CLEVELAND -- The Indians' clubhouse was a hive of activity on Wednesday afternoon. With only one more game to play until the offseason, players were cleaning out their lockers, packing their bags and giving handshakes.
Even during a disappointing season, the end came too soon.
"That's why you play baseball, so you can play through October," Indians interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr. said. "Everybody's plan in Spring Training is that they're going to be in the World Series or in the postseason. When you're out of the race, you have that sense of disappointment.
"It's hard knowing your days are numbered and you have to go home."
After sitting in first place through the first 70 games (37-30), Cleveland is finishing its third season with 90-plus losses (68-94) within the past four years. It has been a tough year on a ballclub that entered the campaign with high hopes.
Alomar feels the players can learn from the experience.
"I hope they have a lot of growth," Alomar said. "In order to get better, you have to fail. We've had some ups and downs and it helps with your maturity as a baseball player and as a human being. This is a tough sport. Baseball is very hard. It's very hard for you to be consistent.
"In order for you to grow as a player, you have to fail. You have to have some bad times. I hope they learn from that, from all their struggles."
Choo wants to stay, but unconcerned with future
CLEVELAND -- Shin-Soo Choo seemed surprised when asked if he considered Wednesday's game might be his last with the Indians. The right fielder has not given much thought to the possibility that he could be traded this coming winter.
Choo hopes to avoid being fitted for a new uniform.
"Yeah, next year. I want to come back," Choo said prior to the season finale with the White Sox. "But, as I've said earlier, I can't control that. I want to stay here, but it's not easy. The team makes the decision. If the team says, 'Go,' I'll go. I hope I can come back here."
Choo is entering his final offseason of arbitration-eligibility after earning $4.9 million this year, and the general consensus is that the right fielder will test free agency after the 2013 season. Under the circumstances, it seems likely that the Tribe will, at the very least, be open-minded about listening to trade offers for Choo.
Leading up to the July 31 Trade Deadline this season, Choo was rumored to be a target of the Pirates. The right fielder was briefly caught up in reports linking him to trade talks, but he tried to keep his focus on the season at hand.
"I never think about trade rumors or the Trade Deadline," Choo said. "Maybe there were two days I worried about it or was thinking about it, but I talked to my agent [Scott Boras] and after that, my job was just to play baseball. I can't do anything about it."
Choo was in the lineup for Wednesday's game against the White Sox, upping his season total to 155 games played. The right fielder hit .283 with 16 home runs, 43 doubles, 67 RBIs and 21 stolen bases. It has been a strong comeback showing for Choo, who missed a significant amount of time last year because of a hand injury.
"I'm happy for him," Indians interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr. said. "Choo has been very durable this year. He got hit a couple times and still played through it. He's a tough guy, man. Choo is a tough kid. He goes out there every day and you ask him how he feels and it's, 'I'm ready to play.' He comes to the ballpark ready to play every day. That's what you ask of your horses."
This season, Choo became only the third Cleveland player since 1918 to have at least 15 homers, 20 stolen bases, 40 doubles and 60 RBIs in one season. Roberto Alomar (1999, 2000) and Grady Sizemore (2006) also accomplished the feat.
"My first goal is always that the team makes the playoffs," Choo said of his season. "We didn't make the playoffs this year. The second goal is I want to play as many games as possible. I think I made that goal this year. I played 155 games this year.
"I'm happy. I can't hit 20 homers or hit .300, but I played many games and I'm healthy. I'm happy with this season."
Quote to note
"This is a proud moment, not only for myself, but for my country, Puerto Rico. They haven't developed many managers -- only Edwin Rodriguez and myself. My family is very happy. I just look at it as an opportunity to open doors for fellow Puerto Ricans, too."
-- Sandy Alomar Jr., on being the Indians' interim manager to end the season
Alomar is scheduled to take part in a formal interview for the full-time job on Thursday. Cleveland will then interview former manager Terry Francona for the job on Friday. Alomar has previously interviewed for manager posts with the Blue Jays (2010), Red Sox and Cubs (both 2011).
"I know that I can do it," Alomar said. "I did a few interviews before with three different organizations and I felt like they were great. They complimented me and they called me back and they were very happy about how things went. This is a different scenario."
Alomar was not willing to speculate about what the Indians' needs will be this offseason, but he did say that Cleveland's offense was too inconsistent this season. The Indians finished the season ranked 13th in the American League with 667 runs scored.
"There were struggles out there with the offense this year," Alomar said. "There were struggles. We left many guys on base, including guys on third base with nobody out. The guys know that. They know they could've done better. That needs to improve."
With their 4-3 victory over the White Sox on Tuesday night, the Indians improved to 24-12 (.667 winning percentage) in one-run games this year. Entering Wednesday, that winning percentage ranked second in the Majors behind playoff-bound Baltimore (29-9, .763).