The Indians know that the Tigers are the heavy favorites in the American League Central. The whole division knows that.
They also know that favorites don't always win, that things go wrong, key guys get hurt.
The problem for the Indians now is that the first key guys who got hurt were theirs.
What was first diagnosed as a lower back strain for Grady Sizemore is now something worse, with the news that Sizemore had lower back surgery Thursday morning and is facing 8-12 weeks of recovery. Already ruled out for opening day, now Sizemore could miss the first month of the season, or more.
Indians closer Chris Perez is also out, with an oblique strain.
But the Sizemore news is worse, even if it does feel predictable.
This will be the fourth straight year that Sizemore has missed considerable time (after four years in which he missed just seven games total). He has played just 104 games the last two seasons combined.
It's easy to forget that he's still just 29 years old, easy to forget that he was a three-time All-Star, easy to forget that his general manager once called him "one of the greatest players of our generation."
"I definitely can get back to playing the way I always played," Sizemore told me last spring.
Is that still true, now that he has added back surgery to knee surgery and to a sports hernia and an elbow injury?
The Indians were willing to take a chance on him this year, bringing him back on a one-year deal that guarantees him $5 million and includes another $4 million in bonuses based on plate appearances.
He won't make all of that bonus money now, but the bigger problem for the Indians is that they won't have him in their lineup.
To win, the Indians need a lot of things to go right, and they need the Tigers to have things go wrong.
They don't need this.