The Cleveland Indians are going with a platoon approach at several positions to start the 2021 season.
One of those is center field, where Jordan Luplow got the start Thursday.
Ben Gamel, a left-handed hitter, came in for him later in the game.
First base is the other spot where Terry Francona is apparently platooning players.
Instead, Yu Chang got the start on Opening Day in his new utility role.
So will this continue throughout the year?
Jordan Luplow will start in CF on Opening Day tomorrow. Yu Chang will start at 1B. The Tigers are starting a left-handed pitcher.
— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) March 31, 2021
Figuring Out First Base
The Indians lost Carlos Santana in the offseason and first base was immediately thrown into question.
One option was to spend some money and sign a veteran replacement.
Obviously, that was never in the plans.
The competition then came down to Bauers, Bradley, and potentially Josh Naylor.
Naylor was then assigned to right field and Bauers won the competition over Bradley.
Bauers is also out of minor league options so he won by default in a way.
Chang, on the other hand, won the utility role and will struggle to find playing time because of the sure options at third base, shortstop, and second base.
So will he get platoon work at first often, or was it just an Opening Day thing?
An Ongoing Discussion All Season
Everyone has to remember that Chang only started in one game.
Bauers should be back in there Saturday and whenever a right-handed pitcher gets the start.
But if he is already in a platoon role, that doesn’t speak well for the confidence the organization has in him at the start of the year.
Love seeing Yu Chang getting the Opening Day start at 1B vs the lefty. 👇 https://t.co/9Lxj7ThnZh
— Indians Prospective (@indiansPro) March 31, 2021
Bauers is a player who could end up being released or traded as the season goes on.
If that did happen, Bradley would be the one to take the job.
Chang should remain as the utility guy for the entire season, barring any injuries or a total offensive explosion on his part.
Bauers and Chang combined to go hitless from the first base slot Thursday.
Interestingly enough, Amed Rosario pinch-hit in that spot and got a single late in the game.
The Indians are a team where competition is going to continue throughout the season.
It would be a shock if the Opening Day lineup looked the same as the lineup will look in September.
Or even July for that matter.
No one should be overreacting after one single game to start the season.
For now, we can enjoy the shots of Chang smiling during the blizzard Thursday.
His joy is amazing to watch.