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Cleveland Guardians’ 1st Opening Day roster commences new era

Cleveland Guardians' Ernie Clement, left, celebrates after his three-run home run against the...
Cleveland Guardians' Ernie Clement, left, celebrates after his three-run home run against the San Francisco Giants with teammates Bradley Zimmer (4) and Steven Kwan during the fourth inning of a spring training baseball game Friday, March 25, 2022, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)(Ross D. Franklin | AP)
Published: Apr. 7, 2022 at 10:26 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The Cleveland Guardians take the field for the first Opening Day of the new era with a roster packed with new names.

The Guardians kick the season off in Kansas City against the Royals with the first pitch at 4:10 p.m. on April 7.

Thanks to the 99-day MLB lockout, teams are allowed 28 players on the Opening Day roster through May 1.

That number gets bumped up to 29 for doubleheaders, but there’s none slated for the Guardians until June 28.

Once May 2 comes around, the roster will be trimmed to the traditional 26.

The MLB did not put a limit on how many pitchers a team could carry on the expanded 28 player rosters due to the shortened Spring Training.

The number of starting pitchers this season is the same as last for the Guardians, but the club did add one more reliever compared to 2021.

Starting Pitchers

  • Shane Bieber
  • Aaron Civale
  • Zach Plesac
  • Cal Quantrill
  • Triston McKenzie

Guardians beat reporter Mandy Bell said Bieber, Civale, Plesac, and Quantrill will be the four-man rotation than opens the season, leaving McKenzie piggybacking in Kansas City.

The Guardians confirmed a week before Opening Day that Shane Beiber would take the mound in his third straight Opening Day start.

That ties him with Bob Feller for second-most Opening Day starts before his 27th birthday (CC Sabathia and Willie Mitchell have the top spot with four each).

Bieber will be limited to about 60 pitches due to the shortened Spring Training.

The 26-year-old 2020 Cy Young Award winner was limited to just 16 starts in the 2021 season after straining his right shoulder.

Cleveland Guardians ace Shane Bieber: ‘There is an excitement, a buzz’ for Opening Day

These five starters are true reflections of how the Guardians are one of the youngest teams in the MLB, considering 27-year-old Plesac is the oldest of the starting pitchers (20 days older than Quantrill).

Relievers

  • Logan Allen
  • Emmanuel Clase
  • Anthony Gose
  • Sam Hentges
  • Eli Morgan
  • Konnor Pilkington
  • Nick Sandlin
  • Bryan Shaw
  • Trevor Stephan

This is the first time Gose, Hentges, Morgan, Pilkington, and Sandlin have been named to an Opening Day roster.

Pilkington’s contract was selected from Double-A Akron when the Guardians selected the 40-man roster back in November.

Allen, Gose, and Hentges are out of minor league options.

Here’s who makes up the rest of the Opening Day roster along with their batting average and at-bats from Spring Training:

Catchers

  • Austin Hedges (.250 with 16 AB)
  • Bryan Lavastida (.059 with 17 AB)

Lavastida is the youngest member of the 28-man roster at 23 years old (just over two months older than Andrés Giménez) as he makes his Opening Day debut.

He was a Rule-5 eligible prospect whose contract was picked from Double-A Akron for the 40-man.

First Base

  • Bobby Bradley (.211 with 38 AB)

The 25-year-old is making his Opening Roster debut after being with the organization since 2014.

Bradley is out of minor league options.

Second Base

  • Yu Chang (.342 with 36 AB)

He previously filled the utility role on the last two Opening Day rosters.

Chang is out of minor league options.

Third Base

  • José Ramírez (.200 with 35 AB)

He’s held this Opening Day roster spot for years... so this is nothing new to report.

But what is new is that Cleveland reportedly signed Ramírez to a five-year extension with less than 24 hours left before Opening Day.

The new extension, which is the Guardians’ biggest move of the offseason, is worth $124 million with a full no-trade clause, according to MLB insider Jeff Passan.

In nine seasons with Cleveland, Ramirez has hit for a .278 batting average with 163 home runs.

Cleveland Guardians reportedly sign Jose Ramirez to multi-year extension

Shortstop

  • Andrés Giménez (.360 with 25 AB)

Outfield

  • Steven Kwan (.469 with 32 AB)
  • Oscar Mercado (.229 with 35 AB)
  • Josh Naylor (.444 with 9 AB)
  • Amed Rosario (.176 with 34 AB)
  • Myles Straw (.297 with 37 AB)
  • Bradley Zimmer (.156 with 32 AB)

Kwan is making not only his Opening Day roster debut and Opening Day lineup debut, but his first appearance in The Show.

He was a Rule-5 eligible prospect whose contract was selected from Triple-A Columbus.

The 24-year-old joins the Guardians with one of the highest Spring Training batting averages on the team without a single strikeout at this year’s camp.

While Naylor is on the roster, he won’t be on the field just yet... He is starting the season on the 10-day injured list and is scheduled to begin a minor-league rehab assignment.

This is Mercado and Straw’s first appearance on an Opening Day roster.

Mercado and Zimmer are out of minor league options.

Designated Hitter

  • Franmil Reyes (.344 with 32 AB)

Reyes is making his second consecutive appearance as DH for the Guardians’ Opening Day roster.

Utility

  • Ernie Clement (.467 with 30 AB)
  • Owen Miller (.333 with 33 AB)

This duo graduated from rookies in 2021 to make their Opening Day roster debut.

Since the club added just one extra pitcher to this temporarily extended roster, the 28th spot allowed the club to keep both on as utility players.

Clement mostly played third base at this year’s camp but also started at second, shortstop, and left field.

The versatile 26-year-old was already known for making highlight-worthy plays wherever he played defensively, but his time at the plate in Arizona made him a spark plug.

He stayed above .500 for most of Spring Training and finished with 1.269 OPS, even filled in as a PH and DH.

Miler spent the majority of camp at first base, but made a couple of appearances at second.

The 25-year-old also came into the game as a PR and DH.

Though not on any roster, a key member of the Guardians is also back in action - Manager Terry Francona.

After battling the pain for long as he could, Francona stepped away in July to have needed procedures on his hip and toe, cutting a second consecutive season short.

Taking the rest of the season and off-season to recover, Francona is was again at the helm of the clubhouse on two feet (and two shoes!) just in time for Spring Training.

Now, for the Opening Day lineup:

  • P: Shane Bieber
  • C: Austin Hedges
  • 1B: Bobby Bradley
  • 2B: Yu Chang
  • 3B: José Ramírez
  • SS: Andrés Giménez
  • LF: Amed Rosario
  • CF: Myles Straw
  • RF: Steven Kwan
  • DH: Franmil Reyes

This Opening Day game will be aired on Bally Sports Great Lakes, MLB.TV, Guardians Radio Network, and local AM flagship WTAM 1100.

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