Lindor: ‘I have to put myself in a position where they feel comfortable.’
COLUMBUS — With Jose Ramirez’s struggles, there has been increasing clamor from fans and media this month about when Francisco Lindor will get promoted by the Indians and make his MLB debut.
During the Tribe’s last homestand, Terry Francona and general manager Chris Antonetti was asked about it. The first six minutes of Antonetti’s 18-minute interview session last week with the team’s beat writers was on Ramirez and Lindor.
For Lindor, the speculation surrounding him is nothing new. Since he was drafted eighth overall by the Indians in 2011, the talk at every level he has played has been about when he would make the next step. Since arriving in Columbus last July, the question of when he will arrive in Cleveland has been a constant.
Lindor knows that the talk is out there but has a concise answer when asked if he wonders about it too — it is beyond his control.
"It’s not up to me; it’s up to the Indians. Whenever they want it to happen, it’s going to happen. If I perform it’s going to happen," Lindor said after batting practice on Wednesday as the Clippers prepared to face Buffalo. "I have to put myself in a position where they feel comfortable."
Lindor is batting .261 with three home runs and 18 RBI. His five errors are seventh in the International League among the 14 regular shortstops in the league.
Antonetti said last week that Lindor is not yet to the point of dominating opposing pitchers in the IL but that he was progressing well. Lindor had a 10-game hitting streak snapped on Monday where he went 17-for-45 during that span. He wasn’t in the starting lineup on Wednesday for only the second time in 40 games this season but came into the game as a pinch-hitter in the eighth.
Lindor said he didn’t know he had a hitting streak until someone told him on Tuesday.
"I’m just trying to work on everything," he said. "I’m trying to be more consistent fielding, running and hitting along with working on the little things."
When it comes to Lindor, consistency is often mentioned as the one thing he needs to show more of before getting promoted. When Lindor got to the Clippers last season, he went 10-for-27 the first seven games then 7-for-50 over the next 11. He got hot the final 20 regular-season games when he went 29-for-88 and was 6-for-17 in the IL playoffs.
The ebbs and flows of Lindor’s streaks and slumps have carried into this year. In the first 15 games, he batted .191 (9-for-47) before going 10-for-16 to raise his average to .302 on April 26. Since then he is hitting .236.
Clippers manager Chris Tremie said he is starting to see more signs of consistency from Lindor at the plate the past couple weeks.
"Offensively he has been a little hot and cold (this season) but during the hitting streak his approach remained consistent," Tremie said. "Earlier in the season there was a time when there wasn’t as much consistency, but now it is starting to show more at-bat to at-bat and game to game."
The Indians typically haven’t called up high-ranked prospects until after the Super Two cutoff point. They have also stressed repeatedly the past couple months that the last thing they want to do is call him up and have him struggle. It would also be easier if Lindor were promoted while the team was playing well, which would take some of the focus off him. Whether they can wait that long remains a source of debate among fans on Twitter.
The timetable for Lindor has been for him to spend almost an entire season at each stop. He played all of 2012 at Low-A Lake County, most of 2013 at High-A Carolina (83 games) and 109 games at Double-A Akron last year. Wednesday was Lindor’s 77th game with the Clippers.
When asked if any frustration or anxiety was creeping in, especially with rising expectations, Lindor said there wasn’t and added, "I’ve been enjoying the process since day one. I’m too happy of a guy to be frustrated. I’ve been trying to do what I can and be more consistent in all aspects."