The premier teams in major league baseball tend to approach their grueling 162-game regular season with patience, persistence and prosperity.
For Francisco Lindor, the 23-year-old prodigy and leader of the Cleveland Indians, a slow beginning to the month of April is nothing to be concerned about, especially given the Tribe’s historic 2016 campaign that landed them within one game of their first World Series title since 1948.
“I just think that we have to just focus on what we have in front of us,” said Lindor. “Forget the past, forget how things are going, not get stressed out. We still have a long way to go, still have a lot of games to play. Yeah, we don’t want to fall too far behind, but I feel like we have the right personnel, the right group of guys to be successful.”
Lindor is holding up his end of the bargain as he features a .351/.415/.684 slash line and leads the team in runs (13), hits (20), doubles (5), triples (1) and OPS (1.100). Coming off a 2016 season in which he earned a Rawlings AL Platinum Glove and was named to the American League All-Star team, the Puerto Rico native still has championship aspirations and unfinished business in mind.
“Just got to continue to play the game the right way. Continue to have good at-bats, play good defense and do a good job of base-running,” Lindor said. “We can’t focus on what happened in the past, we just have to continue to play the game the right way. We’ve got a long way to go, still.”
Entering play on Wednesday, the Indians have a 7-7 record and are 1.5 games out of first place in the AL Central. The club is batting .200 (26-for-130) with runners in scoring position, a mark that ranks 23rd in the big leagues.
“We are doing it, we’re just not hitting at the right time,” said Lindor. “We’re just not doing situational hitting right now. But I feel like guys picked it up a little bit, guys started hitting it a little more. We’re doing it, we’re just not doing it at the right time.”
Joining Lindor atop the early-season leaderboard is Jose Ramirez with .365/.417/.654 averages and a team-best 15 RBIs. The infield duo was an integral part of last year’s momentous campaign, a year where they did not reach first place in the division until May 28, 2016.
“Last year we weren’t in first place until late May,” Lindor said. “We’ve got a long way to go. We’ve just got to make sure we stay within ourselves, not try and do too much, and continue to compete. We’ve got to have fun, we’ve got to enjoy the game day-in and day-out.”
If the defending American League champions can stand the test of time, then they may have another magical run brewing for October and November.