WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- What was hoped -- maybe even expected -- to be a fast ascension through the Indians Minor League system has been a slow crawl for Mike Aubrey.

In fact, all too often, Aubrey's progression has been downright stagnant.

That's no knock on the former No. 1 draft pick's talents on the field. It's more of a comment on his ability to even get on the field. The injury bug has bitten Aubrey a cruel number of times since the Indians took him with the 11th overall selection in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft.

Aubrey has dealt with a significant injury in each of his professional seasons since that draft. And over the last two seasons, a lower back strain and a right knee strain limited the prospect once viewed as the Indians' future at first base to a mere 42 games.

"It's tough," Aubrey said. "But at the same time, I see the possibility in the future. I've always been a goal-oriented guy. That's all I'm going to try to do this year, is set goals I can achieve."

The first one is simple: Stay healthy, and stay on the field during Spring Training.

Aubrey was unable to do so a year ago. He was in big-league camp with the Tribe but never set foot on the field, as he was rehabbing the back strain, which was suffered early in the '05 season at Double-A Akron.

After spending the first month of the '06 season in extended Spring Training, Aubrey finally took the field for Class A Kinston on May 1. Eight games later, he was bumped back up to Akron. But six games into that stint with the Aeros, he was back on the DL -- this time with the knee problem.

"I was on first, there was a slow roller to second base, the second baseman tried to tag me, I tried to jump over the tag, and I felt something in my knee," Aubrey recalled. "It didn't feel like anything too crazy at first, but it swelled up over the next couple innings, to the point where I couldn't bend my knee."

For the next eight weeks, Aubrey was on crutches. Then came four weeks of rehab, wiping out the remainder of the '06 schedule.

"It was a very disappointing circumstance," Aubrey said. "But hopefully it's not something that's going to affect me any longer. It feels good now."

The Indians -- keeping in mind the sweet swing that urged them to draft Aubrey so high -- have been remarkably patient with him, even as the injuries have piled up. He remains a member of their 40-man roster, though this is generally considered to be a big year for the 25-year-old to back up that standing.

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"As disappointing as it has been for me to not be on the field, I know it's been the same for them," Aubrey said. "They've been very understanding through every aspect of my rehab. Now, it's time for me to get back."

More than anything, Aubrey, who has a .311 average with 27 homers and 133 RBIs in 178 Minor League games, is just looking for a little momentum. A full, healthy season would certainly be a good start.

"It's about getting all four wheels down on the ground and rolling, and heading in a positive direction," he said. "And keep going over those speed bumps."

Mixing it up: The influx of veterans signed to pitch out of the Indians' bullpen most likely bumped Brian Sikorski to Triple-A Buffalo for the start of '07.

But Sikorski, who was removed from the Indians' 40-man roster in January, cleared waivers and was given a non-roster invitation to Spring Training, believes he can make it back to the Tribe if he learns to more effectively utilize his offspeed pitches.

"I need to be more consistent with my offspeed stuff and maybe use it more," Sikorski said. "I worked on my changeup more this offseason. Last year, it came and went at times."

Sikorski, who played in Japan from 2000-05, was acquired by the Indians in a midseason trade with the Padres last year. He made 17 appearances out of the Cleveland 'pen, going 2-1 with a 4.58 ERA. He struck out 24 batters in 19 2/3 innings.

"Last year [during Spring Training with the Padres], I probably put more pressure on myself than I needed to," he said. "I'm more relaxed this year. No question about it."

Short speech: Every year about this time, manager Eric Wedge has his first talk with the players about his expectations in camp and the season ahead.

This year, that speech, which took place Thursday morning, was shorter than ever.

"There's not a whole lot to talk about," Wedge said. "I think we have a good idea where we are and what we need to do. We know our guys. I think we're a little further along in the process. Everything we're about is everything we've gone through up to this point in time, whether individually or as a ballclub."

Tribe tidbits: With position players all in camp and accounted for, the Indians held their first full-squad workout Thursday morning. Pitchers' fielding practice was held with starters Andy Marte, Jhonny Peralta, Josh Barfield and Casey Blake in the infield, and Cliff Lee, Joe Borowski and Jeremy Sowers among those who threw live batting practice. ... Paul Byrd was to throw Thursday, but he was held back a day because his back stiffened up. Wedge said the issue was far from serious. ... Travis Fryman reported to camp Thursday. No, the former Indians third baseman isn't mounting a comeback. Fryman is here to work with the infielders and the hitters for the next month or so.

Sign here: Sowers, Aubrey, J.D. Martin, Ryan Garko, Brian Slocum, Hector Luna, Brad Snyder and Mike Rouse were all signed to contracts for the 2007 season Thursday.

The Indians still have 13 players on their 40-man roster who have not yet signed contracts for the upcoming season. The deadline is March 11.