|Questions and answers: Indians general manager Chris Antonetti||04.04.11 at 9:57 pm ET|
CLEVELAND — As the Red Sox get ready to take on the Indians in a three-game series at Progressive Field, first-year Cleveland general manager Chris Antonetti took a few moments to answer five questions posed by WEEI.com:
WEEI.com: It’s been about 14 months since the Indians announced that they would transition from Mark Shapiro to you as the GM. How did your responsibilities change, if at all, once that announcement was made in 2010, and again when the transition was completed after last season?
Antonetti: I am really fortunate that Mark has always been great about providing me with opportunities to grow and develop. In my time as [Assistant GM], Mark involved me in all areas of our operations so there really isn’t anything I am doing now that I haven’t had some experience with already. The primary difference between this year and last year is the sense of accountability and responsibility that comes with the position.
WEEI.com: A lot of us saw Carlos Santana’s horrible injury last year, which he incurred on a collision with Ryan Kalish at Fenway Park. Given the way his season ended, it must have been immensely satisfying to see him in the lineup and hitting a homer on Opening Day. Does he face any restrictions going forward, and how do you project him long-term?
Antonetti: Thankfully, Carlos has fully recovered from the knee injury he suffered last year. He progressed through a normal spring training and we don’t anticipate any limitations for him going forward.
WEEI.com: How would you evaluate Justin Masterson’s first full year with you in 2010, and what did you see from him in spring training this year? How about Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price?
Antonetti: We felt Justin pitched very well last year in his first season as starter in the Major Leagues. He continued to improve as the season progressed and we are confident that he will build upon his second-half success this year. Nick and Bryan both made strides in their development last year and have a chance to contribute to our major league pitching staff in the near future.
WEEI.com: On the subject of the Victor Martinez trade – obviously, you guys had a tremendous relationship with Martinez. How difficult is it to face a market reality in which you will at times have to trade franchise cornerstones?
Antonetti: Nearly every team faces the reality that it can’t retain every player it values. Inevitably some players will leave via free agency and some players will be traded prior to reaching that point. In Victor’s case, even though it was a prudent decision for the organization, it was especially painful to trade him rather than allow him to reach free agency because he combines exceptional production on the field with unmatched character, passion, and professionalism. He is a special player and person that had a profound and lasting impact on our organization.
WEEI.com: You have been part of one rebuilding effort in Cleveland that started in 2002 and brought the Indians within a game of the World Series in 2007. Where do you guys feel you are in the current effort to create the nucleus of a contender?
Antonetti: We feel that we are on our way back to becoming a championship caliber team. We have a young, but very talented major league roster bolstered by a strong and deep minor league system. The timing of our success will largely depend upon how quickly this group transitions from a collection of young players with potential to a championship caliber team that consistently produces at the Major league level. We are doing everything we can to try to expedite that process.
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