One storyline to watch heading into the 2019 season for the Cleveland Indians is the comeback of centerfielder Leonys Martin.
The Indians acquired the 30-year-old outfielder from the Detroit Tigers at the July 31 trade deadline last season, hoping he would provide a spark to the outfield down the stretch.
He did provide a spark quickly hitting for .333 (5 for 15) with two home runs and four runs batted in during his first six games with Cleveland.
Following the Indians game against Minnesota on August 7, Martin became sick and it worsened to the point he had to check into the Cleveland Clinic.
Doctors diagnosed him with a bacterial infection that damaged some of his interal organs and Indians general manager Chris Antonetti told reporters back in August that it was “life-threatening” but thankfully Martin pulled through and made a full recovery.
He did not make a return to the field in 2018 and was a pending free agent but the Indians quickly signed him to a one-year contract following last season worth $3 million.
When he met with reporters last month during Tribe Fest, Martin thanked the Cleveland doctors as well as the organization for their support during that time including his teammates who marked “LM13” on their caps while he was in the hospital.
Martin will now step back onto the baseball field later this week as the leader of the Indians outfield with Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall departing the team during free agency.
The Indians outfield has a lot of question marks heading into 2019 with it currently projected with Martin, Greg Allen and Tyler Naquin as the starters with Matt Joyce, Jordan Luplow in the mix while Bradley Zimmer continues to recover from shoulder surgery.
Martin might not give you the big production you would like but he can be a reliable outfielder with his glove as he’s one of the underrated defensive centerfielders in the game.
His .248 career average obviously isn’t the most encouraging but the fact he’s back in the game after the life-threatening illness is the most important thing and whatever he brings to the Indians this season should be a bonus because we all know that in our lives and Martin can atest to this, tomorrow isn’t a given.