On Wednesday, August 29 the Cleveland Indians designated utility player Shelley Duncan for assignment. Duncan began the 2012 season as the Tribe's starting left fielder but became a reserve player when the Indians added veteran Johnny Damon to the team. Over the past three seasons Duncan remained a fixture on Cleveland's bench, splitting time between left field, first base, and designated hitter.
Upon the Duncan news initially breaking I thought, "Wow, this really shows the Cleveland Indians don't see a future with Shelley Duncan." Tribe skipper Manny Acta confirmed my inference telling the media, "He (Duncan) wanted to play. Unfortunately, going forward, the at-bats weren't going to be there and we probably don't feel he's going to be in the plans for next year."
Personally I'm a little disappointed because I feel Shelley Duncan never received a fair shot to prove he could become the everyday left fielder. Sure, Duncan started 2012 in that role but the team didn't seem to believe in him. If you recall from my article "Cleveland Indians Officially Announce Johnny Damon Signing: A Fan's Reaction," rumors surfaced one week into the season speculating Cleveland signed Damon. Basically the Indians expected Shelley Duncan to fail.
Interestingly enough Duncan did falter, but only after the Johnny Damon announcement. Prior to the Indians acquiring Damon, Duncan thrived. He batted .320 with a double, two home runs, and six RBIs during his first eight games as the Indians' starting left fielder. I can't help but think the Damon signing affected Duncan mentally, thus triggering his season's never-ending downward spiral. Overall this year Shelley Duncan hit .203 with 10 doubles, 11 home runs, and 31 RBIs in 81 games.
With Shelley Duncan now gone, I'm curious to see if Matt LaPorta will assume Duncan's utility spot. Like Duncan, LaPorta can play left field, first base, or provide an alternative option at designated hitter. Currently young speedster Ezequiel Carrera receives the most playing time out in left. Other options on the 40-man roster include Jason Donald, Brent Lillibridge, Vinny Rottino, and Russ Canzler.
Besides LaPorta and starting first baseman Casey Kotchman, Canzler, Carlos Santana, Jack Hannahan, and Lars Anderson can man first. Considering Cleveland needs a first baseman and left fielder for 2013 September call ups becomes quite interesting. Will guys like Russ Canzler and Lars Anderson fare better than Shelley Duncan and capture the Cleveland Indians' attention? Hopefully yes.
Zachary Fenell fell in love with the Cleveland Indians during the 1995 season when the Tribe powered their way to the organization's first World Series appearance since 1954. While the Indians lost some allure since the 1990s you will still find Zachary watching the games on TV, listening to them on the radio, or best yet taking in a game from the stands at Progressive Field.
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- Johnny Damon
- Shelley Duncan