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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

After leaving behind the Idaho cold, former WSU standout Kyle Manzardo embracing heat of spring training

Former Washington State standout Kyle Manzardo, seen with the Tampa Bay Rays, is now with the Cleveland Guardians.  (Tribune News Service)
By Paul Hoynes Tribune News Service

CLEVELAND – Like a lot of people, Kyle Manzardo went to Arizona in search of the sun.

He was looking to escape the cold. Not Cleveland cold. We’re talking Idaho cold. Ski resorts that typically get over 300 inches of snow a year and temperatures that are below freezing for an average of 292 days a year.

Put another log on the fire. While you’re at it, pass the hot water bottles and warm the bricks for bedtime.

When Manzardo arrived in Phoenix for spring training last month, he was eager to feel the heat.

“I was tired of doing everything inside,” Manzardo told “I wanted to get into some warm weather and see the sun again.”

Manzardo did not leave home in Coeur d’Alene simply to thaw his extremities. He came to chase his dream.

In January, the Guardians invited him to big league spring training in Goodyear, Arizona, as a nonroster player in what will be his first full season in the organization. Cleveland acquired Manzardo last year at the trade deadline in a deal that sent right-hander Aaron Civale to the Rays.

In 12 at-bats this spring, he’s batting .417 and he’s drawn a couple of walks.

Manzardo went to big league camp with the Rays last year in Port Charlotte, Florida. He didn’t have much of a chance to make the Rays, who won 99 games in the stacked AL East only to finish in second place to the 101-win Orioles. But Manzardo didn’t sneak in the back door.

In 2022. he batted .327 (106 for 324) with 26 doubles, 22 homers and 81 RBIs at Class A and Double-A. He earned the invitation.

Manzardo, 23, did not have that kind of season last year because of a left shoulder injury, but his chances of making the big leagues are better this spring. The Guardians are young and coming off an 86-loss season. They didn’t score a lot of runs and hit the fewest home runs in the big leagues. And they have room at first base and DH, Manzardo’s position.

“To get invited to spring training means a lot,” said Manzardo, ranked Cleveland’s No. 2 prospect by “I’m really excited to pick the brains of some of the great players who are going to be here. I just want to see how they go about their business and get ready for a season. That’s what makes it so valuable to me.”

When Cleveland’s spring training opened, Manzardo was among the first to arrive.

“They reached out and let me know camp was open,” Manzardo said. “That I would be good to cruise on down whenever. And like I said, I was ready to get some work in outside.”

Before the start of spring training, Manzardo said his daily offseason routine at Goodyear was strict. Breakfast at the facility between 7:30 a.m. and 8 ., stretch and prep work, hit in the cages, hit on the field, go through throwing and defensive drills, lift weights, eat lunch and take it home.

Manzardo had a similar routine in Coeur d’Alene. He trained with his brother Marcus. Their father Paul, a longtime high school and college baseball coach, was usually available to throw batting practice.

“But you were limited because everything was inside,” Manzardo said.

Tampa Bay used its second pick in the 2021 draft to select the left-handed hitting Manzardo out of Washington State University. St. Petersburg, Florida, however, is a long way from Idaho. It’s one of the reasons the Manzardo family is excited about Kyle’s new opportunity.

“I’m going to have people here the whole spring training,” Manzardo said. “The last two spring trainings combined, I’ve only had one friend come see me.

“It’s definitely a lot more exciting for me to train in Arizona. I’ve got family in Arizona and it’s not that far a flight from Coeur d’Alene.”

It will also make travel easier on Manzardo’s mother, Windy, who has been waiting for a heart transplant. Windy, a cardiac nurse, has been dealing with heart problems since 2021.

“My mom is hanging in there,” Manzardo said. “The thing about it is she won’t know if she’s getting a heart until it’s happening. It could be tomorrow. It could be years from now. We just sit around with our fingers crossed that one comes around for her.”

Manzardo’s 2023 season included stops at Triple-A Durham (.238, 11 homers, 38 RBIs) and Columbus (.256, six homers, 16 RBIs). It extended into the Arizona Fall League and that’s where he rediscovered his swing.

In 22 games, Manzardo hit .272 (25 for 92) with six homers and 19 RBIs against the best young players MLB had to offer. Statcast tracked one of his homers at 460 feet. He added two more homers in three playoff games for the Peoria Javelinas.

“I don’t think I surprised myself,” Manzardo said. “I was just having fun. It was a really good time. I loved it out there in the fall league.”

As young as the Guardians are, and as much as they need run production from hitters like Manzardo, it’s hardly a given that he’ll break camp with the big league club. The Guardians have a history of starting their major league-ready prospects at Columbus and promoting them to Cleveland based on need, opportunity and performance.

They feel Cleveland’s cold weather in April and May can work against a young player. Well, Manzardo has a handle on the cold, but what will be will be.

“All that stuff isn’t my decision to make,” Manzardo said. “I try not to think too much about it. The goal is to play in the big leagues.

“But if I go to Columbus, I’m OK with that.”