CLEVELAND — Editor's note: the video in the player above is from Feb. 12, 2021.
While Opening Day is still more than a month away, in at least one meaningful way, Cleveland Indians baseball is back.
On Wednesday, Indians pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Goodyear, Arizona, marking the unofficial start of the team's 2021 Spring Training. According to the calendar on the Indians' official website, Cleveland's pitchers and catchers will hold their first workout on Thursday, with the Indians' full squad reporting on Sunday, Feb. 21, before holding their first official workout the following day.
The 2021 season will mark a new era of sorts for baseball in Cleveland after the Indians traded Francisco Lindor to the New York Mets in a blockbuster trade in January. From a pitching perspective, the upcoming season will mark the first since 2008 that Carlos Carrasco hasn't been a member of Cleveland's roster, as the veteran right-hander was dealt to the Mets alongside Lindor.
Yet despite the departures of Carrasco, Mike Clevinger, Corey Kluber, and Trevor Bauer over the course of the past two years, the Indians starting rotation is expected to remain one of the best in baseball. After winning the American League Cy Young Award in 2020, Shane Bieber returns as Cleveland's ace, with Zach Plesac, Aaron Civale, Triston McKenzie, Adam Plutko, Cal Quantrill and Logan Allen providing manager Terry Francona with a plethora of options to fill out his rotation.
As far as the bullpen is concerned, James Karinchak is expected to get the first crack at replacing Brad Hand as Cleveland's closer, with Nick Wittgren and Emmanuel Clase also expected to play prominent roles. At catcher, two-time Gold Glove Award winner Roberto Perez and Austin Hedges should give the Indians the best defensive tandem in baseball.
Follow along with 3News and WKYC.com for live updates all throughout Spring Training.