Gonzalez doubled twice and drove in a run and Peralta went
3-for-4 with an RBI before both learned they had won starting jobs,
and the Indians beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 6-3 on Sunday.
With just a few days left in camp, Cleveland manager Eric Wedge
named Gonzalez, a two-time AL MVP whose career has been sidetracked
by injuries the past three years, as his opening day right fielder.
"He came in and did what we asked him to do," Wedge said. "He
showed up in great shape. He has worked hard in right field to
reacquaint himself with the outfield."
The decision to keep Gonzalez was a tough one for Wedge, who
selected him over highly touted prospect Grady Sizemore.
"Grady's a big-time player and played well this spring," Wedge
said of the 22-year-old, who was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo. "We
were in a fortunate situation with a fantastic young player and a
great veteran to choose from."
Naming Peralta to replace Omar Vizquel at shortstop was much
easier. Peralta batted .395 to Brandon Phillips' .128 and had
better offensive statistics across the board. He has also played
well in the field.
"Jhonny came in with a slight edge and really held on to it,"
Peralta widened the gap between he and Phillips as camp
progressed. He punctuated his solid spring with two doubles,
including a run-scoring double in the eighth inning to make it 5-3.
The Indians scored one run in each of the first four innings off
Tampa Bay starter Mark Hendrickson, who played part of his four
seasons in the NBA for the Cavaliers. Hendrickson, the Devil Rays'
No. 3 starter, gave up four runs and 11 hits in four-plus innings.
In the third, Gonzalez followed a double by Martinez with his
second double to make it 3-0.
Crawford was back in left field, one day after Devil Rays
manager Lou Piniella decided against using him in center field this
season while Rocco Baldelli recovers following knee surgery.
Piniella said Baldelli is "slightly ahead of schedule."
... Indians opening day starter Jake Westbrook feared the worst
when he got drilled in the right hand by a line drive during a
minor league game on Friday. "The whole thing went numb," he
said. "I thought it was shattered. I was scared to death." X-rays
were negative and Westbrook is not expected to miss any time. ...
Tampa Bay pitchers came in with a 3.43 ERA -- the second-lowest in
the majors this spring.