GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- More often than not, second baseman Jason Kipnis and shortstop Francisco Lindor were on different infields for Spring Training workouts a year ago. The Indians mapped things out that way, because Kipnis was going to be partnered with Jose Ramirez to begin the season.
This spring, Kipnis and Lindor are rarely apart. If they are not joking around together in the clubhouse, they are heading to the batting cage to get some swings in. When the time comes to take infield practice, Kipnis and Lindor are up the middle, continuing to build on the double-play rapport they began to establish in the big leagues last summer.
"It's very important," Lindor said. "The way we did things [last spring], we had guys on Field 2 and guys on Field 1. Last year, I didn't work with him. If I played three games with him, it was a lot. Working out with him during Spring Training is going to be very, very helpful."
After Lindor was promoted to the Majors last June, taking over for Ramirez at shortstop for Cleveland, he and Kipnis had to learn each other's tendencies and defensive preferences on the fly. It certainly helps that Lindor is one of the more talented shortstops in baseball, but there were still intricacies that he and Kipnis had become familiar with as swiftly as possible.
"Arm angles, arm slots, where they like the ball around the bag," Kipnis said. "Their speed of the game. How fast they get to the bag. Their range. Just little stuff. Who they are as a player and stuff that they like."
Kipnis and Lindor began that process last summer, but there is no better environment for honing a double-play partnership than Spring Training.
"It always helps when you have time to get used to each other," Kipnis said, "to work together in the mornings, to get some game experience with each other before the actual season. It's just furthering the relationship that we started last year. When you play with someone who comes up in the middle of the year, it's a little difficult to get in a rhythm.
"You guys are both just doing the best you can, just being gamers. You're making the plays, but you really start to get comfortable with people after you get more and more game experience with each other."