Norwalk Reflector: Tribe All-Stars answer questions about first half

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Tribe All-Stars answer questions about first half

By PAUL HOYNES • Jul 17, 2018 at 1:51 PM

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Indians were represented by six American League All-Stars Tuesday night at Nationals Park. It's the largest class of players they've sent to an All-Star Game since 1999.

Jose Ramirez will be the AL's starting third baseman. Also representing the Indians was right-handers Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer, shortstop Francisco Lindor, left fielder Michael Brantley and catcher Yan Gomes.

Kluber did not pitch after receiving an injection in his right knee following Thursday's start against the Yankees. Bauer, who threw seven innings in Sunday's 5-2 win, was expected to only pitch if the game goes into extra innings. Lindor, Brantley and Gomes were available to AL manager A.J. Hinch.

In Monday's media day, the six Indians were popular stops for the massed media. Here are some of the questions they were asked and how they answered them.

1. Ramirez makes second straight All-Star start

Jose Ramirez entered Tuesday's All-Star Game hitting .302 with 26 doubles, 29 homers and 70 RBI. He's tied for the AL home-run lead with Boston's J.D. Martinez at 29 each. He's running second to Martinez in RBI, 80 to 70.

"He's turned into a monster," manager Terry Francona said, just before the break, "and he's getting better."

While Ramirez surged, the Indians played inconsistently going into the break. They still enjoy a 7.5 game lead in the AL Central after going 52-43, the fewest wins among any division leader.

Here's how Ramirez responded to two questions about the Tribe's inconsistent play.

No. 1: What do the Indians have to do better to improve coming out of the break?

"We just need to keep playing ball like we've been playing ball," Ramirez said. "We've been playing good ball and we just need to keep it up."

No. 2: Do the Indians have to make a trade?

"That's for the front office to talk about," Ramirez said. "They have a lot more knowledge than me or any other ball player."

2. Kluber makes third straight All-Star appearance

Corey Kluber entered break at 12-5 with a 2.76 ERA. He ranks third in the AL in innings pitched and 10th in strikeouts. After his last start, he had a lubricant injected in his right knee that made unavailable to pitch in Tuesday night's Midsummer Classic.

No. 1: What do the Indians have to do to get better?

"You're always looking to get better whether you're satisfied with your record or not," Kluber said. "Offenses will look to improve. Pitchers will look to improve. The idea is to hopefully be playing your best baseball if you're fortunate enough to make the postseason."

No. 2: Is there a moment from the first half that stands out to you?

"I don't think we've really had one moment that stands out," he said. "We've played really well at times. At others we haven't played as well as we'd like to. But in the grand scheme of things we're in a good position to improve in the second half and get to the postseason."

No. 3: How is your knee and how long had it been bothering you?

“I think we're on the right track with it," he said. "I don't know the exact day it started, but I'd say a few weeks or so."

No. 4: Is it something that you'll have to take care of at the end of the year?

"We haven't even talked about that," Kluber said. "I don't think it's at that point yet."

3. Bauer enjoying first All-Star experience

Bauer, appearing in his first All-Star Game, is coming off the best 20-game stretch of his career. He's 8-6 with a 2.24 ERA.

Bauer ranks second in the AL in ERA and innings pitched at 136 1/3. He ranks third with 175 strikeouts and sixth with a .208 batting average against.

No. 1: Some studies have shown there is a difference in the baseballs being used this year. Have you noticed anything?

"It's just a ball," Bauer said. "I train myself a lot in the offseason to be able to handle all sorts of different sizes, shapes and weights (with weighted balls). So I probably notice it less.

"I mean I can feel if a ball is slightly bigger or not," he added. "I'm a big believer in science. I've read a lot of the articles. I like the process they've gone through. I think their findings are interesting, but I don't have a definitive. ... I noticed X, Y, Z."

No. 2: Have you noticed if the ball is traveling farther this year?

"Shoot, the balls are traveling way less for me this year," said Bauer, who allowed just six homers in the first half. "I'm not giving up homers ever. Now watch, I'll give up 20 in the second half since I said that."

No. 3: What's the one thing you're looking forward to doing since this is your first All-Star Game?

"I just want to be there and watch the game," he said. "Everybody here is a very special player. A lot of times when you're surrounded by the best of the best you exceed what you'd do during the regular season. I'm looking forward at seeing the game played at the highest possible level."

4. Lindor back in the spotlight

Francisco Lindor, appearing in his third straight All-Star Game, came to Nationals Park hitting .291 and tied for third with 25 homers. Lindor leads the big leagues with 85 runs and ranks second in the AL in multi-hit game and third in total bases.

No. 1: You have a 7.5-game lead in the AL Central over the Twins and their front office says they're going to be more sellers than buyers at the deadline. Is that trap for the Indians?

“The front office is going to do whatever they want," Lindor said. "That's their job. We focus in on what we have in Cleveland. We have to make sure we take care of business and do everything the right way. The last thing I'm worried about is the (Twins') front office. No disrespect intended. That's their job. We have to worry about winning."

No. 2: How special is sharing this All-Star Game with five teammates?

"It's very special," he said. "We all came here on the same plane. It seems like every year we keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger. Hopefully, next year we have 10."

No. 3: Do the Indians have to make a trade in the second half to get better?

"That's the front office's job," Lindor said. "If they do make a trade, they're not going to do it to make us worse."

No. 4: Was there a moment that stood out to you in the first half?

"Josie's home runs," he said, referring to Ramirez.

5. Brantley an All-Star again

Left fielder Michael Brantley is appearing in his third All-Star Game and second in as many years.

Brantley is hitting .308 with 12 homers and 56 RBI. He's scored 55 runs and posted an .848 OPS in 84 games.

No. 1: How does it feel to have your own row of tables (in the media interview room) with six members of the Indians?

"It's awesome," Brantley said. "It's a credit to how hard this team works. It's a team effort all the way around. It's a credit to how skill they are and how talented our organization is from top to bottom."

No. 2: What's your best memory from the first half?

"That we're leading in the division," he said. "I think that's the most important. We're playing quality baseball, but we need to get better and that's what we're aiming to do."

No. 3: Does this team need to make a trade to get better?

"That's up to the front office," he said. "I know every guy that walks through the door of our locker room is going to help us out in some certain way. Our job is to go out there and play quality baseball."

6. Gomes relishing All-Star return

Catcher Yan Gomes found out he was named to the AL All-Star team when he came to the plate Saturday night with two out in the ninth inning to face Yankee closer Aroldis Chapman.

Gomes, who replaced Tampa Bay's injured Wilson Ramos, is hitting .247 with 10 doubles and 32 homers.

No. 1: What stands out about the first half for you?

"At first we had issues with our bullpen," Gomes said. "Then we weren't hitting. Then just to see how capable we are when everyone starts playing — I won't say to their full capacity — but when everyone just starts playing like themselves.

"I think we have a really good bullpen for over a month," he added. "We've been waiting on Andrew Miller to get healthy and come back. When he does I think we'll be pretty good."

No. 2: What has this been like since you first learned you wear going to be an All-Star in the ninth inning Saturday night to right now?

"I'm still taking it in," he said. "I told my wife I'm taking pictures of everything. I took a picture of my name plaque behind me. I'm just soaking it in and enjoying it.

"Saturday night I don't think I went to sleep until about 4 a.m," Gomes added. "All I could think about was did that just happen? I'm really glad to be here. I still think it's a joke, but I don't think it is."

No. 3: What does being the first Brazilian-born player to make the All-Star team mean to you?

"It's a tremendous honor," he said. "I try to do my best to represent Brazil to show the kind of talent we have. I know we're known mostly for soccer, but if I can be any kind of role model for anybody that's what I'm doing.

"I hope this is a step in that direction for baseball in Brazil," Gomes added. "If they can use me as a resource for anything, I'm open to it."

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