MLB: Versatile David Fry aims to guide Guardians past Angels

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David Fry began spring training with no guarantees that he would even be on the major league roster when the season started. Now, the first-place Cleveland Guardians call him the “heart and soul” of the team.

Fry started at catcher and went 2-for-3 with a homer and two walks in the Guardians’ 10-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday in the opener of a three-game series in Anaheim, Calif.

He’ll look for another strong outing when the teams play again on Saturday.

Fry is the club’s ultimate utility tool, having served as Cleveland’s catcher, first baseman, third baseman, left fielder and designated hitter.

While his versatility is beneficial for the team, it’s his offensive production that has forced manager Stephen Vogt to find a spot for him in the lineup as much as possible.

In 35 games, Fry is hitting .360 with six homers, 19 RBIs, three stolen bases and a 1.128 OPS.

“He just continues to just have a slow heartbeat and go up and have a professional at-bat every time out,” Vogt said. “But to be able to drive the ball the other way and be ready to pull the ball when it needs to, he’s just really confident right now.

“He’s kind of the heart and soul behind the scenes. Whether he’s going well, going bad on the bench, in the game, moving positions eight times during the game, he wants to play and does it well. He means a lot to us.”

Fry is hitting 9-for-14 with three homers and seven RBIs in the past six games.

“When I’m going well, I’m not thinking about my swing,” Fry said. “Just how I’m going to attack the pitcher and his plan.”

Cleveland right-hander Tanner Bibee (2-1, 3.93 ERA) will make his 11th start of the season on Saturday.

Bibee has received a no-decision in each of his past two starts, despite allowing just one run in 12 1/3 innings. He is 0-2 with a 4.12 ERA in three career starts against the Angels.

Right-hander Jose Soriano (2-4, 3.30) will make his 11th appearance (ninth start) on the mound on Saturday for the Angels. After going 0-4 with a 5.49 ERA in April, he is 2-0 with a 1.90 ERA in May. In his most recent start on Sunday, Soriano gave up one run in 7 2/3 innings in a 4-1 win over Texas.

Soriano’s fastball hits 100 mph and he keeps hitters off-balance with a knuckle-curve, impressing his teammates behind him.

“He just seems to get better and better with every start,” Angels outfielder Mickey Moniak said. “Obviously, last year, we saw him out of the ‘pen and he was incredible. For him to be able to transition back into a starter and learn as he goes and to kind of just progressively get better and refine his craft with that stuff, it’s fun to watch, especially from center field.”

Backup catcher Matt Thaiss was behind the plate in Soriano’s last start.

“Every umpire I talk to, they think it’s top-three stuff in all of baseball,” Thaiss said. “It’s out of this world. As long as he … fills up the zone, it’s kind of unhittable.”

–Field Level Media

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