SAN DIEGO -- When the Indians take on the Twins in Friday's home opener, it will mark the 20th anniversary of the first game at Progressive Field. Cleveland plans on celebrating that moment as part of its Opening Week festivities.
Former Indians catcher and current first-base coach Sandy Alomar Jr. will receive the ceremonial first pitch from former manager Mike Hargrove prior to Friday's 3:05 p.m. ET tilt against Minnesota. The Indians will also raise a 20th anniversary flag and show a video tribute to the first game against the Mariners at then-Jacobs Field on April 4, 1994.
Gates will open at 1 p.m., and the Indians are encouraging fans to get to their seats by 2:30 p.m. to enjoy the pregame events.
Cleveland plans on recognizing the 2013 squad that captured the American League's top Wild Card spot and took the Indians to the postseason for the first time since 2007. As part of the proceedings, the Indians will also honor a select group of season-ticket holders who have stuck with the Indians every season since 1994.
The Indians will also have a moment of silence for late broadcaster Mike Hegan.
Members of all branches of the United States military will also be honored, as members of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard will present the colors. The national anthem will be performed by the Cleveland Orchestra Double String Quartet, which has members who also performed the anthem on Opening Day in '94.
Tribe trio applauds drug program changes
SAN DIEGO -- Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association jointly announced a series of changes to the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program on Friday. Many players inside Cleveland's clubhouse were pleased to hear the news.
"I think it's great," Indians first baseman Nick Swisher said. "I think Major League Baseball is making the steps in the right direction to clean our game up. As players, we have a lot of influence on that, and as a league, we are making strides to let guys know that, if you take a chance of doing this, you will get caught."
Beyond increasing the in-season testing and testing for HGH, MLB and the MLBPA increased the length of suspensions for offenders. A first-time positive test will result in an 80-game suspension, a second violation will mean a 162-game penalty and a third violation calls for the player to be permanently suspended. Any players testing positive will also be ineligible for postseason play that season, even if their suspension has been completed.
Indians manager Terry Francona's friendship with Commissioner Bud Selig dates back to their days with the Brewers. Prior to Friday's exhibition game against the Padres at University of San Diego's Fowler Park, Francona said he knows how passionate Selig is about cleaning up the game.
"From what I know of Mr. Selig, and I probably know him better than most," Francona said, "he cares so much about the game. I think we kind of took a beating in the early '90s. I think that's something that, before he retires, would like to see a little better. Just when you talk to him, he cares so much about the game. That's, unfortunately, been part of it."
Veteran Jason Giambi, who is entering his 20th season in the Majors, has been open about his past use of performance-enhancing drugs. Giambi said it is important that MLB and the MLBPA are taking steps to make players think twice about using any banned substances.
"The biggest thing is, not only the penalties, but you want the deterrent to keep guys from doing it," Giambi said. "I know a lot of guys have complained about guys still being able to play and things like that. It's definitely voted on by all the players, and I think everybody is in agreement with it."
Swisher echoed that sentiment.
"I think just in general, if you break the law, you've got to pay," Swisher said. "Major League Baseball is the law, and they're doing a great job of cleaning it up, and we're proud of that, man. We want our sport to be clean and we want to go out there and give everybody the same fair shot."
Indians won't rush Bourn; Giambi improving
SAN DIEGO -- The Indians plan on being cautious with Michael Bourn's comeback from his left hamstring injury, making it unlikely that the center fielder will return from the disabled when he first becomes eligible.
On Friday, Cleveland manager Terry Francona noted that Bourn will need to play some rehab games before returning from the disabled list. Bourn is expected to be placed on the 15-day DL on Sunday, making April 5 the earliest he can rejoin the Tribe.
Francona said it will probably take a little longer.
"The best-case scenario is he misses six days, four games," Francona said. "I wouldn't be surprised that, even if he's ready to play, maybe it's a few more days just so he can be the player he wants to be. He's willing to go out there, which we appreciate.
"But at the beginning of the season, with so many games left to play and having that speed component being so important, we need to let him feel good about himself."
Bourn, who tweaked his hamstring during a Cactus League game against the Giants on March 16, remained in Arizona and recently resumed running the bases.
Veteran Jason Giambi -- in line to serve as a pinch-hitter and part-time designated hitter for Cleveland this season -- continues to progress in his comeback from a fractured rib in his right side. Giambi, who broke the rib on a hit-by-pitch on March 7, hit in the batting cage on Friday and continued to hit off a tee and do soft-toss drills.
Giambi is also in line to be placed on the 15-day DL on Sunday and is hoping to be able to return when eligible on April 5. Giambi needs to take regular batting practice (currently scheduled for Monday in Oakland), and he said the Indians want to also simulate a pinch-hitting scenario before activating him.
"Everything feels great, so we'll just keep going," Giambi said. "I know they want to still do one time where I hit and then have to act like I have to pinch-hit. [I'll] sit kind of for a while and try to get it going, because that's where I'm beneficial for the ballclub as well."
Francona has been encouraged by Giambi's progress.
"He's doing really well," said the manager. "Everything he's doing right now, he's not feeling any pain. That's really good. There's got to be a little bit of a progression, but G's not playing every day, so we don't have to run him out there every day. But we do have to do a progression where it's fair to him, so he can help us."
Quote to note
"It's not going to change the way we pitch him."
-- Francona, on Miguel Cabrera's new contract with the Tigers
• The Indians and Padres opted to play two exhibition games at University of San Diego's Fowler Park to give fans a kind of Spring Training environment. Bleachers were added to bring the ballpark's capacity to around 3,000. Francona played on the field during his days at University of Arizona.
"I actually played here in 1980," Francona said. "I remember thinking how pretty it was, but it wasn't a ballpark. It was just a field. I think college baseball all over the place, it's amazing some of the fields they have now. They're more like ballparks than fields."
• The Indians are scheduled to face left-hander Scott Kazmir on Tuesday in the second game of the regular season. Out of affiliated baseball in 2012, Kazmir played a key role for Cleveland last season before signing a two-year, $22 million deal with Oakland over the winter.
"I hope we beat his brains out, but I'm happy for him," Francona said. "I don't think you'll find too many people that aren't happy for him. His comeback was pretty amazing. From where he was, to signing the kind of contract he did, whether you wanted to pay him that or not, you've still got to be happy for him."
• Francona said he is still weighing what to do for his Opening Day lineup. The manager did note that Carlos Santana will be at third base, Nyjer Morgan will likely be in center field and Ryan Raburn might be given the nod at designated hitter. Francona said he is scheduled to meet with staff members on Sunday to discuss a variety of issues.
• Utility man Mike Aviles (lower back soreness) was scratched from the lineup on Thursday and remained out for Friday's exhibition against the Padres. Aviles tweaked his back while loading his truck in Arizona, according to Francona. The injury is not considered serious, and Aviles said he felt fine on Friday afternoon.