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After a slow offseason, Indians don't see reason for pessimism ahead of 2018 season

Ryan Lewis, Akron Beacon Journal on

Published in Baseball

Terry Francona dropped the line of the winter this week.

The Indians manager guaranteed that once spring training begins next month, the Indians will come back "with a vengeance" in the wake of a disappointing, early exit from the 2017 postseason.

It's a line that sort of goes without saying, but it certainly fired up some Indians fans on social media ahead of Saturday's TribeFest at the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland. On Friday, though, Francona mostly laughed it off.

"I just got on a roll the other night," Francona said. "I was tired. I thought everybody was ready to go. Whatever it takes, whether guys use that for -- I don't care what they use. You hear it all the time. Every team that wins is like, 'Well, nobody believed in us.' That's the silliest thing I've ever heard.

"But if that's what guys use, good for them. That's OK. We have an obligation as a team to take whatever we can and use it to propel us to be as good as we can be."

The Indians turned in a 102-win season that included the second-longest winning streak in baseball history. That regular season followed their oh-so-close loss in extra innings of Game 7 of the 2016 World Series to the Chicago Cubs. The momentum was there, and the expectations were World Series Or Bust.

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Thus, the disappointing, early exit from the American League Division Series to the New York Yankees last October was enough to leave a bitter taste. With many players in town for TribeFest and the start of spring training creeping closer, the Indians are welcoming a chance to find the mouthwash and start anew.

"To get so close in '16 and to watch it go away, to lose, you look back on it as a successful season, a lot of great memories from it, but you still have that hunger and that taste in your mouth of getting back there to try to win," Josh Tomlin said. "Obviously, that's everybody's goal to start spring training. A handful of teams can't say they're in a position to win a World Series, and we're very fortunate to be in that position.

"We enjoy the expectations -- it means we're doing our job. A lot of teams maybe might not like the expectations or the weight on their shoulders, but this team relishes that and enjoys that."

To this point, the Indians haven't made the kind of headline-stealing moves other contenders in the American League have, like the Yankees trading for Giancarlo Stanton or the Houston Astros dealing for Gerrit Cole.

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