Encarnacion to debut in Tribe's Cactus opener

Encarnacion to debut in Tribe's Cactus opener

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The goal for Edwin Encarnacion during his first two weeks of camp was to get to know his new Indians teammates and become comfortable with his change of scenery. On the eve of Cleveland's first Cactus League game, Encarnacion has been impressed with the atmosphere around the Tribe.

"This team, they are together," Encarnacion said on Friday. "Everybody is together. They are one team. That's a difference you see in other teams sometimes. Here, everybody is together. The American guys, Latin guys. it's all one. That's a big difference from other teams."

The Indians added Encarnacion over the winter to be a difference-maker.

Outlook: Encarnacion, 1B/DH, CLE

For Saturday's 3:05 p.m. ET/1:05 MST Cactus League opener against the Reds -- live on MLB.TV -- Encarnacion will make his debut as Cleveland's new cleanup hitter. Atop the lineup will be designated hitter Carlos Santana, followed by third baseman Jose Ramirez, shortstop Francisco Lindor, Encarnacion at first base and Yan Gomes behind the plate.

Highly-touted prospects Bradley Zimmer (No. 1 on the Tribe's Top 30 prospects list, per MLBPipeline.com) and Greg Allen (No. 9) will hit sixth and eighth, respectively, in the spring-opening order. Allen will start in center, while Zimmer (normally a center fielder) will move to right. Daniel Robertson will play left and bat seventh, and second baseman Michael Martinez will hit ninth.

Lefty Ryan Merritt, who took the ball in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series and helped push the Indians into the World Series, will start the first game of the spring.

Following roughly two weeks of workouts, Indians manager Terry Francona said he always looks forward to getting games started.

"I think everybody does," Francona said. "I think there's like that natural progression. [You're excited] for a lot of reasons. It lets the guys just start to get some at-bats, and you get to see the younger guys get in games -- things like that. And it's going to be a long spring. I mean, we're not even into March, but it's always nice to play a game."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com 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.