Pitchers and catchers report to spring training Monday, a year after the Indians claimed 95 days of squatter's rights in first place in the AL Central.

Despite a rude eviction by the Detroit Tigers, there's something to be said for holding on for that long. With this ownership in this market and this economy, the resulting optimism is not exactly an annual rite of spring.

So please set your contention timers at two years and counting. Nobody wants to hear contention for the Indians is going to be cyclical at best, but that's the reality. A lot has to go right to extend the cycle. This season will go a long way to determining the length of this one, and also the next expiration date.

The Indians spent the off-season adding some proven roster depth, brought in a new first baseman and acquired experience for their starting rotation beyond the three extra years on Roberto Hernandez' birth certificate. Yet the player who best symbolizes where they're at, where they hope to go and the narrow margin for error in reaching the postseason, isn't Casey Kotchman, Derek Lowe, Kevin Slowey or Fausto Carmona's alter ego.