Feeling strong, Urshela putting up healthy numbers

Feeling strong, Urshela putting up healthy numbers

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Giovanny Urshela's numbers at the plate might lead one to believe he's simply a guy who's hot in Cactus League play. It could be a desert mirage that will fizzle once the regular season starts.

Or you might side with Urshela, who says it's all about finally being healthy and showing what he can do.

Indians Spring Training info

Either way, Urshela has been smoldering this spring. After Cleveland's 4-2 win over Texas on Monday, the third baseman led the club with three home runs, nine RBIs and he was batting .320 (8-for-25).

"I'm trying to do my best right now and they'll make their decision," said Urshela, who made his Major League debut with the Indians on June 9, and appeared in 81 big league games, starting 76 of them at the hot corner, and slashed .225/.279/.330 with six homers in 267 at-bats.

"But my goal is to stay healthy all year."

Urshela's spinning stop

Last year, the soft-spoken infielder from Colombia was coming off a promising year at the plate. He split time between Double-A and Triple-A in 2014 and combined for 18 homers, 84 RBIs, 36 doubles and an OPS of .825. But he hurt his back during Spring Training, missed the first month of the Triple-A season, and by the time he was back in Columbus and then in Cleveland, he had an assortment of additional issues with his back, knee and shoulders.

Then Cleveland signed veteran third baseman Juan Uribe to a one-year, $4 million contract on Feb. 28.

Urshela is playing like he wants to win that job anyway, and the Cleveland staff likes what they're seeing. A lot.

"He looks good," Tribe manager Terry Francona said. "He worked hard this winter. Like a lot of us, he's going to have to work. That's not a bad thing. But to his credit, he worked hard, and he's a lot stronger.

"He's always been able to play third. He can play third like nobody's business. He's got some developing to do at the plate, and that's not a bad thing ether. That's just part of the game. He's a really good kid. I think one of the things that was so impressive last year … he was fighting a lot of things. He was fighting his shoulders, everything. And he wasn't hitting like he wanted to. But you never saw him throw a helmet. And it wasn't like he didn't care. He stayed in the game, made all the plays defensively, and seemed to really care about winning. And I like that. That's a good thing."

Urshela said he's not taking his hot start for granted. He said he knows what he has to do while he's here and that he now has the physical ability to do it.

"I feel healthy," Urshela said. "I worked hard in the offseason, too. Last year I didn't work hard that much because of all the injuries. Now I feel strong for the season."

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.