Articles on this Page
- 10/03/18--08:30: _Will the Shaun Wade...
- 10/03/18--08:45: _Ohio State football...
- 10/03/18--08:45: _If you abandoned th...
- 10/03/18--10:12: _Tyson Fury-Deontay ...
- 10/03/18--12:32: _Cleveland Indians' ...
- 10/03/18--13:59: _Cleveland Cavaliers...
- 10/03/18--13:53: _Brett Favre on Bake...
- 10/03/18--14:32: _Baker Mayfield says...
- 10/03/18--15:01: _LPGA Tour 2018: Liv...
- 10/03/18--19:54: _Baker Mayfield insp...
- 10/03/18--16:33: _Is Patrick Mahomes ...
- 10/03/18--19:01: _Cleveland Indians' ...
- 10/03/18--20:24: _Terry Francona, Cle...
- 10/03/18--22:51: _MLB Playoffs 2018: ...
- 10/03/18--18:11: _Hue Jackson on Nick...
- 10/04/18--20:22: _PGA Tour 2018: Live...
- 10/04/18--14:12: _Cleveland Cavaliers...
- 10/04/18--11:40: _Ohio State's receiv...
- 10/04/18--12:39: _Browns elevate Bria...
- 10/04/18--13:21: _Is a healthy Josh D...
- 10/03/18--08:45: Ohio State football depth chart for Indiana game
- 10/03/18--08:45: If you abandoned the 1-31 Browns, are you back now? Tell us
- HBO is no longer in the boxing business, and here's why.
- Here's another look at why HBO dropped boxing.
- Jeff Horn vows to end Anthony Mundine's boxing career.
- Boxing faces danger of being expelled from the Tokyo Olympics.
- Former boxing champ Mike Tyson says boxing lacks personalities.
Oscar Negrete vs. Joshua Franco, bantamweights
Daniel Zorrilla vs. Dakota Linger, junior welterweights
Jousce Gonzalez vs. Ivan Delgado, junior lightweights
Carlos Caraballo vs. Felipe Rivas, bantamweights
Jessie Vargas vs. Thomas Dulorme, welterweights
Artur Beterbiev vs. Callum Johnson, for Beterbiev's IBF light heavyweight title
Danny Roman vs. Gavin McDonnell, for Roman's WBA junior featherweight title
Jarrell Miller vs. Tomasz Adamek, heavyweights
Erica Farias vs. Jessica McCaskill, for Farias' WBC women's junior welterweight title
Luis Nery vs. Jason Canoy, bantamweights
Kenia Enriquez vs. Norleidys Graterol, female junior flyweights
Omar Alejandro Aguilar vs. Carlos Antonio Zatarain, junior welterweights
Julio Cesar Martinez vs. Victor Ruis, flyweights
Jack Catterall vs. Ohara Davies, junior welterweights
Nicola Adams vs. Isabel Millan, for vacant WBO women's interim junior bantamweight title
Daniel Dubois vs. Kevin Johnson, heavyweights
Lyon Woodstock vs. Archie Sharp, junior lightweights
- 10/03/18--13:59: Cleveland Cavaliers get little respect in annual GM survey
- 10/03/18--13:53: Brett Favre on Baker Mayfield: 'He can be great; he's a winner'
- 10/03/18--15:01: LPGA Tour 2018: Live leaderboard for UL International Crown
- Nick Chubb's usage.
- The wide receivers.
- Special teams struggles.
- The impact of Myles Garrett.
- Patrick Mahomes.
- 10/03/18--16:33: Is Patrick Mahomes a superstar or one-year wonder?
- 10/03/18--22:51: MLB Playoffs 2018: Yankees rout A's, 7-2, in AL wild card game
- 10/03/18--18:11: Hue Jackson on Nick Chubb: 'Just have to give him more carries'
- 10/04/18--20:22: PGA Tour 2018: Live leaderboard for Safeway Open 1st round
- Thursday-Sunday, 5:30-8:30 p.m., Golf Channel.
- 10/04/18--11:40: Ohio State's receiver blocking has Urban Meyer thinking about 2014
- 10/04/18--12:39: Browns elevate Brian Price to active roster
The redshirt freshman has been working at safety since the second week of the season, and now there's an opening for him to play. Watch video
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Randy Wade wanted to have a word with the coaches at Trinity Christian Academy. They wanted to take his son, so dangerous with the ball in his hands, and stick him at defensive back.
One some level the change made sense. In high school you don't leave your best players on the bench for any reason if they're capable of playing on both sides of the ball. But Shaun Wade was running back, a playmaker, fast and elusive and looking like he'd be an offensive star.
Randy was nervous then like he's nervous now.
It's two-fold. His son is changing positions again. Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Alex Grinch approached Shaun after the opener against Oregon State and asked if he'd be willing to move from cornerback to safety. Wade has been practicing with the Buckeye safeties since.
The other part of Randy Wade's concern is that he's not one to assume his son, despite his talent, will automatically take well to a new position with new responsibilities. Though he's been wrong about that before.
"We're a little nervous about that, but I was nervous when he moved to defensive back in the ninth grade," Randy Wade told cleveland.com this week. "He moved to cornerback, and his whole life he played running back. I was so mad I went and talked to the coaches about it. They said just calm down, relax. And look how that turned out. So I guess it will be OK."
Shaun ended up a five-star cornerback in the Class of 2017, the No. 2 player in the country at his position. He was named National Defensive Player of the Year by USA Today as a senior after registering 63 tackles and six interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns, in helping Trinity win its fourth-straight state championship.
Randy was nervous when his son took on a new position. Shaun quickly eased those concerns. Randy is nervous now with his son making a transition. Shaun might have the opportunity to again show dad it will be OK.
There's been a lot of buzz around Shaun Wade this season. His position change is intriguing in a year when Ohio State has cycled two players through the safety spot next to Jordan Fuller without finding much in the way of consistency. Isaiah Pryor has started every game there, but he has to sit out the first half of Saturday's game against Indiana after a targeting ejection in the second half against Penn State last week.
So there's an opening, and a chance for the Buckeye coaches to finally give Wade a crack at playing safety instead of just talking about it.
"I just want to be on the field and help the team," Wade said.
The redshirt freshman on the field now, finally, playing as OSU's nickel corner. That alone is a welcome change given how his first season in Columbus went.
Wade aggravated a pre-existing abdominal tear during camp last year that left him hobbled as he tried to make his way through his first camp with the Buckeyes. He finally had surgery after the second week of the season, and sat the rest of the year.
"He handled it pretty well, but he did get down on himself because it was hard," Randy Wade said. "You gotta think, you're at a big-time school, you're expected to do big-time things, you're a five-star, you got all of these awards an accolades and now you can't play. All of your friends and everybody else are playing. So it was hard."
Even at the beginning of this season, it wasn't clear what Wade's role would be until Grinch approached him after the opener and got the ball rolling on this move to safety.
He's been the starting nickel since, flashing at times while still showing room for improvement at others. Wade was in coverage against K.J. Hamler last week when the Penn State receiver caught a slant out of the slot and ran for a 93-yard touchdown.
"I backed up," Wade said. "That's the only thing. If I didn't back up or got hands on him it would've been a deflection, or a catch and a tackle right away. He stuttered and stuck outside and I backed up instead of taking my leverage step and didn't get hands on him."
If you watch the play, Wade seems concerned about Hamler releasing up field for a deep shot, and gets beat inside. Lesson learned playing a new position. That's a thing all young corners talk about when placed in the slot. It's more challenging because, unlike covering a receiver outside, the receiver in the slot can break in either direction.
It's hard to manage. But do it well and you really stick out.
That Ohio State's coaches put Wade into that position in what was essentially the second game of his freshman season shows they have confidence in him.
"It's athleticism, range," defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said earlier this year. "If you remember we moved Damon Webb from corner to safety. It was his athleticism, but he had really good range too. Coverage skills. (Wade) has got those special traits, and he is a bright guy as well. He has to continue making that progress that he's made. Sometimes young guys make that jump and then they level off. The challenge to him is to keep that upward trend going."
So they like Wade, but not enough yet to play him alongside Jordan Fuller at safety. Wade did play, briefly, at safety for a few snaps at the end of Ohio State's win over Tulane when the starters were out of the game.
Though an interesting change occurred against Penn State that might shed some light on Wade possibly, finally, getting his chance.
The Buckeyes started last week's game with Fuller as the boundary safety on the short side of the field, and Pryor as the field safety to the wide side. That was a different alignment than the previous four games. When Pryor went out, the coaches moved Fuller back to the field safety and put Jahsen Wint at boundary safety to finish out the game.
Wint is listed as the starter next to Fuller on this week's depth chart.
Fuller took a big step forward as the boundary safety last season, and it seems clear that Schiano feels most comfortable with Fuller in that role and in position to be more of a center fielder on the back end of the defense. Wade said Tuesday that he's practiced exclusively at field safety, but never alongside Fuller.
Wade as the field safety, with more coverage responsibility, and Fuller at boundary safety, with more opportunity to play deep, sounds like it might be worth exploring. If there was ever going to be a week to try that alignment, it's now with Pryor's one-half suspension creating an opening.
And then perhaps Randy Wade can feel a little bit better about his son making another position change.
"For me to say that he's gonna do good, he's gotta show me" Randy Wade said. "I don't know. He's gotta show it. That's just kind of how we roll. I think he has the skill set to be a safety, but he has to definitely show me."
Here's how the Buckeyes will line up when they play Indiana on Saturday.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State football has two changes to its depth char this week for Saturday's game against Indiana.
Backup guard Brady Taylor has been removed as he recovers from knee surgery. Taylor had been listed as the No. 2 left guard and No. 3 center coming into every game this season, but he hasn't played the last two weeks. Sophomore Gavin Cupp is listed as the second-team left guard this week.
The other change has Jahsen Wint alone as the starting strong safety next to Jordan Fuller. Wint and Isaiah Pryor have been listed as co-starters every week, though Pryor has started every game. Pryor, though, must sit out the first half against Indiana after a targeting ejection in the second half against Penn State last week.
Ohio State and Indiana will kick off at 4 p.m. in Ohio Stadium. The game will be televised on Fox. OSU's depth chart is below:
QB: Dwayne Haskins
RB: J.K. Dobbins OR Mike Weber
Brian Snead OR Master Teague
WR: Austin Mack
WR: Terry McLaurin or Johnnie Dixon
H-back: Parris Campbell
K.J. Hill OR C.J. Saunders
TE: Luke Farrell OR Rashod Berry
Jeremy Ruckert OR Jake Hausmann
LT: Thayer Munford
LG: Malcolm Pridgeon
C: Michael Jordan
RG: Demetrius Knox
RT: Isaiah Prince
DE: Chase Young
DT: Robert Landers OR Davon Hamilton
DT: Dre'Mont Jones
Haskell Garrett OR Taron Vincent
DE: Jonathon Cooper
LB: Malik Harrison
LB: Tuf Borland
LB: Pete Werner
CB: Kendall Sheffield
Shaun Wade OR Marcus Williamson
S: Jahsen Wint
S: Jordan Fuller
Amir Riep OR Brendon White
CB: Damon Arnette
K: Sean Nuernberger
Kickoff: Blake Haubeil
P: Drue Chrisman
Kick return: Demario McCall OR Johnnie Dixon
Punt return: Demario McCall OR C.J. Saunders
We're asking for your input on how Browns fans have dealt with dispatching 1-31 in a season where, even though there is only one win, there's much more to cheer about.
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- As the Cleveland Browns lost 31 of 32 games and finished a winless season a year ago that served as a lasting embarrassment, the questions weren't only about what was happening then.
People wondered what the misery was doing to the future of Browns fans.
Would a younger generation never engage with the Browns and be lost to the Steelers or some fresh, fun, winning team with interesting players, like the Eagles or Cowboys?
Would an older generation finally surrender after years of futility and draw the line at 0-16, giving over their Sundays to movies and yardwork and walking the dog, turning their backs on the Browns, never to return?
Well ... what now?
The Browns aren't winning yet, but they are a lot more interesting and entertaining. They have their own fresh young quarterback in Baker Mayfield, and a big-play defense led by Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward.
They've won once in four games, but the three games they didn't win have been down to the wire and filled with enough exciting plays - Garrett's forced fumble against Pittsburgh, Antonio Callaway's late deep ball touchdown against New Orleans, Nick Chubb's big runs against Oakland - to inspire some hope even without wins.
So if you left, are you still gone?
We know a lot of you stuck by the Browns, because nothing could drive you away, not even a winless season. We'd still like to hear from you on whether you have any different view on 1-31 given the bubbling optimism that seems to be in place.
But what we're really looking for is answers from anyone who gave up on the Browns in the last two years, or answers about friends or family members you know who decided they had enough.
Have you or they stayed away? Or have Mayfield, Garrett and Ward brought everyone back?
Give us your answers in the comments, or email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet them to me @DougLesmerises.
Thanks, and look for a story with your answers, and more, on cleveland.com later this week.
Boxing faces danger of being expelled from the Tokyo Olympics.
CLEVELAND, Ohio - Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson said in a recent interview that boxing lacks personalities and that's one of the main reasons for its so-called demise.
But boxing has not been bigger because of years of quality fights on SHOWTIME; And thanks to the likes of Al Haymon's deal with Fox Sports, Bob Arum's deal with ESPN, James Rushton's DAZN and Golden Boy's deal with Facebook. I know HBO is leaving the business, but at no time in history have so many fights been available to fans.
But that's not my argument with Iron Mike. When it comes to personalities, the best personality in the sport has been on display during the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder press tour that ends today in Los Angeles.
Fury (27-0) is the lineal heavyweight champion who will fight WBC champion Wilder (40-0) on Dec. 1 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
SHOWTIME will televise the fight on pay per view.
The first two stops of the press tour have been an example of Fury's histrionics. He talks smack. He tells jokes. He dances, and that's not considering his past where he's worn costumes to press conferences.
Fury's antics are not only great for boxing but should remind the other Tyson (Iron Mike) that boxing has a personality in Fury.
This week in boxing history
Oct. 3, 1981: Marvelous Marvin Hagler defeats Mustafa Hamsho by 11th round KO to retain his middleweight title.
10:30 p.m., Thursday (ESPN2/ESPN Deportes):
9 p.m., Saturday (DAZN):
11 p.m., (ESPN+):
The Indians' 25-man roster for the ALDS is all but set. The ALDS begins Friday at 2:05 p.m. against Houston at Minute Maid Park.
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Indians 25-man roster for the ALDS against Houston is all but set. Manager Terry Francona said the last roster spot to be determined is between outfielder Rajai Davis and utility man Erik Gonzalez.
Francona said Wednesday that right-handers Dan Otero and Adam Cimber had made the bullpen. The Indians have until 10 a.m. Friday to turn in their roster for the best-of-five series.
Here's what the unofficial roster looks like:
Starting pitchers (three): Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Mike Clevinger.
Bullpen (eight): Trevor Bauer, Shane Bieber, Cody Allen, Otero, Cimber, Andrew Miller, Oliver Perez and Brad Hand.
Infield (six): Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Yonder Alonso, Josh Donaldson, Yandy Diaz and Edwin Encarnacion.
Outfield (five): Greg Allen, Brandon Guyer, Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley, Melky Cabrera.
Catchers (two): Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez.
Collin Sexton lands in the "others receiving votes" category for 2018-19 Rookie of the Year. Kyle Korver got the fourth-most tallies from GMs when asked which player is best at moving without the ball.
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- There are 49 questions in this year's NBA GM survey released Wednesday morning. The Cleveland Cavaliers appear just twice.
Collin Sexton lands in the "others receiving votes" category for 2018-19 Rookie of the Year. Kyle Korver gets the fourth-most tallies from GMs asked which player is best at moving without the ball.
In the 47 other questions -- ranging from predicted NBA champion, to best off-season move, all the way to best coach and an abundance of others in between -- there isn't a mention of the Cavaliers.
Head coach Tyronn Lue continues to get overlooked when discussing Coach of the Year. The Cavs are not viewed as one of the top seven teams in the Eastern Conference heading into the season. They aren't getting any votes when asked about the most promising young core despite the addition of Sexton, who joins youngsters Cedi Osman, Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson and Rodney Hood as the building blocks of the new-look group.
By rule, GMs are not permitted to vote for their own team or personnel in this annual survey that continues to expand with interesting queries. The percentages released on NBA.com are based on the pool of respondents to that particular question, rather than all 30 executives.
According to the league's front office personnel, third-overall pick Luka Doncic is a significant favorite to win ROY honors, getting 43 percent of the votes. Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr. (17 percent) tied for second while top pick DeAndre Ayton came in fourth, garnering 13 percent.
Sexton, the co-favorite for Rookie of the Year amongst his peers, is grouped with New York's Kevin Knox and Memphis forward Jaren Jackson Jr. -- a trio that receive some votes, but clearly not a substantial percentage.
As for Korver, he's edged out by Warriors sharpshooter Klay Thompson, who is considered the best player moving without the ball for the second straight season. Thompson receives 53 percent while Korver earns just seven percent.
GMs, like Vegas oddsmakers, view Boston as the favorite in the East. The seven teams, in order, considered to be the most likely playoff squads are Boston, Toronto, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Indiana, Washington and Miami. There isn't an eighth team listed.
Coach of the Year was an extremely tight race. San Antonio's Gregg Popovich, who took home 82 percent of the votes in this same survey ahead of last year's regular season, finishes second this time, getting dethroned by the Celtics' Brad Stevens, who receives 47 percent of the votes while Popovich gets 30 percent. Houston's Mike D'Antoni ties Golden State's Steve Kerr for third. Rick Carlisle of Dallas, Utah's Quin Snyder and Portland's Terry Stotts are the only names in the "also receiving votes" column.
Lue, who has compiled an impressive 128-77 mark in Cleveland, doesn't register in any of the other voting categories for coaches either.
Brett Favre loves what he's seen from Baker Mayfield so far, as he explained in a Sirius XM NFL radio interview.
BEREA, Ohio -- Baker Mayfield has always admired Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre, and the feeling is mutual.
"I think he can be great,'' Favre told Sirius XM NFL radio Wednesday. "To criticize how tall he is, I don't pay attention to that. I think Drew Brees has dispelled any of that talk.
"(Former Green Bay GM and Hall of Famer) Ron Wolf said it best. He goes 'you know, it's amazing to me to today how the most overlooked thing with the quarterback is the fact he's a winner.' And we were talking about Baker Mayfield and ... he goes, 'that guy is a winner. He's been a walk-on ... he transferred, people tried to write him off but yet he's managed to persevere and he's a winner.'
"He's fun to watch, he's a playmaker, he's resilient, he's all of those things and he hasn't technically had a win as a starter but you can just feel it.''
Favre and Mayfield corresponded on Twitter on draft day after Mayfield recreated Favre's iconic 1991 draft day photo when he got the call from the Falcons. Favre wished Mayfield luck in a tweet and jokingly asked him to sent the jorts back.
Baker Mayfield recreated Brett Favre's iconic draft day photo and it's SO GOOD [?]April 26, 2018
Mayfield has always emulated Favre's gunslinger style of play, and the Hall of Famer is in Mayfield's top three favorite QBs.
Favre continued that "I've never met (Mayfield) personally, but ... you know he's going to give you the best chance to win and he's going to do it to the last whistle. To me that should count for something, in fact a lot, when considering drafting a guy.
"You know, the winners, they just have it. Some may call it cockiness, some may call it overconfidence. You call it whatever you want, but ... you can just see a heightened enthusiasm when that player's in the game."
Favre's kudos come on the heels of future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees telling Browns reporters on a conference call two weeks ago that Mayfield "can be a lot better" than him.
Mayfield also evoked the memory of Favre for some of the Browns' talent evaluators, many of whom came from Green Bay. One was draft consultant Scot McCloughan, who worked with Browns GM John Dorsey in Green Bay.
"He reminds me of a shorter version of Brett Favre," McCloughan told the Doug Gottlieb show last October. "Tough guy. He can throw it. And he's very confident, and he's not afraid whatsoever, whatsoever. He's a battler. I know saying Brett Favre's a big name, and I was around him for a while, but this guy has talent."
One year later, Favre wholeheartedly agrees.
Mary Kay Cabot and Dan Labbe talk about the Browns. Watch video
BEREA, Ohio -- Baker Mayfield talked to the media today, and he believes the Browns are close.
"We are very, very close to being a great team," he said. "That is it. We are not there yet so we have a lot of work to do."
We've heard that line before. Is this time different?
Mary Kay Cabot and I talked about that in our daily practice report on Wednesday. Then we talked about two of Mayfield's weapons, Jarvis Landry and Antonio Callaway, missing practice on Wednesday and whether they'll play this week. Lastly, we talked about Nick Chubb and his workload.
Check here for the live leaderboard for UL International Crown this week.
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Lexi Thompson, Michelle Wie, Jessica Korda and Cristie Kerr comprise Team USA at the UL International Crown 2018 this week in South Korea. Republic of Korea is the favorite to win the event, which begins Wednesday (United States time).
UL INTERNATIONAL CROWN
Site: Incheon, South Korea.
Course: Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea. Yardage: 6,508. Par: 72.
Purse: $1.6 million. Winner's share: $100,000 per player.
Television: Wednesday, 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. (Golf Channel); Thursday-Saturday, 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. (Golf Channel).
Defending champion: United States.
Previous tournament: Angela Stanford won the Evian Championship.
Notes: Eight countries of four players are divided into two pools, with South Korea and Team USA leading each pool. ... The first three days feature fouballs, with two points available for a win and one for a halve. Five teams advance to the final round Sunday of singles matches. ... All points from pool play of fourballs carry over to the final day. Cumulative points determine the winner. ... The other countries to qualify through the world ranking are Japan, England, Australia, Thailand, Sweden and Taiwan. ... The South Korean team is the most difficult to make. Its players this year are Sung Hyun Park, So Yeon Ryu, I.K. Kim and In Gee Kim. ... Team USA features Michelle Wie, Cristie Kerr, Jessica Korda and Lexi Thompson. ... The International Crown starts the fall Asian swing of the LPGA Tour; there are five more stops before the tour ends the season at the CME Group Tour Championship in Florida. ... The tournament does not provide Race to CME Globe points.
Next week: LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship.
(Fact box from Associated Press.)
Mary Kay Cabot and Dan Labbe talk all things Browns in our latest podcast.
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Browns are 1-2-1 after four games, but fans seem more hopeful than they have been in a while? Why? The guy who wears No. 6.
Mary Kay Cabot and I talked about that in this edition of the Orange and Brown Talk podcast, presented by Sibling Revelry Brewery.
Then we went to Twitter and took questions about:
Want our podcasts delivered directly to your phone? We have an Apple podcasts channel exclusively for this podcast. Subscribe to it here. You can also subscribe on Google Play and listen Spotify. Search Orange and Brown Talk podcast or click here.
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The Kansas City Chiefs have been on a tear lately and a lot of it has to do with the right arm of quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Watch video
The Kansas City Chiefs have been on a tear lately and a lot of it has to do with the right arm of quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The former Texas Tech player has thrown 14 touchdowns in four games to start his tenure as the team's franchise quarterback, and his potential looks limitless. This kid is the present and future of the league. Still, some feel he will fall off like many so-called future stars in recent history. Remember RG3? What do you think?
13 touchdowns to start the year has never been done before--until Patrick Mahomes came along.
He might be newish to the scene, but Mahomes has shown he belongs in the league and will be around for a long time. He's got that "it" factor everyone keeps wanting in a quarterback. He has the arm talent, but he can also improvise, make plays out of nothing, and can use his legs to run or scramble. This kid is already a superstar.
Every year, there's another young gun thinking he's going to light up the league for a long time. Sure, they'll have a good couple games or even a great season, but they always come down.
Remember what happened Robert Griffin III? Greg Cook? Derek Anderson? Those guys had huge games and big seasons but fell off like a shooting star. Mahomes is on the same trajectory.
Remember Dak Prescott rookie year???? Look at him now... enough said-- richard iardella (@IardellaRichard) October 2, 2018
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Jason Kipnis says only one thing matters in the postseason. It's not about statistics, it's about wins. Watch video
CLEVELAND, Ohio - Jason Kipnis, in his attempt to forget the 2018 season, found a way to salvage it and reach his goal at the same time.
Kipnis thought of one thing for long parts of the just-completed regular season. He wanted to end it and hit the reset button to start the second season as soon as possible. The second season that could make the 2018 Indians a team Cleveland never forgets.
The Indians have been in business since 1901. They've won World Series twice in all that time: 1920 and 1948. The weight of the years has covered those teams in cobwebs and dust, but ask any serious Indians fans and they still recognize the names of Tris Speaker, Ray Chapman, Stanley Coveleski, Bill Veeck, Gene Bearden, Lou Boudreau and Larry Doby.
They've reached the World Series four times since 1948. They were swept in 1954, lost in six games in 1995 and in seven in 1997 and 2016. Kipnis was on the 2016 team that lost Game 7 to the Cubs at Progressive Field in 10 innings.
He knows what a World Series championship would mean. As for he and his teammates becoming heroes for life on the shores of Lake Erie, well, that doesn't sound like a bad gig either.
After all, there has to be some kind of incentive to end 70 years of waiting.
"You're aware of it," said Kipnis. "You don't really need extra motivation when you get to this level and get into the playoffs. I know how big a deal it was in 2016 when it was (the teams) with the two longest World Series droughts going after it.
"So, clearly, now we're the longest one. That would just be the icing on the cake to end that drought in addition to winning it for the fans in this city that are hungry right now and that have been here the whole year."
Those are big thoughts, probably too big for the moment which the Indians find themselves. Their team psychologists and mental health coaches preach short-term goals. They want players to stay in the moment and trust the process. If you look too far down the road, you can't see the bad hop about to hit you in the kisser in two seconds.
Kipnis knows that as well. It is the way he tried to navigate around one of the toughest seasons of his career.
This season he stopped looking at the scoreboard when he came to the plate. The batting average, hovering between bad and awful, drove him to distraction. So he took manager Terry Francona's advice and just started over from whatever point of the season he was at. It didn't work right away, but eventually Kipnis started hitting like Kipnis again.
The batting average was beyond repair, but he ended the season with 18 homers, 74 RBI and a .704 OPS. The 18 homers were his second highest total ever. The 75 RBI matched his average for a 162-game season, according to baseball-reference.com.
Still, there were consequences. The Indians acquired third baseman Josh Donaldson on Aug. 31 and in the shuffle of bodies Kipnis vacated second base and moved to center field for the second straight year. At the time, he blamed himself, saying if he'd hit like he normally does, the Indians wouldn't have had to make the move.
As for center field, it's been smoother the second time around.
"It was just easier this time just because I had the last year to kind of build off of," said Kipnis.
The reset button has been pushed just in time for the Indians to open the ALDS against Houston on Friday at 2:05 p.m. at Minute Maid Park.
"The reset button has been my light at the end of the tunnel," said Kipnis. "Just keep your head up, keep pushing. Gain some momentum going into October because when it gets to there it's a reset button for everyone. Everyone is at the same number."
Kipnis says it's a strange feeling. After chasing almost every hitter in the the big leagues for 162 games, he's dead even with everyone in postseason -- where only one statistic matters.
"Now it's just wins," said Kipnis. "That's the only thing that really matters. You kind of trick yourself into thinking 'just get there and everything will be OK again.' Now it's just the number of wins. That's the only focus. I don't care if it's still another 0-for-4 or a sac bunt. If it gets the job done for a win, then that's all that matters."
Eleven wins. That's what the Indians need to win it all. The Astros did it last year and that's who the Indians have drawn in the first round.
"They have an outstanding ball club," said Kipnis. "They really have from top to bottom maybe the most athletic lineup (in the big leagues). I think it's going to be one of the most evenly matched series in the first round.
"In terms of pitching staffs, we line up with them. In terms of lineup we line up with them. It's going to be a lot of fun."
Terry Francona is preparing to manage in the American League Division Series for the eighth time in his career.
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Is it more challenging for a big-league manager to prepare for a best-of-five divisional round playoff series rather than a traditional seven-game league championship or World Series?
"It's two less than seven, I know that," Indians manager Terry Francona said Wednesday before his team worked out at Progressive Field.
Francona is preparing to manage in the divisional round for the eighth time since 2004. He is 4-3 in previous LDS appearances, 1-1 with Cleveland. Francona said he recognizes that after every game there is going to be a storyline. Usually they follow a familiar pattern, and if you know what's coming, you can set yourself up to handle it appropriately.
"The first game everyone is even, and after the first game everybody is like 'they gotta win this (next) one,'" Francona said. "What you need to do is as a team block out the noise because that's really what it is, and focus on winning the game that's right in front of you. When you do that, things have a way of working out."
Francona has also learned how to manage around the long four-day layoff between the end of the regular season and the divisional round opener.
"The idea is to make (the four days) beneficial," Francona said. "In our sport, because it's rhythm and timing, sometimes that can create some anxiety for coaches and managers."
Francona said he was pleased with the way players acquitted themselves during Tuesday's intrasquad game at Progressive Field. Each starter got two at-bats and the pitchers that needed work were able to throw appropriately. The scrimmage helped break up the off days in a way that allowed players to maintain their rhythm and timing.
"In football, you give guys rest and man they can run over the middle and block and that's not what our sport is," Francona said. "It's more rhythm and timing, and having the reps is so important."
Guyer back to good: Outfielder Brandon Guyer should be good to go when Friday's playoff opener arrives at Minute Maid Park. He's been dealing with a sore shoulder that caused him to miss the final three regular season games at Kansas City.
Guyer appeared in the intrasquad game on Tuesday, laying down a bunt in the second inning against Cody Allen. He took batting practice with the Indians on Wednesday under Francona's watchful eye.
"I think he's going to be fine," Francona said.
Bullpen strategy under wraps: Francona was asked whether or not he has any tricks up his sleeve when it comes to his bullpen. The skipper joked that he could reveal his plans, but "I'd have to kill ya."
In 2016, Francona sparked a "bullpenning" trend in baseball when he used Andrew Miller much earlier in playoff games than he had during the regular season. Looking back on the strategy, Francona said he was just trying to do what he thought would put his team in the best position to win.
"Sometimes you don't even know that," he said. "Like with Andrew, so many times we'll bring him into the game and if he has an easy inning, we leave him in the game. It's not like there's a design. If he comes in and throws eight pitches, why take him out?"
Part of the strategy is to make sure you've done your homework. Francona said the Indians always try to have a plan in place ahead of time, and that starts by having good meetings between the coaching staff and the scouts.
"While we were out playing, we had a lot of scouts and and a lot of guys upstairs attacking different things on the Astros," Francona said. "It makes you feel good to know that they've been doing that. Then we had two pretty lengthy meetings Monday and Tuesday and it helps alleviate some of the anxiety because you feel like you're prepared. Our guys did a really good job."
Firsthand account: Josh Donaldson has seen firsthand what Francona's bullpen strategy can do to a team in the playoffs. He went 1-for-5 with a single and two strikeouts against Miller and Allen in the 2016 ALCS with Toronto.
Donaldson said confidence is the key for any reliever in the postseason.
"I know what they're capable of doing and I know how dominant they can be," Donaldson said. "Going into this postseason on a note that they felt comfortable with is important. But guess what, when that first game starts, all the stats get thrown out. It doesn't matter anymore.
"So it doesn't matter if you feel like you had a good year, felt like you had a bad year, you get a chance to go out and take advantage of an opportunity that not a lot of teams have. Now it's up to each individual to take care of their own business."
Bieber believer: Could rookie right-hander Shane Beiber be the ace up Francona's sleeve in the bullpen?
Bieber, who will be available in both games in Houston, pitched his way to an 11-5 record and a 4.55 ERA in 19 starts. He struck out 118 and walked just 23 in 114 2/3 innings and has exactly the kind of makeup that could play well as a long reliever.
"The way he's competed, he's earned our trust," Francona said. "It gets exciting when you start thinking about his future, but as far as winning a playoff game, believe me, we wouldn't have put him on (the roster) if we didn't think he was going to help us."
Awards season: Major League Baseball announced the 30 finalists (one from each team) for the Hank Aaron Award, which recognizes the most outstanding offensive performer in each league. Infielder Jose Ramirez is the Indians' nominee.
Ramirez, named to his second AL All-Star Team this season, batted .270 with career highs in home runs (39) and RBI (105). He finished third in the AL in fWAR (8.1) and tops in the league in the Baseball Reference Power-Speed # rankings (36.3).
Fans can vote online for the winners in each league. A distinguished panel of ex-major leaguers led by Aaron will combine with the fan vote.
Finally: Former Indians farmhand Tony Wolters sent Colorado into the National League Division Series against Milwaukee with an RBI single in the 13th inning of the NL Wild Card game against the Cubs.
Francona was asked if he was happy to see the ex-Akron Rubberducks infielder come through for Bud Black's Rockies in the wee hours of the morning on Wednesday.
"I fell asleep, so I found out this morning," Francona said. "That was pretty cool."
For Oakland, it was just the latest letdown in a decades-long stretch of disappointment.
NEW YORK -- Aaron Judge got the party started with a two-run homer nine pitches in. Luis Severino let out a primal scream after escaping a bases-loaded jam with 100 mph heat. Giancarlo Stanton capped the mauling with monstrous drive in his postseason debut.
From the first inning on, there was little doubt. Next stop for the Yankees: Fenway Park and the rival Red Sox.
Going ahead quickly against reliever-turned-starter Liam Hendriks, the Yankees pounded the Oakland Athletics 7-2 Wednesday night to win their second straight AL wild-card game.
Severino atoned for flopping in his postseason debut last year, and late-season spark Luke Voit added a two-run triple off Blake Treinen in a four-run sixth, missing a home run by inches. Stanton added 443-foot drive off the Oakland closer in the eighth that landed in left field's second deck, completing a power show by the team that set a major league record for most home runs in a season.
After one of those boisterous Bronx celebrations that used to be an October staple, the Yankees will take a train to Boston for a best-of-five Division Series starting Friday, a matchup of 100-win heavyweights. By the late innings, the sellout crowd was chanting "We want Boston!"
The Red Sox went 10-9 against the Yankees this year.
For Oakland, it the latest disappointing defeat in what has stretched into decades of disappointment. The A's have lost eight straight winner-take-all postseason games since beating Willie Mays and the New York Mets in Game 7 of the 1973 World Series, and dropped all four of their postseason matchups against the Yankees.
New York became the first team since the 2001 A's to reach triple digits in wins and fail to finish first -- the Red Sox set a team record with 108 victories.
Yankees fans fretted about an all-or-nothing knockout match, thinking back to last year when Severino fell behind Minnesota 3-0 just 10 pitches in. New York rallied for an 8-4 win against the Twins, but the memory was still raw.
Severino was 14-2 at the All-Star break this year but slumped badly in the second half, and rookie manager Aaron Boone's decision to start the 24-year-old right-hander against the A's instead of J.A. Happ or Masahiro Tanaka was intensely debated -- the type of argument Boone used to enjoy as a television analyst who broadcast last year's wild-card game.
Severino made the move look like genius. He threw nine fastballs in a 10-pitch first inning, then relied on sliders and chanegups. He struck out seven his first time through the batting order, got in trouble in the fourth before striking out Marcus Semien on his fastest pitch of the night -- 99.6 mph at the letters. He showed his emotion and looked spent despite not having allowed a hit.
And he was.
Jonathan Lucroy and Nick Martini singled leading off the fifth, and Boone signaled for Dellin Betances to relieve.
This time, he had a no decision to savor.
Betances retired Matt Chapman on a liner to right and Jed Lowrie on a fly to center, then struck out big league home run champion Khris Davis with a slider. Betances gleefully backpedaled off the mound.
New York opened a 6-0 lead in the bottom half. Judge started it with a double -- his grounder hit about a foot foul just beyond the batter's box, then twisted fair down the line. Aaron Hicks followed with another doubles off Fernando Rodney.
After Treinen walked Stanton, and Voit hit an opposite-field drive to right, thinking it was a home run and raising his right arm at the plate. He chugged into third with his first big league triple and let loose with a holler.
The burly Voit tumbled across the plate, actually making a nifty slide, to just make it home on Didi Gregorius' sacrifice fly.
Betances (the winner) pitched a perfect sixth and David Robertson a 1-2-3 seventh. Davis hit a two-run homer off Zach Britton in the eighth, and Aroldis Chapman finished the five-hitter.
Oakland was a little engine that could, coming off three straight last-place finishes and last in opening-day payroll before creeping up to 28th following midseason acquisitions to bolster its injury devastated pitching staff. The A's managed to win 97 games despite a half-dozen starting pitchers getting hurt.
Short on options, A's managed Bob Melvin opted for baseball's latest fad: starting a reliever.
Hendriks, coming off seven straight shutout starts of one inning in September following his return from the minor leagues, walked Andrew McCutchen leading off, and Judge drove a fastball over the left-field scoreboard.
Hendriks (the loser) had not allowed a home run since June 24, the night before he was cut from the major league roster.
It was just the second home run since July 21 for Judge, who missed seven weeks with a broken right wrist before returning in mid-September. He joined Reggie Jackson as the only Yankees to hit four home runs in their first seven postseason home games for New York.
By Ronald Blum, AP baseball writer
Jackson says the Browns need to do a better job of getting Chubb a series or two each half. Watch video
BEREA, Ohio -- Hue Jackson was asked on Wednesday if there's anything holding Nick Chubb back from getting more carries.
"No, just have to give him more carries," Jackson said. "There is nothing holding him back. We just have to stick him out there."
That's music to Browns fans' ears because they saw the rookie running back, picked No. 35 last April, carry the ball three times on Sunday in Oakland for 105 yards and two touchdowns. He was on the field for only those three plays and has played just 15 offensive snaps this year, carrying the ball 10 times.
"We need to do a better job of making sure that he has a series or two each half and go from there," Jackson said.
Chubb broke two long touchdown runs against the Raiders, the first a 63-yard score with 12:35 left in the first half that put the Browns ahead, 9-7. The second long run was a 41-yarder that put the Browns ahead, 42-34, with 4:20 left in regulation.
Chubb hit a top speed of 21.15 miles per hour on the first run, according to the NFL's Next Gen stats, the 11th fastest speed this season on a play. Chubb credited his offensive line for opening up the holes and his receivers for blocking downfield.
"Those guys did a great job for me," he said on Monday. "On the second level, I took it on myself to get into the end zone."
"I watched those two touchdowns on tape today, and they were even better than they were on the field," Jackson said on Monday. "He ran away from some people on the first one and ran away from some people on the second one. It just looked natural and easy. He was gone."
It was impressive to see Chubb's burst once he hit the open field.
"I did break the angle or whatever," Chubb said. "Just training hard, working hard back at home and here. The training staff makes sure that we are squatting and staying explosive throughout the year."
Still, for the most part, Chubb's work has come on special teams. He has played 70 special teams snaps this season and has made two tackles and assisted on three others.
"I am always excited just to be featured more," he said. "No matter where it is on the field -- special teams, running the ball or catching the ball -- I am up for it and I am happy to do it."
He may have finally played his way into some more carries.
"Nick Chubb is going to carry the ball," Jackson said.
Check here for the live first-round leaderboard for the PGA Tour's Safeway Open 2018 on Thursday, Oct. 4, in California.
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Phil Mickelson, Joaquin Niemann, Brandt Snedeker, Patrick Cantlay, Ryan Moore, Hunter Mahan, Fred Couples, Jason Dufner, Denny McCarthy, two-time defending champion Brendan Steele and former MLB pitcher Mark Mulder are among those in the field for the PGA Tour's Safeway Open 2018 this week in California. The Safeway opens the 2018-19 season.
Mulder, who won three straight American Century Celebrity Golf Championships (2015-17), is a sponsor's invite.
Site: Napa, Calif.
Course: Silverado Resort. Yardage: 7,166. Par: 72.
Purse: $6.2 million. Winner's share: $1,116,000.
Defending champion: Brendan Steele.
FedExCup champion: Justin Rose.
Previous tournament: Tiger Woods won the Tour Championship.
Notes: This is the first tournament of the new PGA Tour season. ... Phil Mickelson is the only Ryder Cup player at the Safeway Open. His management company runs the tournament. ... The tournament finished last year shortly before wildfires closed in on Silverado. ... Mickelson and Patrick Cantlay are the only players in the field who were at the Tour Championship two weeks ago. ... Fred Couples is making a rare PGA Tour start. ... Mark Mulder is playing on a sponsor's exemption. The retired Oakland A's pitcher won three consecutive American Century Classic titles, a tournament for athletes and celebrities. ... Steele is going for this third straight victory at Silverado. ... The winner receives an exemption to the Masters and to the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Kapalua at the start of next year. ... The PGA Tour leaves for three straight weeks in Asia after this week, returning Nov. 1 in Las Vegas.
Next week: CIMB Classic in Malaysia.
(Fact box from Associated Press.)
"Every interaction I've had with him has been just great," Stevens said recently. "I think he does a really, really good job. Always puts guys in a great position to have success. I think he's outstanding."
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Brad Stevens has been named the league's best coach in an annual GM survey this fall, overtaking that distinction from the great Gregg Popovich. Tyronn Lue didn't even get a vote.
If you think it's a little surprising that the Cavaliers head coach, who helped guide the team through a chaotic regular season and took them back to the NBA Finals, doesn't typically get the same kind of recognition as his peers, then you're not alone.
"Every interaction I've had with him has been just great," Stevens said recently. "I think he does a really, really good job. Always puts guys in a great position to have success. I think he's outstanding."
Stevens, who has compiled a 221-189 record in five years with the Boston Celtics, said he doesn't know Lue all that well personally. But in Boston, where Lue used to be an assistant coach under Doc Rivers, there are still plenty of ties to that organization, including some of Lue's old friends who still speak glowingly of him.
What Stevens can speak about is Lue's coaching acumen. The two have had plenty of postseason chess matches recently -- 12 games total in the conference finals, with Lue winning eight.
"I thought they've always done a great job of adjusting on the fly, they've always done a good job of using all their pieces to put us in position where we had real issues," Stevens said.
When asked for specifics, he pointed to Lue's decision to elevate Tristan Thompson back into the starting lineup for Game 2 last spring after coming off the bench in the series opener. Stevens also identified the devastating Kevin Love-Kyle Korver two-man game that gave Toronto fits in the conference semifinals, something Boston worked hard to take away. There was also Lue's decision to unleash his switch-heavy defense that Stevens admitted hurt the Celtics at the end of the conference finals.
"I thought it was a lot really good decisions by them and there are 29 really great coaches that I get to steal from all the time and I appreciate that about this league," Stevens said. "Ty is one of them."
In about two and a half years as Cavaliers head coach, Lue has amassed an impressive 128-77 mark -- good for third best in franchise history. He's 41-20 in the postseason, often reserving some of his best tactics for the most important months. He played a significant role in Cleveland's come-from-behind championship against the record-setting Golden State Warriors in 2016 -- the city's first title in 52 years and the Cavaliers' first as an organization.
Only each time Lue's coaching resume is brought up, the obvious and unavoidable yeah but phrase gets attached.
Yeah but he had LeBron James so how much credit does Lue really deserve for that title run? Yeah but he had more talent than any other Eastern Conference team so, of course, he piled up wins and repeatedly helped lead the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals. Yeah but his defense in the regular season was trash.
So how good of a coach is Lue?
It's only one man's opinion. But the guy who was on the opposite bench, on the losing side of the conference finals two years in a row, seems to hold Lue in high regard.
"Ty did a great job coaching that team," Stevens said. "I think he's really good. I think if you ask any of the players there and any of the people that coached against him, they know."
The Buckeyes have sprung some big plays this year with receivers leading the blocking.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Urban Meyer's insistence on Ohio State's receivers blocking has been emphatic to the point that it's become fodder for inside jokes.
Does Meyer's rule of blocking before you start catching know no bounds?
Say, if Randy Moss -- young Randy Moss, not Randy Moss now, though he can can probably still play -- came walking through the doors of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and said he didn't feel like blocking, would Meyer play him?
"Nah. There ain't no way," receiver Austin Mack said this week. "You have to be able to block here at Ohio State, man. You gotta be able to do it all."
"Definitely not," K.J. Hill said. "You can't play without being able to block, and that shows in practice. If you can't block in practice, you can't play in the game."
We're talking about the blocking prowess of the Buckeye receivers again because both touchdowns in their comeback win over Penn State last week wouldn't have happened without it. Meyer touts it every year, and sometimes frustration bubbles from fans who know there is talent that isn't playing because Meyer doesn't think they've done enough of the other things to warrant being part of the plan yet.
It's a right of passage for OSU receivers. Block, play some special teams, and then the ball will start coming to you. Might sound silly, but that mindset laid the foundation for an explosive offense in the national championship year of 2014, and it's laying the foundation again now.
"Those guys are playing with selflessness and blocking," Meyer said. "You remember in 2014 I made comments about that group, and this is still too early, but there's a lot of similarities between that group (and this one)."
When it comes to receivers doing something without the ball in 2014, no play sticks out more than Evan Spencer cracking down on an Alabama linebacker on Ezekiel Elliott's 85-yard touchdown run that iced the Sugar Bowl.
If Meyer ever gets that tattoo he promised his players if they won the title that year, don't be surprised if it's a picture of Spencer burying an Alabama defender.
Meyer has been bringing up Spencer again this year. He's the poster boy for what the coach looks for: Tough, selfless, and one heck of a blocker. On this team, Terry McLaurin gets those comparisons the most.
McLaurin wiped out two defenders earlier this year on a bubble screen to Parris Campbell against Tulane.
Against Penn State, McLaurin took out three defenders on Hill's game-winning touchdown.
"We try to emphasize being different," Hill said. "There are receiver corps all around the country, but what makes you different? I feel like our blocking makes us different."
It's not just McLaurin. Mack also helped McLaurin set the path for Hill's game-winner. Campbell and Johnnie Dixon got in the way of some Penn State defenders on Ben Victor's 47-yard touchdown.
It's a requirement. We hear that all the time. There is no leeway for anyone, it would seem.
"Mike Thomas it took a while," Meyer said.
Perhaps that's why Thomas, who might be the best receiver in the NFL right now, took two years to really become noticeable in Ohio State's offense.
When Victor made an incredible individual effort last week, going full extension and reaching back for an off-target ball before weaving around his blocks for a score, Meyer didn't seem as excited as he did all of the things that led to Victor being in that position. That was Victor getting a starting role on special teams and helping his teammates spring big plays by blocking.
Meyer rewards that, and Victor rewarded Meyer and the rest of the team for relying on him in a big moment. That trust wouldn't have been there if Victor didn't show a willingness to do everything but catch the ball as a receiver.
So mock it. But don't pretend like it doesn't matter.
"It's something we do for each other," Hill said. "We know if we want to be the best in the country, the blocking comes with it."
Price was a member of the team's practice squad.
BEREA, Ohio -- The Browns elevated defensive lineman Brian Price to their active roster, the team announced on Thursday. Defensive lineman Devaroe Lawrence was waived to make room.
Price, who was on the Browns' practice squad, is 6-foot-2, 322 pounds and in his second NFL season. He was originally signed by Green Bay in 2016 and has appeared in 10 games during his career, including one start. The Browns claimed him from the Cowboys on Sept. 3.
Lawrence appeared in one game for the Browns and has been inactive for the last three. The Browns traded a seventh-round pick to New Orleans to acquire him.
The Houston Astros will get their first look this season at an old nemesis from his Oakland days, Indians third baseman Josh Donaldson.
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Houston took four of seven games against the Cleveland Indians during the regular season, but none of those matchups featured the Tribe's newest addition, third baseman Josh Donaldson.
Will the former American League MVP be the biggest X-factor when the two teams open AL Division Series play Friday at Minute Maid Park? Indians manager Terry Francona said Donaldson can impact a game in a variety of ways.
"He's always got that one swing from being able to change a game," Francona said. "But the other thing that he can do is he can hit the ball the other way. We've seen him shorten up and get a base hit up the middle or he'll take his walk when we need a baserunner."
Acquired from Toronto in late August, Donaldson had missed three months with a calf injury but returned to action gradually as the Indians progressed through September. In 16 games with Cleveland, Donaldson hit .280 with three home runs, three doubles and seven RBI while scoring eight runs and collecting 10 walks to go along with 10 strikeouts.
The 32 year old says he is in a good place now, physically, and he's ready for his sixth postseason to get underway.
"It's a great opportunity for everybody in this locker room," he said. "I know everybody is excited and looking forward to it. We're excited to see what's going to happen."
Donaldson should be excited to open the series in Houston, where he's hit .333 with seven home runs and 23 RBI in 30 career games. After facing the Astros often during parts of his four seasons in Oakland, Donaldson has a career 1.081 OPS at Minute Maid Park.
Teammate Edwin Encarnacion watched Donaldson slug a pair of homers and drive in four runs in eight games at Houston with the Blue Jays in 2015 and 2016. He's not surprised by Donaldson's career numbers in the park because the environment is very hitter-friendly.
"You really see the ball well there," Encarnacion said. "I think he feels comfortable in that stadium and generally that helps people's confidence when they're hitting there."
A month ago Josh Donaldson was on a sub-.500 ball club. Now he's getting ready to start for the Indians in the ALDS. Is that a move he saw coming a few weeks ago? @wkyc @WKYCSports pic.twitter.com/1MIeqq3J34-- David Kinder II (@DaveoKindo_73) October 3, 2018
Francona admitted the the team was being cautious and held Donaldson back when he first arrived, but that he handled the transition respectfully, and has been fun to get to know during the process.
"He wanted to play every inning of every game, which I respect a lot," Francona said. "He's a baseball player. He wants to play and he wants to beat you."
For Donaldson, that starts with winning Game 1, in which his teams are 1-for-6 during his postseason career.
"Every game is huge, but the first game is obviously important," he said. "Whoever catches the most breaks and whoever forces the pressure and continues to do the things that got them to this point will be successful."
Donaldson, who will be a free agent after the World Series, said he knew while he was rehabbing his injury that there would be an opportunity for him to join a team with a postseason agenda. The chance to showcase himself and his progress is something he's also considered.
"I'm preparing as if it's my last game," he said. "It's kind of 'here, here's what's on your plate today, you either eat it or you don't.' And I'm choosing to try to eat as much as possible."