Notes: Outfield not a worry for Blake
Martinez makes debut at first base; Inglett optimistic
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- The Indians' intention is to use Casey Blake at two, or perhaps three positions this season. He'll be at first base, right field and, possibly, third base, depending on the third-base skills of the winner of the utility infield job.But to this point in camp, Blake hasn't seen so much as an inning of action in the outfield. When asked if that bothers him, Blake just shrugged. "What are you gonna do out there?" he said. Center fielder Grady Sizemore, walking nearby, heard this and joked back, "You're just saying what we do out there is easy." In a way, Blake was. "Either you can run down a fly ball," he said, "or you can't." For now, Blake is more interested in fielding some grounders. The Indians have played him exclusively at the corner infield spots, including his start at third for Wednesday's split-squad home matchup with the Blue Jays. That was Blake's fourth start at third in seven spring games. He's considered an insurance policy if starter Andy Marte struggles at third, which is why he's getting regular work at a position he hasn't played since the 2004 season. "I feel all right out there," he said. "It's a tough position to play. You've got to use your instincts." Blake's instincts tell him he won't be counted on much in right field this year, even though that was his everyday position for the better part of the last two years. "We've got a lot of outfielders here," he said. "I don't foresee myself playing that much right field. I'm more concerned with the infield right now." Blake did say he was told he'd make a few starts in the outfield toward the end of camp. Vic looks slick: Speaking of players bouncing around from position to position, Victor Martinez made his first start of the spring at first base Wednesday. Martinez looked pretty solid in the field, especially when he kick-started a double play on a hard-hit John-Ford Griffin grounder in the second. "He looks great over there," starting pitcher Paul Byrd said of Martinez. "He doesn't look awkward at all. He looks like he's been there 10 years, and it's nice, because it gives you options." Martinez started 19 games at first in the 2006 season, making no errors in 154 total chances. Getting there: After doing some running drills and fielding grounders Wednesday morning, Joe Inglett said he is optimistic he'll be able to return from a left hamstring strain in the next four days. But optimism over his chances of opening the season with the Indians has faded quickly. Manager Eric Wedge has stopped listing Inglett, who hasn't played in a Grapefruit League game in more than a week, as one of the candidates for the utility infield job.
Inglett, though, remains steadfast in his belief that he has a future with the Tribe. "I have that feeling," he said. "I'll be up there sooner, rather than later. And who knows, if I get back and play hard the next two weeks, I might make the decision tough on them." Doing the splits: Byrd gave up a run on three hits in four innings in his start against the Jays. He said the split-finger fastball he's been working on is starting to come along. "I've been focusing on it for a while now," he said. "It needs to progress and it did today." Byrd first started throwing the pitch in January. It remains to be seen whether or not he'll use it in-season. "It can't be a pitch you hang often," he said. "You don't want a pitch you can't throw in a big situation." Tribe tidbits: Wedge made the trip to Dunedin on Wednesday for the club's other split-squad game against the Blue Jays. He saw right-hander Adam Miller turn in another outstanding outing. Miller worked four innings, giving up no runs on three hits with two strikeouts. He has yet to allow a run in nine innings pitched this spring. ... The Indians' Minor League affiliates will open their exhibition schedule Friday against the Astros organization. Triple-A Buffalo and Double-A Akron will play hosts to Round Rock and Corpus Christi, while Class A Kinston and Lake County will travel to Kissimmee to face Salem and Lexington. ... Blake, Martinez, Mike Rouse and David Dellucci all homered against the Jays. On deck: The Indians will turn on the lights at Chain of Lakes Park for a 7:05 p.m. ET game against the Devil Rays on Thursday. Right-hander Jake Westbrook will get the start against right-hander Jae Seo. Rafael Betancourt, Tom Mastny, Brian Sikorski and Matt Miller are also slated to pitch for the Tribe.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.