It probably looked weird for Indians players seeing Shin-Soo Choo digging in to lead-off Friday afternoon's Spring Training game between the Tribe and Cincinnati Reds. Choo, donning red and white, wore a C on his cap, which for the first time since 2006 didn't stand for Cleveland.
Choo watched back, his first "real" at-bat in 2013, the first Spring Training exhibition of the season. He was poised, waiting, his usual patience and calmness recognizable to everyone in Goodyear Park, the two teams' training facilities.
Four straight pitches, all well outside the strike zone from lefty Giovanni Soto, and Choo headed toward first base, and for perhaps the first time, it seemed clear that the Indians' regular right-fielder for half a decade played for somebody else.
There wasn't much time for reminiscing. Soto was welcomed to the big leagues, well, the bigger leagues at least, and with two more singles, a passed ball, a walk, and a couple doubles later, Soto was on the bench in Goodyear Park having given up five earned runs. A welcome indeed.
But as it would be, as is usual in Spring Training contests with teenage prospects and a field of players born after Jim Thome was first drafted, the game was primarily a slugfest.
Each spot in the Tribe's batting order found three players, with a total of 34 Indians appearing in the game, which took an unusual pre-season time of over three hours to finish.
The Indians overcame a five-run lead early, then after falling behind, overcame a four-run lead.
The wild opening game ended in a walk-off three-run double by Mike McDade, as the Tribe opens up their Spring Training schedule with a 1-0 record.
Among the Indians' offensive standouts on day one:
1. Mike McDade, whose 3-run double with the bases loaded in the 9th won the game.
2. Ryan Raburn, who in two plate appearances, scored two runs on a walk and a solo home run.
3. Lonnie Chisenhall, who also homered in the game and finished with two RBI.
4. Michael Brantley, who doubled both times up, scored twice and drove in a run
5. Carlos Santana, who went 2-2 with a pair of RBI and a run.
Among pitchers, RHPs Vinnie Pestano and Frank Hermann each pitched a 1-2-3 inning, and Rich Hill and Matt Langwell combined to pitch three scoreless innings on a hit apiece.
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