Antonetti excited about present and future of Indians

Antonetti excited about present and future of Indians

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians have gained momentum in national predictions this spring, creating high expectations for a club that just fell short of the postseason last year. General manager Chris Antonetti said his excitement is not limited to the season ahead.

"I'm excited about not only where we are for this year, but as we look forward organizationally," Antonetti said on Thursday morning. "When you look at the combination of the leaders we have in place -- [manager Terry Francona], the coaching staff -- and then as you look at our player roster, the majority of our roster is under control for at least three seasons.

"Then, add to that, that we feel we've made a lot of progress on our Minor League side and have a wave of players that are either ready or near ready to contribute at the Major League level. It's a good spot to be in. Again, we still have a lot of work to do. Just because it's a good feeling and we feel good about how it looks on paper, that doesn't mean things are just going to work out.

"We have to make sure we all stay focused and contine to work on getting better."

Here are some more notes and quotes:

• The Indians met with the agents for ace Corey Kluber earlier this spring, but the sides have yet to reach an agreement on a potential contract extension. Antonetti reiterated on Thursday that Cleveland prefers not to let any negotiations linger into the regular season.

"I'll stay away from any one specifically," Antonetti said. "But what we try to do is, once the season starts, have all of our focus be on preparing and winning games, and trying to minimize distractions. That's a clear preference. It's how we've tried to operate in the past, so I expect that's how we'll move forward again this year."

• Indians top prospect, shortstop Francisco Lindor, impressed the Major League staff during his time in camp earlier this spring. Antonetti said Lindor's strides during Spring Training were not limited to his outstanding play on the field.

"He's got great skills and he's a talented player," Antonetti said. "But the thing that stood out this spring is the way he went about his work, the way he sought feedback from coaches, from players. Every day, he woke up with, 'How do I get better today as a player? Who can I tap into today?'"

• Antonetti emphasized again that there is no established timetable for the return of veteran Nick Swisher (surgery on both knees in August). "What we're most concerned about is helping Swish to be in a position to be healthy and to impact our team."

• Cleveland will open the season with eight relievers, which is something Francona has done often in his time with the Tribe. Having versatile utility man Mike Aviles on the bench makes it possible. Said Francona: "It allows us to go with really a short bench and not feel like we're short."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.