The Indians roster purge has claimed one of the good guys.
As they look towards next season and as the season wears on, the Indians have decided to move on from an intriguing piece to what they thought was a division contending formula. In what was a move made likely to replace an injured Roberto Hernandez for a start, Jeanmar Gomez has been recalled to Cleveland and to make room, the Indians designated Shelley Duncan for assignment.
This likely brings an end to his time with Cleveland.
Duncan was signed as minor league free agent from the Yankee organization a few years ago. He played and was an important part to a Columbus Clippers team that had just moved over from the Yankees organization and in a city he had become very familiar with. When he got an opportunity to contribute in Cleveland, he ran with it and eventually became a delightful surprise to 2011 squad. So much so that when Grady Sizemore could not get healthy enough to start in 2012, the Indians made Duncan their left fielder.
For a few weeks at least. That was until they decided to sign Johnny Damon and almost immediately, Duncan's strong start faded and since he's been filling even less of a part-time role than he had been in years past.
Here's the thing though. He's not the best player, not the greatest hitter. He is good for probably one thing and one thing only, hitting some absolute bombs over the outfield walls. But he does it well when he does it and he brings a fire to any dugout. He brings that glue element that any good baseball team needs. Shelley Duncan brings an intensity and fire that is likely unmatched by anyone on that club.
I got to calling Shelley Duncan Hawkman last year after it was revealed he recently got a hawk tattoo on his shoulder. Why? Why not. I've grown to love the guy who once autographed a piece of paper for a Boston Red Sox fan and added "Red Sox Suck" right before his signature. It seems ridiculous and totally uncalled for, and maybe it is. But it is what makes Duncan unique.
As an Indians fan, not knowing anything about Duncan, it's a punk move. Knowing him as an Indian and seeing him play this game with fire and passion the past few years, it's funny and slightly acceptable to me. He's a guy any clubhouse needs. Do they need him to win a championship? No, plenty of teams have won titles without a guy like Shelley Duncan. But if I'm building a roster, I'm putting a guy like Duncan on my bench. He may not bring a whole lot to the table, but what he lacks, he makes up for in aspects many other players simply cannot do.
Because what he can do you cannot teach. You cannot learn or practice at. You cannot fake passion.
For a team that has been playing with a clear lack of passion, intensity, and fire, the move to designated Shelley Duncan at this particular time is fascinating. But it isn't like Duncan was playing much anyway, so maybe it's only right he goes on to find another opportunity somewhere else. He can hit a major league home run, so someone will surely scoop him up and give him a shot.
And I hope he thrives. I hope he finds a space he can play and bring that same passion and energy to like he did in Cleveland.
I'll always be a fan of Shelley Duncan. He's endeared himself to me and I'm sure many other Cleveland fans and I will always support him.
Thanks for everything Hawkman.