Tribe's annual endurance test doesn't disappoint

Tribe's annual endurance test doesn't disappoint

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Francisco Lindor slammed a bat into the grass and let out a shout. It was a move meant as motivation for catcher Roberto Perez, who was trying to pull off an unexpected victory in the Indians' annual endurance test for pitchers and catchers.

For the past few years, Cleveland has held the test, which has become more competitive with each spring. The players do a series of timed sprints and -- whether by going too slow or by deciding to drop out -- there is only one man standing at the finish. This year, Perez and fellow catcher Yan Gomes made it to the final three, but it was pitching prospect Dylan Baker who outlasted everyone for the win.

"Good for him," Indians manager Terry Francona said with a smile. "He's going to get to call home tonight and tell the family, tell the folks, 'I kicked everybody's [tail].' Good for him."

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As has become tradition, Francona, his coaches, front-office members and other staffers get their picks in before the test, which is first held for pitchers and catchers and then again for position players after the full squad reports. Cody Anderson won the event last spring and was a popular choice to defend his crown. One veteran Tribe pitcher remarked: "You heard it here first: Mike Clevinger."

Francona's horse was reliever Shawn Armstrong.

"I didn't have the winner," Francona said. "My pick threw up a little bit after."

Armstrong lasted longer than Anderson did a year ago, but the group as a whole went beyond expectations under the Arizona sun and in some strong wind. Baker, who is back on a mound again after rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, won the endurance test with 70 laps. He won after Gomes finally tapped out, following Perez also dropping to the agility field grass in exhaustion.

The fact that Gomes and Perez -- Cleveland's big league catchers -- were among the final three blew Francona away.

"That's hard for them," Francona said. "They're not built for that. I think it shows, one, how hard they work. And, two, how mentally tough they are. That's what that is."

While the pitchers and catchers ran, Jason Kipnis, Lonnie Chisenhall and a handful of other position players watched from the sidelines, shouting one-liners and laughing. The tables will be turned when they are the ones lining up along the orange cones later this week.

The event has become a favorite part of Spring Training for Francona.

"I kind of tell the guys all the time: 'Give me a reason to brag about you,'" said the manager. "That's a pretty good [way to do it]. And it wasn't just young guys, because that's normally who you think is going to. But guys like [Corey] Kluber, [Andrew] Miller, [Zach] McAllister, they were out there a long time. They don't have to be. It was impressive."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. 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.