CLEVELAND - Despite having just hit his 30th home run, Francisco Lindor isn't ready to call himself a power hitter just yet.
When will he?
"When I hit 50," the Cleveland Indians shortstop said with his trademark smile.
Lindor was joking -- at least I think he was joking -- but with the way his first two-plus years in the big leagues have gone, maybe he wasn't. As he nears the end of just his second full season on the Indians roster, the 23-year-old is already a bona fide star and the key cog of a team currently in the midst of a historic winning streak.
"Remember when you guys would ask me [about Lindor's potential] and I would say, 'I don't know, but it's going to be fun to watch?'" Cleveland manager Terry Francona said following the team's 2-0 victory vs. the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday, which gave the Indians their 20th straight victory. "It has been."
"Fun" seems to be a word that comes up often when describing Lindor.
Whether it's been displaying his Gold Glove defense or his newfound pop at the plate, Lindor can seldom be found without a smile on his face. That approach has earned him the nickname "Mr. Smile" and led to Lindor becoming one of the most popular young players in not just Cleveland, but all of baseball.
"My job is the best," Lindor said of his fun-loving approach. "I get to come play a game as my job? I don't really consider that a job. So why not enjoy it, why not smile and why not have fun?"
Over the last three weeks, the 2-time All-Star has given fans even more reasons than usual to share in his joy as 9 of his 30 home runs this season have come during the Indians' ongoing 20-game winning streak. In more ways than one, Lindor's 30th home run served as a microcosm of both his accelerated growth and importance to his team, as the leadoff shot gave Cleveland a 1-0 lead it never looked back from.
For a team that's been steadfast in downplaying what's becoming an increasingly historic winning streak, it's hard to watch Lindor play and think that this run has simply been "business as usual." Over the past three weeks, there have been plenty of smiles in Cleveland to go around -- although few have been brighter than the one glued on the face of the Indians' shortstop.
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