The Cleveland Indians announced that outfielder Collin Cowgill will be on the team’s opening day roster.
The former University of Kentucky and Henry Clay High School star helped clinch that spot with a three-run home run in his only at-bat in Sunday’s spring training game. Cowgill got into the game as a pinch runner and scored on a ground ball by Michael Martinez.
Right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall will start the season on the 15-day disabled list with a left wrist injury, and that allowed the Indians to keep both Cowgill and Marlon Byrd.
Cowgill had struggled at the plate for much of spring training. Overall, through Sunday, he was batting .143 with three doubles, two home runs and nine RBI.
But he had four hits in nine at-bats — plus two walks — in his last five games.
“I’m glad he’s feeling better about himself, but those aren’t the things that help you make the club,” Manager Terry Francona told the Associated Press. “The defense that he brings and the baserunning are things we value in that role (fourth or fifth outfielder).
“We’re starting to see better swings,” Francona said after Sunday’s game. “It’s been the last four or five days where he’s been more himself. I don’t know if he’s always going to hit homers, but he’s been a lot more himself. You get a couple hits and you can relax a little bit.”
Cowgill, who came to the Indians in the offseason via a trade with the Angels, had a pair of doubles last Thursday against the Dodgers.
“What you want is to see guys kind of at their best, or close to it,” Francona said after that game. “At least see what they can do, so then you can make your decisions. It was hard, because he was struggling so much. But, what he does — the defensive player, the baserunner — the things he can do are there.
“So, it’s nice to see him swinging the bat, because you know he can.”
He said Thursday that his struggles at the plate had frustrated him because it was preventing him from showing the Indians what he could do on the basepaths.
“You feel like you have a lot to offer,” Cowgill said. “I like to make things happen. When you’re not getting on, you can’t really show everything that you’re capable of, not just to the coaches, but to your teammates, too. You want them to understand what kind of game you can play, your style of play.”
Cowgill’s ability to play all three outfield positions helped him make the roster, too.
“I’ve been a fourth, fifth outfielder for a long time now,” Cowgill said after Thursday’s game. “I know that role and I feel like I can excel in that role or whatever capacity they might need me in. It’s nice to have a track record of some success in the big leagues.”