Kluber calls trip to New York for Cy Young ‘a little surreal’
CLEVELAND — After getting his American League Cy Young Award in New York Saturday night, Corey Kluber was back in Cleveland late Sunday morning and made an appearance at Tribe Fest.
Kluber, along with catcher Yan Gomes, were given the option of returning to their offseason homes after Saturday’s banquet but chose to return to Cleveland for the final day of Tribe Fest.
The Indians entourage to New York also included pitching coach Mickey Callaway, manager Terry Francona and general manager Chris Antonetti. Kluber’s wife, Amanda, his parents and agent also attended.
"I’d say it probably has been (a little surreal). I think last night was probably maybe like it all coming to a head — getting to sit up at a table with all those award winners and past players, things like that," Kluber said. "It was very cool to have a chance to not only sit at a table with, but have a chance to meet and talk a little bit with people like Cal Ripken and Sandy Koufax. Legends of the game."
Kluber received his award from John Smoltz, who will be part of this year’s Baseball Hall of Fame class. Kluber did get to present the NL Rookie of the Year award to fellow Stetson alum and Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom. The awards were presented during the Baseball Writers Association of America’s annual dinner in New York.
In winning the award, Kluber is the fourth Cy Young winner in franchise history, joining Gaylord Perry (1972), C.C. Sabathia (2007) and Cliff Lee (2008). The Indians are the first team since the Blue Jays (1996-2003) to have three different Cy Young winners within an eight-year span.
"I think I have a grasp of it now," Kluber said. "Not to downplay it at all. I think the coolest part about last night was just getting to sit at (the table with) and be recognized along with all those other people."
Gomes didn’t find out until a couple days before Tribe Fest that he was also getting to attend. Like Kluber, Gomes was also a little in awe of who else was at the event.
Gomes added: "I was like a little kid. I was too nervous to talk to anybody, really. … Oh my gosh. We were sitting up there watching from (Sandy) Koufax to Willie Mays and Frank Robinson and all these guys. You’re seeing Cal Ripken sitting up there. It was an amazing experience and I’m very thankful."
When asked about the possibility of a new contract for Kluber, Indians president Mark Shapiro said that it is something they will start to assess when spring training starts. Kluber made $524,000 this season which included a $10,000 incentive for winning the Cy Young.
As the ace of the staff, Kluber is one of the hardest workers on the team. But he will also turn 29 on April 10, which is the Tribe’s home opener against Detroit.
"You look at contracts and you say, ‘Can we find that point where we’re both comfortable with the shared risk?’ We don’t know that right now. That’s something that we’ll have to look at," Shapiro said. "’Can we find that point where Corey is comfortable with his risk and the amount of money he might be giving up should he go through the process year to year, and we’re comfortable with our risk and what it means to commit those dollars over an extended period of time? But he has all the precursors that we would look for to enter into a multi-year agreement."
It has been a whirlwind week for Kluber, who also was honored as the Best Professional Athlete in Cleveland during Thursday’s Greater Cleveland Sports Awards. Despite the busy schedule Kluber said he has fun coming to Tribe Fest because it marks only a couple weeks until spring training.
"You’re already excited about getting going. And then you get back here and you see how excited fans are, and you get to see your teammates. Things like that, it just adds that extra level to where, when you do get to Arizona, it’s almost like you can’t wait," he said.