GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Indians do not want to risk having All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera suffer any unnecessary setbacks with his sore right shoulder, so the team inserted him into Saturday's starting lineup against the Dodgers as a designated hitter.
"He's DHing today just to make it easier on him," Indians manager Manny Acta said prior to Saturday's game. "I think he could play today if he has to. If this was during the season, he'd be playing. It's just, why push it? I know what he can do."
Cabrera missed the past two days due to an ailing right arm, but Acta said the team was not worried about the minor injury. The shortstop entered Saturday's game hitting .219 with two doubles and five RBIs in 11 Cactus League games this spring.
With Cabrera serving as the DH, Cleveland used utility man Jason Donald as the starter at shortstop. Donald -- a virtual lock for a bench job on the Opening Day roster -- will likely serve as the primary backup shortstop this season. The versatile infielder can also handle second and third base, along with some outfield.
The 26-year-old Cabrera is coming off a career year in which he hit .273 with 25 home runs, 32 doubles and 95 RBIs in 151 games for the Indians. This season, Cabrera projects to open the year in the second spot of Cleveland's batting order.
Perez makes spring debut Saturday
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Indians closer Chris Perez fired his first pitch on Saturday morning on a Minor League practice diamond and Delvi Cid came out hacking. The Class A outfielder chopped the baseball into the ground and Perez had a quick and easy out.
"That first guy," Perez said with a laugh. "First-pitch swinging. He was trying to make the team or something."
Perez's place in Cleveland's bullpen is more than secure, but the closer is doing all he can to show he is over the strained left oblique that dogged him early in camp.
Saturday's outing in a Minor League intrasquad contest marked the first game action of the spring for Perez, and he passed a number of tests.
The Indians will evaluate Perez on Sunday and if everything checks out, the right-hander will likely take the mound again on Monday.
"He looked good," Indians manager Manny Acta said on Saturday. "He'll show up tomorrow and then we'll make a decision after that on whether he's going to pitch back here or if he's going to pitch over there in one of those [Cactus League] games."
Perez needed just seven pitches (four strikes) to breeze through Cid, as well as fellow Minor Leaguers Tyler Holt and Tony Wolters. Center fielder Trevor Crowe made an impressive running catch to rob Holt of an extra-base hit and Wolters grounded out to first base to end the inning and Perez's outing.
On the final play, Perez was forced to cover first base, which the pitcher did without any issues. That was something Acta said was good to see.
"It wasn't an arm injury," Acta said. "So it's good to see him move around and do some baseball activity. Not enough pitches, but everything you wanted to see in one inning."
Perez, who saved 36 games in 40 chances last season for the Tribe, agreed.
"I crossed a lot of the things off the list right there," Perez said. "Covered first. Got some ground balls. It was a good outing. I'm very encouraged. I'm excited to go for my next one."
Huff a candidate for relief role
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Over the past week, Indians manager Manny Acta has said on multiple occasions that the team might get creative with assembling its roster at the end of camp. That approach might apply to the battle for the two available bullpen jobs.
On Saturday, Acta indicated that Cleveland has not ruled out left-hander David Huff as a long reliever. Up to this point in spring, Huff had only been mentioned as one of the three candidates, along with Jeanmar Gomez and Kevin Slowey, for the fifth starter job.
"We're still not set on that," Acta said on Saturday. "We have to evaluate that, run it through our pitching coaches to see whether he can adjust or not to that type of [relief] role. He hasn't done it here. But, he's a viable candidate for it."
That puts Huff among a list of relief candidates that also includes Frank Herrmann, Nick Hagadone, Jeremy Accardo, Dan Wheeler, Chris Ray, Robinson Tejeda and Henricus van den Hurk. Last week, Acta also floated the idea of considering Gomez as a reliever, though he appears to be the front-runner for the fifth rotation job right now.
Huff pitched three innings on Friday night against the Angels and was charged with two runs on three hits with three strikeouts. It marked the fourth appearance in a row that the lefty logged three innings. Huff said he was pleased with his secondary pitches on Friday, but noted that he is still working on his fastball command.
Huff, who has spent parts of the past three seasons in the big leagues with Cleveland, has worked as a starter his entire career. That said, the lefty is not necessarily against the idea of being used as a reliever, especially if it enhances his chances of making the Opening Day roster.
"I'm willing to do whatever they want me to do," said Huff, who has a 5.79 ERA in five Cactus League outings this spring.
The Indians, who are still undecided on a starting left fielder and a fourth outfielder, gave Matt LaPorta -- a first baseman by trade -- the nod in left for Saturday's road game against the Dodgers. "I've enjoyed it," said LaPorta, who played some outfielder for the Indians in 2009-10. "It's just another opportunity to be able to be a part of this ballclub."
Second baseman Jason Kipnis singled in the top of the first inning of Saturday's game against the Dodgers and then was replaced in the field by Jose Lopez in the home half of the frame. The team indicated that Kipnis was not hurt, but that the plan from the start was to give him just one at-bat.
Manager Manny Acta noted that third baseman Jack Hannahan, who has fought back tightness over the past few days, might be able to play in Sunday's Cactus League game against the Cubs. Center fielder Michael Brantley (right hamstring) remains a couple days away from returning to game action.
Acta indicated that infielder Cristian Guzman, who left Friday's game with a right hamstring injury, will need at least a week of rest before resuming baseball activities. The setback takes Guzman out of the mix for a bench job with the big league team.
Right-hander Henricus van den Hurk, claimed off waivers from the Blue Jays on Wednesday, made his Indians debut on Saturday against the Dodgers. The reliever logged two-thirds of an inning and ended with two strikeouts, one hit allowed and one hit batsmen. He was also charged with two runs, but they were scored after van den Hurk exited the game.
Right-hander Kevin Slowey, who is competing against Jeanmar Gomez and David Huff for the Indians' fifth rotation spot, is scheduled to pitch in a Minor League game on Sunday. Gomez will get the nod in Cleveland's Cactus League contest against the Cubs.
Quote to note "It's probably a nice little moment for them to try to see what they've got and try to get a home run off me or something." -- Indians closer Chris Perez, on facing Minor League hitters