who would earn the starting shortstop role. The battle was between Brayan Rocchio and Gabriel Arias. Rocchio had proven himself in the Guardians’ system the past few years, but the team hadn’t seen how he’d stack up against Major League talent. Arias, on the other hand, had been with the Major League team for the majority of the 2022 and 2023 seasons.

What made the team go with Rocchio? It was just the slightest gap in numbers, Rocchio’s .270/.308/.460 versus Arias’ .206/.270/.353. They split the time at shortstop pretty evenly this spring with Rocchio getting 39 plate appearances against Arias’ 37. Only time will tell if this was the right decision, but if Chris Antonetti really wants to let the kids play, this is how to do it.