03/24/07 5:00 PM ET
Notes: Lee ready to throw off mound
Southpaw recovering from strained abdominal muscle
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
"I'm not perfect at everything," Choo said. "If I go to Triple-A, I'll get to work in left field and face left-handed pitchers and become a better hitter. I'd rather play every day than sit on the bench."Choo, who was slated to be the Tribe's regular right fielder until the January signing of Trot Nixon, hasn't been particularly happy with his camp, to this point. He's hit .207 (6-for-29) with three RBIs in 12 games. "My spring hasn't been really good," he said. "Every other year in Spring Training, I've hit .300. But I'm feeling good, and I'm seeing the ball good." Francisco treat: Francisco doesn't seem as though he'd mind a bench role. In fact, he doesn't seem to mind any role. "My versatility is a big asset," he said. "I can play all three [outfield spots]. I can steal a bag. I can bat wherever in the lineup." On Saturday against the Braves, Francisco batted eighth and played center field. He went 0-for-3 at the plate, lowering his spring average to .316. Francisco said playing in the Mexican Winter League helped prepare him for what has been, Saturday aside, a dynamic spring camp. "I worked on my plate discipline," he said. "I came in here ready to go. My body felt good, and it didn't take me long to get adjusted." The decision on whether or not to carry an extra outfielder will hinge on whether or not Ryan Garko is deemed capable enough at first base to help the big-league club. "It's not up to me," Francisco said. "I'm going to keep persevering, and if I get a chance, I'll get a chance." Armed and dangerous: The Indians' interest in Kelly Shoppach during the negotiations that led to last winter's Coco Crisp trade centered mainly around his strong arm behind the plate. That arm was on in full display Saturday as Shoppach nabbed all three of the Braves who tried to steal off him. "He was outstanding," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "He was a difference-maker with the way he threw the ball today."
Hanging around: The Indians will have Joe Borowski, Roberto Hernandez, Rafael Betancourt, Jason Davis, Fernando Cabrera and Aaron Fultz in their Opening Day bullpen, but Tom Mastny and Juan Lara remain in camp, because they're considered the first line of defense at Buffalo this season."I've really been staying open-minded with those two guys," Wedge said, "with the way they've thrown the ball." Mastny made a rare start on Saturday, giving up a pair of runs on three hits over two innings. Those were the first runs he's allowed in nine appearances this spring. Lara went three scoreless innings, lowering his spring ERA to 0.79. On deck: While his agent, Michael Maas, and the Indians work behind the scenes on a contract extension for him, right-hander Jake Westbrook will be working on fine-tuning his game when he takes the mound for Sunday's 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Dodgers. Westbrook will oppose Los Angeles right-hander Jason Schmidt. Davis, Hernandez and Borowski will be available to pitch in relief.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.