The Cleveland Indians have most positions on the roster solidified for at least the start of the regular season.
But center field stands out as a huge question mark.
The initial competition seemed to be between Bradley Zimmer and Oscar Mercado.
Both men must have been hit with some real concern when Amed Rosario was announced as the latest player to get a chance at the position this spring.
Rosario had a disastrous three-error debut in center Tuesday and that could have been the end of the experiment.
However, cleveland.com’s Joe Noga wrote an article Wednesday night with several notes from spring training, including the competition in center.
He reported that Rosario will be back in center Thursday when the Indians take on the Chicago Cubs.
After he finished his outing today, Shane Bieber found Amed Rosario, who committed three errors in three innings in his first real game in center field, and told him: "Listen man, this stuff's hard. Don't get down on yourself. Keep your head up."
— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) March 16, 2021
Rosario Getting Another Shot in Center
“The challenge to that is that we’re still trying to figure out who’s going to be our center fielder,” Francona said in the article.
“You kind of run out of opportunities. At some point you want whoever it’s going to be to play back to back.”
That is more than fair considering it was really Rosario’s first real game action in center.
So he will get back out there again and see if he can avoid dropping balls.
Amed Rosario made a catch after his first two drops, but on a single in shallow center, he booted the ball while fielding it before throwing the ball away, permitting another run to score.
Then Ohtani hit a ball to Las Vegas.
Angels lead it 9-2 in the third.
— Mandy Bell (@MandyBell02) March 16, 2021
The article also said both Ben Gamel and Daniel Johnson will not be added to the competition.
That means it is down to Rosario, Zimmer, and Mercado.
Having three players all fighting for one job is a bit of a concern at this point in the spring.
Predicting the Eventual Winner
Rosario faces an uphill battle, even though he is getting another chance this week.
But he still may have a slight advantage if there is such low faith in both Zimmer and Mercado.
However, not being able to catch balls in the outfield is not going to work.
This writer’s guess is Mercado opening the season as the starter.
Rosario could begin as a reserve infielder and still get practice reps in center.
As for Zimmer, he is another former top prospect who could be on his way out in 2021.
It is tough to predict because we are so close to the season and this competition just got another entrant.
Thursday should reveal more as Rosario gets a chance to redeem himself.
If he looks awful again, we may be back to square one with little time to spare.
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