Indians' endurance test winner is a stunner

Indians' endurance test winner is a stunner

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Francisco Lindor had every intention of defending his victory in the Indians' annual endurance test on Tuesday morning. What the shortstop could not have predicted was the underdog story that unfolded on the agility field at Cleveland's Spring Training complex.

Minor League catcher Jeremy Lucas -- a non-roster addition who joined the team last week to help handle the pitching staff -- kept pace with Lindor, who eventually crouched down and motioned to a team trainer that he was finished. Lucas completed a final 40-yard jog, disappearing into a mob of teammates who cheered on his unexpected win.

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"That was unbelievable," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "I thought that was really something."

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All of Cleveland's position players ran a series of timed 40-yard circuits, going until they were either disqualified for not running within the allotted time or they dropped out voluntarily. Lucas did not take part in the previous test for pitchers and catchers due to being a late addition to the Indians' camp. Instead, he outlasted the American League's runner-up for Rookie of the Year.

Veterans Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley were among the final handful of players to stop.

"I was really pleased," Francona said. "You expect the younger guys to probably do pretty well, but when you see Brantley and Kip, they don't have to keep doing that. They're going to play. But, it makes you feel good when you see those guys doing those things."

Francona's pick, Triple-A outfielder Tyler Naquin, lasted a long time, but could not come away with a win.

"He may be starting out in A-ball," Francona joked.

Other noteworthy items from Tuesday:

• Before the workout, Francona delivered his annual speech to the team, setting a tone for the long season ahead. Even entering his 16th season as a manager, Francona said he still gets nervous in the days leading up to giving his message to the whole group.

"I admit, I care about the meeting a lot," Francona said. "It's amazing. I've been doing it for a long time, but I still get anxiety over it. And, until it's over, it's a responsibility that I take really seriously. I told the guys, to be able to stand up in front of them is an honor. I want to treat it as that."

Zach Walters, who has played mostly infield throughout his career, will spend the early part of Spring Training working only as an outfielder, according to Francona. The manager said Walters would be given a chance to compete for one of the available outfield jobs.

• Right-handers Josh Tomlin and Cody Anderson, who are the main candidates for the fifth rotation spot, will start the first two Cactus League games (March 1-2), respectively. Righty Danny Salazar will start on March 3.

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