CLEVELAND -- One more win.
After building a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven format, the Cleveland Indians pushed the Chicago Cubs to the 10th inning of Game 7 of the 2016 World Series before coming up one run short of their first world championship since 1948.
Despite a shortened offseason, the Indians brought back all but one of their arbitration-eligible players and signed the biggest free agent in franchise history, slugger Edwin Encarnacion, to a three-year contract with a club option for a fourth season with the mindset of doing what is necessary to win the World Series.
“Hopefully, we are all just one win better,” reliever Andrew Miller said prior to spring training. “That’s all it takes. Hopefully, it was a good experience for everybody that we can look back on fondly, but this year’s better. Hopefully, it’s something we can draw upon and be better in the postseason. We had a lot of things go our way, and hopefully, we don’t need those breaks because we’re more experienced.”
Although the Indians have garnered much attention in the offseason for their additions, with some long-tenured reporters predicting they will return, if not win the World Series, Miller knows that such opinions cannot interfere with any of Cleveland’s preparations.
“That doesn’t matter,” Miller said. “All that matters is who’s standing at the end of the year. I’ve been a part of preseason teams that were meant to win it all and didn’t even make the playoffs, so I don’t really care about that. It’s to find a way to put yourself in a good position in the division down the stretch and take care of business from there.
“You hope you handle it well. I’ve been a part of teams that were expected to do it and didn’t do squat. I think this team has the personality and the character to show up and have a good season. A lot of things can happen, but right now, we’re in great shape and looking forward to it.”
In 2016, Miller was a mid-season acquisition of the Indians from the New York Yankees, and proved to be critical to the team’s playoff run.
Miller pitched in 10 games last postseason, and over 19.1 innings of work for the short-handed Indians, he struck out a Major League Baseball record 30 hitters against just five walks and 12 hits with three earned runs.
And now that he has a spring training, albeit an abbreviated one because of the World Baseball Classic, under his belt with the Indians, Miller is ready to get the season underway and chase down the ultimate prize of a World Series championship.
“The energy, the effort that we put in, it wasn’t a fluke that we got there,” Miller said. “It was a lot of fun being a part of this group of guys. I think they certainly were a big part of me being able to come in and have success.
“Hopefully, it’s something we can look back upon and appreciate the run maybe a little bit more than focusing in on the last game that we played, but it’ll be even better if we go back and finish the job this year.”
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