With an attendance record of 1,086,720 fans and a 32 percent increase in television ratings from 2013, there is no denying the 2017 World Baseball Classic was a hit for a wide-ranging international audience.
Now that the United States defeated Puerto Rico and conquered its first WBC crown on Wednesday, it is time to direct attention toward the 2017 major league season beginning on Apr. 3.
- Between a bevy of roster cuts and seven returners from the WBC, there is plenty of work to be done in what figures to be a busy 10 days for Terry Francona.
The Indians skipper shared his thoughts on having players away from spring training and when he expects them to log action in the Cactus League this weekend.
"You still get nervous," said Francona to reporters about his WBC players. "I've been pretty vocal about how I've felt about our guys not being here."
Roberto Perez will reportedly DH on Friday while Francisco Lindor is slated to play on Saturday. Francona has yet to map out a date of return for Andrew Miller.
- The alignment of the opening day infield is still a question mark with eight games remaining on the Tribe's spring schedule. Although he got the day off on Thursday, Yandy Diaz has been the biggest storyline this week after batting .722 (13-for-18) with eight RBIs in his last six contests.
"If you're going to bring up a guy for three days, I'm not sure you're going to burn a roster spot," Francona said. "If we feel like he's ready to help us, I don't think that roster spot is going to stand in the way."
Giovanny Urshela and Richie Shaffer have also started at third base but may be out of the conversation if Erik Gonzalez or Michael Martinez claim second base.
Due to the injury of Jason Kipnis (right shoulder inflammation), the structure of the infield is far from reaching a resolution.